Malawi: Kande Beach

On our drive to Kande Beach, Charles (our driver), pulled to the side of the road.  He saw boys selling the local delicacy and wanted us to try it:  roasted mouse.  Two boys were holding a stick with 6 mice skewered and bbqed.  They cost about 50 cents each.  We bought one, figuring we had to try it.  But, we weren’t sure how to eat it, so we asked the boys to show us.  One took a leg of the mouse, ripped it off and stuffed the whole thing…bones, fur, toes into his mouth.  Joshua copied him, except the piece he took didn’t come off as neatly.  It may have been the beginners’ mistake of pulling on the tail.  Basically, he got the whole bottom end (covered in its natural fur)  including all the internal organs.  When he put it in his mouth, his face turned green and he almost puked.  The majority of the mouse landed on the ground.  I took a small nibble of the mouse leg.  It tasted a little like furry chicken.  Our driver caught the whole thing on video including Joshua spitting out his mouse and me pumping myself up to take a bite.  In the end, Charles couldn’t believe we did it.  He said he wouldn’t eat a mouse if someone held a knife to his throat.  Then he laughed at us for being so gullible.  The only problem was that in all the confusion, our camera settings were off.  The pictures turned out black…and there was NO WAY we were going to do it again.  So here are a few we’ve tried to correct of us eating mouse for the first and last time.

After the mouse debacle, arriving at Kande Beach was a relief.  Lake Malawi is more like an ocean than a lake.  There are waves and a current.  You can’t see the other side.  Malawian kids swim in the water with no clothes on.

Parents splash around too.  The beach is for everyone.  We took advantage of an optional upgrade and ditched our tent for a few nights.  I’ve done more camping on this “holiday” than in the whole of my life…it’s not that bad, but we needed a bed and a place to put our stuff.  Too bad our beach front bungalow was home to millions of gnats.  They loved the lights.  They lived short lives and died on our pillows.  We woke up covered in them.  We didn’t factor in these additional guests when we paid $16 for the room…although the view was nice.

For the first time, we decided to turn down the optional activities that were offered.  No to scuba diving.  No to windsurfing.  A definite no to horseback riding.  The activities that we were drawn to were the ones that allowed us to relax while also mingling with the locals.  We took up the offer by the son of the village chief to go on a walking tour of the town.  He showed us where the locals get water.

We visited the school.

We toured the local hospital where we met a mother who had given birth two days earlier and took the first pictures of her and her baby (which we have mailed to the hospital for her to keep).  The crazy thing is that she had to walk 20km just to get to the hospital on the day she started feeling contractions.  She even let us hold her new baby.  The only problem was that there are no diapers.  The baby was wrapped in a blanket which was full of poop, but I didn’t know that until I took the baby in my arms and was covered in baby poop for the rest of the tour.  Joshua was confused when I handed the baby back so soon.

The entire time, kids from town would wave, ask for a high five or pose for pictures.

The young Malawian boys followed us, asking questions about our homes, families and jobs.  They practiced their English, looked for buyers for their art and generally welcomed us to Malawi (“make it your second home!”)


We even tried the local beer made with maize.  There is too much floating in it for my taste.

One afternoon, as we lounged around the beach, some locals were throwing a party and asked that we join.  First, there was a long game of “net ball” (I would call it volleyball).

It consisted of people in their Sunday best falling in the sand (and Joshua in his Zambezi River shorts that he traded for in Vic Falls).  Rarely did the ball go back over the net from the serve.  It was hilarious.  Second, they fed Joshua.  All the women became rather attached.  Each wanted him to try (and compliment) their dish.  Then they wanted to dance.  He soaked up the attention.  Note where all the ladies are looking.

Finally, one guest stood hovering around me, Lindel and Nicole.  He was complimenting us in English…sort of.  “You are delicious…so palatable…from your dirty feet (true!) to your upstairs.”  He had us in stitches.

We tore ourselves away from the entertainment in time to go to the Chief’s house for dinner.  William, his son, had invited us for a meal.  We ate traditional food, rice, nsima, stew and veggies on a mat on the floor.

Then some of the local children performed for us.  It started as a few songs.  They stood smiling and clapping their hands.

Then it turned into a full on dance party.  I do not know where these 4-10 year olds learned to move this way, but it was more intense than any of my high school dances.  These kids would shake it.  The little girls would stick their butts out and arch their backs and go for broke.

Then they pulled us from the audience to join.  We all looked at each other in doubt.  How much shaking is appropriate when an 8 year old is dancing in front of you?  Joshua even got to dance with twins…unfortunately for him, it was only William’s two 5 year-old sons.


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