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Friday 14th September - Malawi - Nkhotakhota
Swimming in Lake Malawi is a bit strange, because the beaches, the size of the lake and the waves all fool you into believing it is the sea. I keep saying The sea. I mean the lake..

Yesterday afternoon and then again this morning we swam, sunbathed, played in the sand and read. The girls loved running up and down the beach, jumping in the waves and playing with the hotels big, gentle dog Scooby Doo! We left Makuzi Beach around lunchtime. (Incidentally, our bill for Makuzi Beach was 2/3s of what wed paid for Sangilo Sanctuary and Makuzi was miles better.)

Driving in Malawi is reminiscent of Ethiopia because there are so many people walking on the roadsides and probably more than half of the women you see have babies on their backs. However, since Tanzania the donkeys:bicycles ratio has tilted more and more in favour of bikes. Weve seen very few donkeys in Tanzania or Malawi, but weve seen lots of bikes. People transport incredible loads on their bikes, cycling along with crates of coke piled up behind them, sacks of charcoal all around them, live chickens tied by their ankles to the handlebars - having one final feather-ruffling thrill-ride. We even saw a man cycling along with a live, adult goat as a passenger!

We only drove for a couple of hours today, to Nkhotakhota Pottery. The pottery is a well run place with a good restaurant, large pottery shop, workshop and training area and a campsite area. Its fair to say that the campsite could do with a little more attention. The toilet block was clean, nicely decorated and had hot showers, but it was also a bit dusty and cobwebby. The area assigned for camping seemed to be a graveyard for dead kilns, bricks and other pottery debris.

The pottery is on a sandy beach but we didnt swim there because the water was bright yellow! Apparently this is due to algae in the water a natural, harmless but weird-looking phenomenon.

At the pottery, for a small sum you can get a pottery lesson and try your hand at making a pot. We thought it might be fun for the girls to have a go. They stood and watched in wrapt attention while the teacher demonstrated how to use a potters wheel. Keziah then tried it. She absolutely loved it and it was great to see her concentrating so hard to do it right. She was delighted with herself when her efforts turned out pretty well. Naomi, on the other hand wasnt so enamoured she didnt like the texture of the clay on her hands and soon decided she would prefer to sit and eat apple pie instead. When it comes to eating, Naomi will happily admit I a peeggy weeggy (i.e. a piggy wiggy). So a happy compromise was reached Keziah finished Naomis pot and Naomi finished Keziahs apple pie!

This morning before we left Makuzi Beach we saw what looked like a huge cloud of smoke rising from the opposite side of the lake. We mentioned it to the manager and he corrected us no, it wasnt smoke but rather lake flies. This evening we experienced the lake flies for ourselves as a cloud of literally millions drifted through. They are tiny little black flies that dont bite (thank the Lord!!). The locals harvest them and use them to make cakes (yum, yum!). In the dark, any light attracted them and they swarmed around it.

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