Tuesday, May 4
Half of our white friends leave the boat at midnight at Chizumulu Island. The remainder of our new travel companions alight at Likoma Island at 5am as the first shards of a magnificent sunrise begin to consume the skyline. You can partake of some of the world’s cheapest diving lessons on this beautiful island. Just jump off the MV Ilaya, dive and relax, and wait 7 days for her return.
Once again, Bjorn and I have the top deck of the boat to ourselves and greet the crew members at breakfast as if we ourselves are now part of the ship’s company.
The day is spent as follows:
Sunbathe on deck. Write blogs. Think. Admire the almost entirely deserted coastline. (It puts me in mind of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, and reminds Bjorn of the Norwegian fjords)
Consider meaning of life. Start dreaming about the World Cup. Walk around the wooden deck watching the ship’s crew working.
The ship pulls anchor at Metangula, Mozambique in mid-afternoon, on the eastern shore of Lake Niassa (Mozambique name for the lake). Mountains soar above; strange and wonderfully-shaped trees dotting the landscape. As well as being home to a local community of fishermen it is also where the Mozambique Navy has its base on this huge inland sea.
A flock of 30-40 birds of prey circle in the sky above Metangula, looking for a kill, like a scene from a Spaghetti Western. I have never seen this spectacle anywhere else in the world.
For the remainder of the day we ride the waves of Mozambique’s territorial waters. For the moment, Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi seem relatively laid back about what and where constitutes their watery boundaries, but you feel that water, minerals and fishing rights might change all that one day on this magnificently beautiful stretch of African water.
We are the only passengers using the first class deck to live and sleep, and on the only foreigners on board.
Evening life on the ocean waves:
Reading the excellent ‘Dangling Man’ by Saul Bellow. Egg and chips for dinner. 3 bottles of Malawi’s finest stout. Thinking. Watching five pirate episodes of Prison Break. Once again contemplating the meaning of life. Missing my family. Wishing my girlfriend was with me. Watching kids fishing in canoes. Staring up in childlike wonderment at the star-filled sky.
Cockroaches crawl everywhere and the rat tries to gnaw its way out of one of the boxes containing lifejackets as we once again make up our beds for the night. The diffused deck lights give one of the cockroaches a 2-metre long shadow as I zip up my sleeping bag and close my eyes.