Sunday Morning ~Mumbo Island-Making Progress

Sunday Morning ~Mumbo Island ~ Making Progress

Musamaumirire mtunda wopanda madzi. ~ Do not keep on staying in an area without water.

~ Chewa proverb

June 9, 2024

Hi Everyone,

This seems so weird…I’m sitting at my table wearing leggings, a wool shirt, and fleece. I am wrapped in a blanket and I’m still cold. True, this is the cold season but this seems extreme. It’s usually warm during the day, like 70’s, then into the 50’s at night but today it’s low 60’s at noon and windy. It’s overcast, a storm off the coast of Mozambique the cause, and feels more like Scotland than Malawi. It’s supposed to be cold all week. 

Last week was gorgeous, both the weather and the company. Deb, the architect from Botswana, was here and we accomplished a lot and had a ton of fun around the edges. I think we talked for ten consecutive hours at one point. Deb did a presentation at the hospital about her research on birth unit designs and the response was excellent. It sparked more enthusiasm for our midwifery-center project and by the end of the Q&A period we had agreed to hold a workshop where all parties can have input on ideas for the design (we are now referring to it as a midwifery center instead of ward as the vision grows). Faculty, hospital midwives, administrators, doctors, and students agreed to gather for a day to discuss the design and components to be included. No matter what happens, this process is exciting. I fretted about finding the money and a time to schedule this, but by the end of Deb’s visit we found some grant money that could be allocated to this and our friend Chris, an architect from Philadelphia who happens to be here for a month, can facilitate. Within a week we had a date, venue, caterer, and facilitator. Woo hoo. Moving along. 

Deb and I then spent the weekend on Mumbo Island, an ecolodge on a small island a few miles off the coast of Cape Maclear, at the southern part of the lake. It’s another spot I’d not visited so when Deb suggested the destination, I jumped. It was perfect. 

We left Blantyre late Friday morning arriving in Zomba for lunch. There is a restaurant/lodge  there, Casa Rosa, run by an Italian family who have lived in Malawi for a long time. I’d not eaten there before but many people claim it is the best meal they’ve eaten in Malawi, so it was worth stopping for a taste. It did not disappoint. We had fresh squeezed tangerine juice, salad, and homemade pasta sitting on the veranda surrounded by tropical forest. Lovely. From there we continued on to Cape Maclear, should have been another three hour drive but was more like four. Though we watched a gorgeous sunset en-route it meant driving the last bit in the dark, something I try to avoid. At least we were off the main road by then but the road over the mountain to the cape is windy, narrow, and potholed with steep shoulders. I stopped for gas at the start of that road and we watched a big lorry, horn blaring, speed down the road seemingly out of control. Deb and I looked at each other. I said, “Can you imagine if that came at us on the road? Stopping for gas may have saved our lives.” Then nearly dark, we turned onto the road and began to navigate the mountain pass. At least the first few miles of it are paved now (unlike when I did it with Pat and Stacy in 2017 sliding sideways in the mud). The oncoming vehicles were mostly motorcycles and most had lights so it wasn’t too hard to share the road, but we did encounter a jackknifed lorry going up a steep hill. Fortunately, there was enough room to get onto the hillside and go around it, and I got back onto the road (big lip there) without a problem. I love my car. Whew! We got to the lodge, dropped our bags in our thatched room, and headed to the bar for a double gin and tonic. These night drives require a medicated arrival. As we sipped our drinks by––what used to be–– the beach we noticed the fellow lodgers were young enough to be Deb’s kids and my grandkids, students maybe? We didn’t get their stories before catching the boat to Mumbo Island the next morning. 

The chalets on Mumbo are built into the rocks with natural materials so they are barely visible. There are only six of them, not luxurious but completely blissful. They have composting toilets and the showers are buckets with spouts on the bottom, strung up with a pulley. At our requested time someone comes and fills the bucket with warm water for our shower. It’s like Gilligan’s Island! At dawn they leave a tray of coffee and tea on the balcony hanging over the water. The meals were simple but delicious. We kayaked around the island each day; the rock formations were fantastic. We hiked the four mile trail along the shore, up and down the terrain, sharing the rocks with monitor lizards. The first one made me scream as I turned and saw it coming toward us while we were sitting and enjoying the view. Those things are prehistoric––the size of baby alligators.  We talked…and talked…and talked, never getting bored and never running out of things to say. It was a great weekend. I’ll put some photos on facebook and may even figure out how to put some on instagram. 

Love to all,


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