Day 70

Dedza Pottery Lodge was a great place to stay and we had a good, restful night. Packing up the sky looked purple and bruised, the clouds heavily pregnant with the first rains. A local camper told us the weather forecast had predicted showers from 11am. That would give us a few hours to cycle dry, we reckoned.

From Dedza we had misjudged the distance to the massive descent to lake level. Suzann was cycling for about half an hour when she still hadn’t hit the downhill yet. I pulled up alongside and offered to take on the next hill that was looming massive in the distance. She gratefully accepted and we stopped to swop. But just as I crested the hill it appeared as if the descent had started. I am not a good descender, so I stopped at the first wood carving stall on the pass to swop with Suzann. Anyway, she wanted to buy a toy Landie, carved so intricately with ancient hand tools that even the doors opened and the steering wheel turned.

From there Suzann took on the tight turns of the pass, whizzing on downhill at breakneck speed … to the detriment of mom’s heart condition. On the flatland below she handed over to me again, but the hill wasn’t finished and I had a bit of descending to do as well. Old wobble got it right to drop to lake level though and then it was 16km to the turn-off to Monkey Bay on the lake.

Getting so into the ride, waving at the local children all screaming ‘mzungu, mzungu’ and running to verge to see these crazy white people go by, that I forgot that we’d agreed to cycle only to the turn-off. We’d have to return to that spot as this was the way north along the lake, but to reach Cape McClear and the World Heritage Site on the southern edge of the lake, we’d have to detour from the road north for a while. Anyway, forgetting our plans and chatting to the friendly cops at the roadblock at the turn-off, I waved goodbye and simply kept on cycling. In fact, we were having so much fun cycling we nearly went the whole way to the lodge at Cape McClear before noticing that, ‘hey, this is funny, we were supposed to ride 65km today, and we’ve already done over 80!’ Consulting the map, we discovered our mistake. No harm, no foul though … it’d make up a little for all those k’s we missed in Zambia. Loading the bikes, we thankfully drove to the lodge. Thankfully … because it was getting blazingly hot and the humidity was slowly whittling away at our resolve.

Bouncing through the village of Chembe to the lodge at the end was a hair-raising affair in itself. Since our last visit two years ago the village seems to have expanded alarmingly. The houses have encroached upon the road to such an extent that soon a large vehicle won’t be able to squeeze through the village at all. Driving past the drying racks full of freshly caught kapenta, we could tell … now we’re at the lake. But you only really see the expanse of water once you’re safely behind the gates of the lodge that runs out onto the private beach. We shacked up under the only tree in the campsite, right on the beach …

I could hardly believe that we were able to sit on the big granite rocks and look out over the lake and the island off shore, appreciating one of the most spectacular sunsets you’ll ever see in Africa. What a privilege indeed. We are truly blessed to see this again. What a good day … and we even got to give out a Bible at the police roadblock …  

… and the day got even better when we discovered that mom had mistaken the ‘gents’ for the ‘ladies’ and showered and generally did all her ablutions in the men’s block. She’d have continued to use the gents, blissfully unaware, had I not accompanied her to the loo the evening. I walked toward the ‘ladies’ while she headed for the ‘gents’, quite put out by my calling, ‘you’re going the wrong way!’ Then only did we discover why mom had insisted that the first shower’s water heater was in fact, working when we were so sure that it wasn’t. Turned out the ‘gents’ was working, while the ‘ladies’ was not! We weren’t mad … mom was just in the wrong block, the entire time!    

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