Yesterday was "Pig Day," a tradition with many of the overland truck tours. Early in the morning, we walked out of the camp gates to some nearby huts, where we witnessed the slaughter and preparation of our pig, which we would roast on a spit for dinner. The act retained a shadow of savagery in the forceful thrust of a knife into the squealing pig's heart, the spurting of warm blood into a bowl, and the pained last breaths of the animal as it was lowered into a shallow pit where it would be shaved. As one local villager carefully poured boiling water over the hide of the dead pig, another expertly scraped the steamed hair from the animal's skin. As brutal as these events may sound, they are a potent reminder of the source of the food we eat – we as Westerners, familiar only with our sterile plastic packaging, often forget where the meat we eat originates.
In the meantime, I sat down nearby and learned how to play bao, a Malawian board game similar to checkers. The villager who was teaching me explained that the name originates from the fact that the game is often played in the shade of a baobab tree. Of course, after learning the rules of the game, the villager immediately hassled me to buy a board. After explaining that I had already bought a game table in Chitimba that contained both bao and chess boards, the vendor then offered to write up an instruction sheet for me for only 1,000 kwacha ($6). I told him I would find the rules online.
On the short walk along a dirt path back to the camp gates, I arranged an afternoon fishing trip with one of the locals and agreed on a price of 2,000 kwacha ($12) for three of us. The man called himself Black William. All the men in Kande Beach use creative pseudonyms – Sugar and Spice, Spiderman, Samuel L. Jackson. I paid half the amount up front so Black William could purchase the fishing lines and bait. He would receive the rest after we returned from the trip. At noon, Becca, Beth, and I walked out to the beach where we were supposed to meet Black William. The trip was to last two hours – we would take a boat out to the solitary island, learn how to fish as the Malawians do, and have an opportunity to jump off the rocky cliffs into the refreshing waters of Lake Malawi. As this is Africa ("T.I.A."), Black William was an hour late and told us that he was only then going to get the supplies and prepare the boat. He told us to return at two, but we reminded him that we wanted to be back at camp by then. He said, "OK, five minutes then." After much longer than five minutes, we walked down the beach towards a little shack where some locals were sitting and asked for Black William. He finally saw us and led us towards our "boat", which was quite literally a hollowed out, knotty log. We looked with apprehension at each other but decided to give the Malawian boat a try.
We asked if he could refund the money we had paid that morning, and he agreed. He walked off to get the money and said he would return in a few minutes. After half an hour, we were fed up, and I walked out of the camp to the side of the beach used by locals. I talked to a man who said that Black William had already spent the money on the fishing equipment and that cash was hard to come by. He suggested that we might receive something else, such as wood carvings or another excursion, in exchange. I told the man that I just wanted the money, and he replied that I should meet Black William at the camp gate at five o'clock – in three hours. I knew it was probably going to be a futile task to get the money back, but I was not going to give up. At five, I walked out of the gate and, unsurprisingly, there was no one there. I decided not to worry about it for the rest of the evening – I had the whole next day to find Black William and get my refund.
After I finished playing pool, I noticed that there were about five people from our group dancing on the bar. The music was blaring, and after I finished my drink, I joined in. It was great fun until eleven o'clock came and the bartender turned the music down. He would have been happy to keep it loud, but he said he would be reprimanded by his boss. We left the bar and walked down to the beach for a night swim in the lake. Making sure to keep our mouths closed, we ran through a curtain of thousands of midges that swarmed between the lampposts. Once past them, we splashed into the refreshing dark water. A silent lightning storm in the distance flashed behind the silhouette of the lonely island and occasionally brightened the star-filled sky. After our swim, four of us – Deepa, Nix, Tom, and I – ran off to the truck for a four-person truck party. We put my iPod on and music boomed out of the truck's speakers as we danced in the narrow aisle between the seats. We were having an awesome night, and the music gradually increased in volume until it was absolutely pumping across the campsite. The highlight of the evening, however, came after a string of dance tracks when we switched gears and all started singing along to "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story. I could not imagine a truck party with better friends! It was a perfect end to an amazing night, and we finally crashed around three in the morning, only minutes before rain started pouring from the night sky.