Cape Maclear Malawi (Jan 18th to 25th by Susan)Life was so easy going in Cape Maclear that one day easily turned into the next and they all begin to merge into one another, it was a nice relaxing feeling though.We decided to stay for so long so that Dave and Kaz could catch the MV Ilala up the lake which is a very old colonial ferry that travels it's way up and down the lake on a weekly basis. It was one of the Malawi highlights and would give us another chance to travel separetly for a while, Paul and I would travel up the coast of the lake with Kal and meet the guys in Nkhata Bay 9 days later.This gave us a great opportunity to relax and chill out again our 2 days of driving had taken it all out of us, it's a hard life this travelling thing!!Fat Monkey's was known for it's pizza's so we tried some the first night but not before I'd sat on the beach and watched the sun set with a drink in hand.I'd been down on the beach on my own so had attracted the attention of some of the beach boys namely a guy called Mike and later on one called Shakespeare.Mike seemed very friendly and showed me his paintings a number of which I really liked but wanted Paul to see and I also had no more money so I told him I'd find him at some point to have a look with Paul. He also told me a bit about Cape Maclear and how things worked, he could organize practically anything for is if we wanted, boat trips to see the fish eagles, a BBQ on the beach, some weed if we wanted it, all we had to do was ask.Shakespeare on the other hand had some hand made cards which again I liked but couldn't buy as I had no money. I left them both that evening with a good feeling and genuinely intended on purchasing some stuff before we left.Pizza was good and made us sleepy so we headed for bed.In the days that followed the overland truck that had been in camp on our arrival left, leaving us as practically the only tourists in camp, this lead to endless attention from the beach boys and constant harassment from Mike which in the end put me off buying anything from him especially as it culminated in him being drunk and threatening us if we were to leave the camp after dark - it was all drunken talk but it definitely made me want to have nothing to do with him.The beach boys were ever present on the beach and at times made you just want to stay in camp, they were allowed on the beach but could not sell anything in front of the property you had to go to the side if you wanted to purchase anything and they were not allowed past the waste high barriers at the front of the camp although they were free to stand at these and shout out your name, name was a key thing, they never forgot your name!!With this at the back of our minds we decided to sign up for a kayak trip to Domwe Island which was just off the coast where we would stay for two nights in self catering tented luxury!We signed up to leave on Tuesday giving us another day and a half to get together some food supplies and chill out some more. One afternoon Paul decided to try to get to the bottom of why the windscreen wipers weren't working properly. After consulting the Haynes manual he decided he would have to get behind the dash board on the passenger side, so started the long process of undoing various nuts and bolts as he undid the various layers of the dash that would get him into the right area.While he toiled away at this I decided it was time to clean out the inside of the car, after our long road journey there was a coat of orange dust on everything!!It took quite a while to get in and as Paul looked at the pipes that feed the water to the windscreen wipers our fears of a rogue rat doing damage to Kal were confirmed, there were rat droppings lying in the bottom of the compartment and the pipes had been chewed through while it had also had a go at some of the electrics in there!! I couldn't believe it the pesky creature, as Paul prepared to do some patch work we hoped the little rat had decided to make a new home at Fat Monkeys.It took Paul quite some time to patch the pipes, they had been chewed so that there was now a gap in the pipes so we had to use some handy spare tubbing we'd brought a long to bridge the gap and then some trusty electrical tape to seal the deal!After checking that things worked again and weren't leaking it was time to put the dash back together again which was another painstakingly long process but finally the last troublesome screw was back in place and as I finish my cleaning Kal looked as good as new!!It was a fantastic break for Paul and I (Dave and Kaz stayed at Fat Monkey's as they would see the islands on there ferry trip).The day we were supposed to be picked up by Kayak Africa it was pouring and I mean pouring down, with the wind the roof tent mattress had gotten very wet for the first time so we put back our departure from 10am to 2pm to give us a chance to dry out and dry out we did and by 2pm the sun was out and we were ready to go.We'd stocked up with fresh tomatoes, onions, eggs and lot of water, soft drinks and beer and were ready to go, all of our food and bags would be taken over on a motor boat and Paul and I would make our way over on a tandem kayak.We hadn't done too much kayaking so thankfully the lake had settled down to have a surface almost like glass which was just as well as we didn't seem too stable once we got on our way!I was a bit nervous getting in, last time we'd kayaked but admittedly in a very different type Paul had capsized the thing with me sitting in it as he got in drenching me before our adventure started, this time thankfully it went a lot smoother, we both got to sit in the kayak on the beach and our guide pushed us in and we were off! As usual I think Paul did more work than me, I was sitting in the front so he had to keep time with me and he had the rudder controls at his feet but we seemed to keep time okay.The water was fantastically clear and as we got further you couldn't see the bottom but could see the sun beams reaching down into the depths of the turquoise waters.The paddle was only about 4kms and took us about an hour, it was the right distance, we handn't gotten too sore!Arriving on the island we were met by Daniel and I'm afraid we've forgotten his name, another island man met us, they had already taken our bags to our tent and had taken the food up to the kitchen, it was time for our tour.Firstly we were shown to our tent, it was a permanent tent strung underneath a wooden hut nestled in the forest on the waters edge.Inside we had two single beds, a bedside table and two thatched arm chairs while outside on our small deck overlooking the water we had a hammock, it was perfect.Then on to the toilet which was along a wooded path way from our little hut, another eco-friendly installation and I was very impressed it was a composting drop toilet that you had to put a handful of sawdust down once you had finished and to my surprise didn't smell at all and was accompanied by a nice sink with soap. Then off through the woods to the shower which we didn't end up using I must admit, it was a drum strung up with a shower tap, if we had wanted one we had to let our island guys know and they'd rig it with some hot water.Then off to the dinning room which was a wooden hut, similar to our tent with a huge wooden table in it and coolers with cold drinks and beers which we could indulge in through an honour system if we wanted, again this was right on the waters edge and had a deck you could walk down onto even closer to the lapping water.Up behind this was the kitchen, it was very well equipped and seemed to have everything, even a gas cooker, it had obviously been a fully catered island at some point.Just outside the island men had a small low thatched hut that they had a fire going under where they obviously did there cooking. We were to be the only two on the island tonight apart from our two island hosts, fantastic!After our small tour it was time to relax a bit and then we went for a snorkel heading down the island towards the mainland as we'd been told it was best for fish spotting and they weren't wrong.As we swam along close to the rocky shore line it was like swimming through an aquarium you were literally surrounded by 100's of little fish.The little ones were mostly a pale yellow with black dots but there were some bigger fish that were purple and black, the purple almost iridescent and very impressive.There were also brighter yellow and black ones, green ones, all sorts, think of your local aquarium and you'll get the picture.We decided to bring along some bread next time to see if they would be interested in feeding from our hands.Back at camp we got ourselves a drink and positioned ourselves on a large rock below the dinning room to watch the sun set.As we went out there we scared off lots of different lizards, some with bright blue tails others were baby rock monitors, all very cool.As we enjoyed the view, but not the hard rock Daniel came down and explained he'd forgotten to tell us about sunset rock which was a 10 minute walk up through the forest behind the kitchen area, we couldn't miss out on checking it out so up we headed.It was a narrow dirt path winding up through the forest and was a definite challenge with a glass full of gin and sprite, I told myself I'd need to bottle it tomorrow night! We figured we were going in the right direction and were soon rewarded as we saw a rope ladder leading up a rather large rock, up we went.The rock here wasn't any more comfortable so we sat on Paul's flip flops enjoying our cold drinks and watching an impressive sun set over the lake and the distant mountains, it was magical!!Heading back down in the dark was more of a challenge but thankfully we had brought our head torches and now had empty drinks to carry.We made some veggie pesto and pasta for dinner and enjoyed a couple of more drinks before retiring along the candle lit forest paths to our tent (they had run out of paraffin for the gas lamps, but the candles only added to the atmosphere of the place).Next morning we were woken up early by Daniel, the night before they had said they could call in a fisherman on his way past if we fancied some fish which would probably be at about 8 or 9am, we thought great but this wake up call was a bit earlier than expected!Not to worry, buying fresh fish is definitely Paul's job so I woke him up and off he went. We decided to buy two fish and give one to our island hosts, if we were still on the island alone that evening we'd see if they wanted to join us for dinner.Paul told me the fish he had bought were two huge kampango (a type of catfish), I was still pretty nervous when it came to eating fish and wondered what it would be like!When we went up for breakfast, Daniel asked if I wanted to see the fish, I wasn't sure as I was expecting them to still be 'fish' but they had already been be-headed and butterflied and had been slightly smoked on grills with some onion, salt and pepper and Daniel added with a little smirk some Nali, which is the Malawian equivalent to chilly sauce!It looked like a lot of fish and he hadn't grasped the concept of us giving them one he wanted to serve us one for the lunch and one for dinner but again Paul explained they could have one and we'd have ours for dinner!After a relaxing breakfast, everything about this island is relaxing, so we decided we'd go for a hike up through the forest to the highest point on the island.It must be said we were rather ill prepared for this venture, Paul only had his flip flops and I my sandals which at least strapped on!!We took our rain jackets, some water, two bags of crisps and the camera.It was a very scenic walk up through the dense sub-tropical forest to the top but boy was it hot and humid, we couldn't believe how humid, even just taking a rest would lead to buckets of sweat cascading out of your body!!The path was also pretty ill defined, it didn't look like anyone had been on it in ages at some points we weren't sure we'd taken the right path as we had to scramble up rocks holding onto trees and bushs but were reassured a couple of meters on when we came across a painting on a rock which were our guides along the way. When we finally made it to the top we had a well earned break and tried to dry out our drenched t-shirts while we admired the views, they were amazing, our pictures don't do it justice!The walk back down was maybe even more challenging as the pressure on our knees and ankles mounted but we finally made it back down and could relax in the hammock for a while!After lunch we decided to head out for another snorkel in the refreshing lake water.The fish as it turned out weren't at all interested in our bread but they came so close anyway it almost wasn't needed.This swim was as fantastic as the last and we got the pleasure of getting within about a meter of two black and white kingfishers enjoying their catch on a reed.That evening we enjoyed another beautiful sun set from sunset rock and then went up to the kitchen to make some rice with veggies (my back up dish if I didn't like the fish!!).As I put the veggies together Paul sat and had a chat with the guys, they were waiting on the African Cup of Nations to start at 7pm so that they could listen in on the radio (African football tournament), Malawi hadn't made it in so they were supporting Senegal not exactly sure why.Sitting relaxing Paul offered them a cigarette and we got one of the most unexpected answers back from Daniel "No thank you, I don't smoke I'm a Christian", I hope Paul takes up Christianity soon!!They talked a bit about their jobs, we thought that working on a magical island such as this having to entertain only a few guests at a time would be a pretty good job but they weren't so sure, they spent 14 days on the island then got 7 days off back on the mainland and I guess it gets a bit boring having to spend that long without power, tv and other human beings to chat too. They both wanted Paul to take them to Australia, "They'd carry his bags for him", I'm not sure that's quite enough to get you in!!In no time the rice was ready and Daniel (they'd both cooked up the fish for us) served the catfish. It was really too fishy and smoky for me but I had quite a bit all the same.Paul was very surprised at how moist and juicy it was and I think enjoyed it more than he thought he would afterall catfish doesn't look like the most appetising thing you can pull out of a lake!At dinner we had company in the form of a couple from England who were currently working in Johanesburg, it was sad not to be the only two guest on the island any more but at the same time it was nice to hear their stories, they'd already been on the Ilala the boat Dave and Kaz were to take up the lake and had really enjoyed it.Next day was our last day and we took it easy getting up late, enjoying a nice breakfast and then having a final swim before we headed back at about 3pm, this time because the winds were higher and the lake not so calm we opted to take the motor boat back.We thanked our island hosts for an excellent time and were off!Once we were on the lake we were sure we'd made the right decision the boat was moving up and down a lot in a relatively big swell that was coming in very close together, I don't think we'd have stayed upright for long in our kayak!!Back on the mainland we settled up and were taken back to Fat Monkeys, if anyone is ever in Cape Maclear and needs to get away from it all or just the beach boys I'd definitely recommend a visit to Domwe (www.kayakafrica.net)!We spent another night at Fat Monkeys and set off early the next morning, to drop Dave and Kaz off in Monkey Bay at the ferry terminal!