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  • Day132

    Livingstonia

    January 25 in Malawi ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

    We wake from a good night’s sleep, and emerge from our safari tent onto our private balcony. The decking is built directly on top of the cliff, so we can look directly out over the lake shore, all the way across to Mozambique.

    Today, we are going on a hike. It is meant to be a hike to the plateau to see more amazing views, but the entire hill is covered in fog, making this hike pointless. We head to a waterfall instead. However, the moment we set off, the heavens open, and we are completely drenched. We carry on regardless, and get to the lookout post overlooking the waterfall. However, there’s not much to lookout on because the rain is so intense. We shelter in a cafe and wait for the rain to subside.

    Once it does, we set off down the face of the waterfall to the bottom. This involves some fairly sketchy paths, and we jump over the raging river, about 20 metres from the edge of the waterfall.

    As usual, the views are amazing.

    On the way back up, we pass a tree covered in hairy insects. I ask the guide what they are but he doesn’t know. I later find out that they are worms, that people eat, once they cook them to neutralise the poison.

    A little further along, we come to a giant colony of ants, who are coming out onto the path after the rain. Since the paths drop off one side into oblivion, we are forced to run through the ants, and spend the next few minutes pulling the soldier ants out of our skin. This seems par for the course in Africa.

    Later, after taking a well deserved shower, we head into Livingstonia town. This is a small town on top of the hill. It was founded by missionaries that followed in the footsteps of Livingstone (hence the somewhat heavy-handed name). It is very atmospheric, with colonial buildings built around the turn of the 19/20th centuries. It is especially eerie with the mist rolling over the surrounding mountains. There is a small museum, with very few interesting displays. We do learn one story about the missionaries who lived here during the liberation struggles. The colonial authorities broadcast the news that they couldn’t guarantee the safety of any British people in Malawi, and they would evacuate them from the lake. If the British wanted to be evacuated, they were to put a large “I” on the ground, and if they wanted to stay put, they were to put a “V” on the ground. The missionaries had faith that the local population wouldn’t turn against them, and put the V, along with a bible passage celebrating equality among races. Sure enough, despite the chaos and violence that took place across Malawi, the missionaries in Malawi weren’t harmed, and there was peace in Livingstonia.

    In the evening, we have dinner with everyone at Mushroom Farm. We discuss Bilharzia medication with a German doctor, who recommends splashing in out for name brand pills, since a study found that 1/2 of all drugs in the developing world were found to be fakes. Bilharzia is a nasty sounding disease, caused by parasites found in lake snails throughout Africa. Symptoms start subtle- mainly tiredness- before you’ve got blood in your pee and eventually the parasites can make their way to your nervous system and can cause loads of complications. We’ll splash out for some name brand pills.
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