3 weeks turned into 3 months

Monkey Bay

I left Gaborone on October 15th, saying goodbye to my housemates, “see you in three weeks!”  I hopped into a car and began a journey to Zimbabwe for a permaculture design course and a week in Malawi for the International Permaculture Convergence and Conference.  Three months later I’m resting in Lilongwe, Malawi with a bout of malaria, and plans to travel back to Gaborone as painlessly as possible.  I have a few stories to tell which will come piece by piece, probably without any logical connection.

In short, the last three months went like this: 2 weeks at Fambidzanai Permaculture Center outside of Harare, Zimbabwe and a rockin car trip from there to Lilongwe, Malawi for the IPC9 week stopping for a night in Liwonde National Park.  The following week I spent on the waters of Lake Malawi in Nkhata Bay, then 2 months at a rustic campsite in Monkey Bay within the Lake Malawi National Park turning out a small project in a nearby village, supported by Burners Without Borders.

When I’m in the bush, as it’s known in Africa, all I want is to spend the rest of my life in nature soaking it all in and letting the sun and earth tint my skin rosy brown, letting the business of every day life with limited resources (and occasional emergencies) sharpen my wits, and watching the shades of sky and water shift and swirl into and out of each other.  There is a sense of calm and serenity, of time slowing down while in nature, but there’s also the feeling of letting go of everything that has ever kept you restricted or confined.  So your shirt gets muddy, who cares?  You get rained on; better that than the profuse sweat that’s been running down your neck all day.  At least you don’t have to be at a meeting in the next hour trying to look neat and presentable.

In Monkey Bay, I had a purpose and things to do each day to keep me busy and away from the edge of restlessness and uselessness that comes with too much leisure time.  There is a lot to wait for, and no way to rush anything, so there is time to sit and watch the green come out of the trees when the rain falls, and keep watch for the crocodiles at night.  More planning needs to be done, so you stay with your wits so you don’t miss any opportunity for transport, to restock the kitchen with food and drinks, or to hear when the next shipment of cement has arrived in town for building.  At dusk the earth rotates away from the sun and into darkness and we sit and talk, listen to music powered on our small electrical system that runs off a car battery until sleep comes.  The morning sun bakes my skin inside the tent, and without fully waking, I stumble across the sand which hasn’t had time yet to absorb the heat of the 7:00 am sun, and take a splash in the lake, swimming and flipping until I am completely cooled and awake in fresh water.  It’s a new day, and I am sure to see something today that I would never see back home.

5 Responses to “3 weeks turned into 3 months”
  1. David Frierman says:

    Sooo lovely, especially having the time and getting into that slower time…

  2. Henk says:

    “…and take a splash in the lake, swimming and flipping until I am completely cooled and awake in fresh water.” Allow me to chuckle for a while… 😉

    • Chuckle away…. I mean fresh water as opposed to salty water, not so much that the water was fresh and clean. Refreshing, sure, but the kind of water that makes all of your wounds dilate and deepen, taking weeks longer to heal than usual. It’s the kind of water that has parasites that can make your bowels run and cause you to urinate blood. But it LOOKS so pristine and clear and FEELS so good to swim in with the green hills all around and the mountains with varying degrees of visibility on the far side of the lake.

  3. Eytan says:

    Great writing, as usual…
    Sounds like a magical time. Thanks for sharing it in such a positive light. Looking at your response to a comment at the end, I am heartened to see you look for the best things in everything, and so not dwell on the darkness (blood spew causing parasites, crocs that can eat you, etc.). Even your Malaria you seem to be handling with the most positive of spirits…
    Positivity is the best drug there is Prentiss, don’t you ever stop ingesting it.

  4. Parag says:

    You never know how the time passes by in such beautiful places, isnt’it?
    Lake malawi national park

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