10.09.2009 - 12.09.2009
I had originally planned to cross from Chizi to Likoma by getting a place on a local Dhow, but barely minutes before i started to walk to the dock, I somehow managed to arrange to hitch a lift on a handily timed passing World Food Program boat. As you do.
Likoma is a slight curiosity. A small island with a correspondingly small population, it also houses a cathedral that is bigger than the one in Westminster, and one of the largest in the Southern hemisphere. It is very pretty, well kept, and decidedly out of place.
Though I couldn't tell you why, I much preferred Likoma to Chizi. It was large enough to be able to get a decent walk, with more varied terrain, some good beaches and also some good cheap local restaurants: Rice, beans and veg for about 65p at the Hunger Clinic (and no, i was not spying) became a daily staple. Likoma was also home to hoardes of very friendly young kids, though surprisingly few 'give me's'. Whilst out exploring one day with an English girl called Lisa, we ended up collecting an ever changing mass of kids: At one point I counted 54. All they wanted to do was talk to us in a local language we knew 3words of between us, whilst walking alongside us, preferably (for them) whilst holding our hands. Which meant that I often had one small child hanging off each finger, and a few off my arms as well. At one point, i was convinced I would loose a finger on my right hand to a particularly enthusiastic 5year old. But they enjoyed being lifted up, and just walking with the mzungu's, and even – oddly – stuck strictly to boys to me and girls to Lisa.
I would certainly recommend that anybody who has time to visit the islands, but time was something I was now lacking. So I had decided to return to Nkhata Bay and go overland rather than wait for the ferry to next head south. But by now the Ilala was properly b*ggered, and the island rumour mill in full swing. Depending on exactly who you talked to, the ferry was definitely coming; definitely not coming; Coming at least 24hours late or Canceled for 3weeks. Inquiries to friends in Nkhata Bay produced more confusion, whilst phoning the shipping company didn't help either – 10 calls returned 4 different answers and 6 non answered. And the 4 responses all turned out to be wrong anyway.
Eventually, consensus said that whilst the Ilala may or may not turn up late to some degree, there was going to be a replacement service to Nkhata Bay (only) the following day. A much smaller boat had been 'borrowed' from the Mozambiquians (Mozambiquei?) and would be leaving at a changeable time that seemed to be being pulled out of assorted hats. On the plus side, there was a boat in evidence tied up near where the Ilala normally moors, which was bigger than anything else around (although admittedly, that isn't saying much).
So at the moment, we basically have no idea what is going to happen, or when. And I don't just mean in the game of beer-dice, to which I have just been introduced, but is fairly incomprehensible to me. We'll just turn up, pray, and see what happens.
Sounds like a fairly typical Rich journey, doesn't it?!