We spent over a week by the stunning Lake Malawi, all through from Boxing day and the gap-week (Finnish name for the week between Christmas and New Year) until New Year. I left on the third; Hanna stayed. I don't quite know how I spent all the days- I didn't read any of the books I'd brought, nor did I write in my journal; but the days flowed past, easy and fast.
New Year's Eve was nice (what a horrible word, nice, boring and full of air) but nothing unusual; a big party, on the sun deck overlooking the lake, and later, at a bar in town. All the backpackers brought out their most flattering and cleanest clothes, long-forgotten make up bags, and I helped Amanda straighten her hair, and Sari lent me her eyeshadow. We felt gorgeous. Everyone got drunk, nearly missed the stroke of midnight, danced, stayed up till dawn whilst sending random texts to loved ones back home. It was just a party, but it was a party in Malawi, and I'm sure that in years to come, I'll look back and think of it fondly.
On our last day, we went on a boat trip, Hanna, Sari, I and a few Dutch, few Danish people. I'm not much of a water person; I've never been interested in diving, and I don't care much about swimming, but went along anyway, to do cliff jumping. Cliff jumping is exactly what it sounds like- you climb up to the amazingly sharp rock formations along the lake, and jump off into the water. I went to the highest summit, of course, with the boys (it's always with the boys; never with the girls. At home, I don't even have many male friends. Odd.), stared into the crystal clear water, scared and still, and ran off it.
Being airborne in any way is the most fantastic feeling- there's nothing quite like it. When I hit the water and sank, I opened my eyes and looked around, and everything was turquoise and bubbly, and I felt weightless and happy.
Back at the hostel I went to comb my hair and almost didn't recognise the girl looking back at me- this one was tanned, blond, slimmer and glowier, and turning thirty this year, in Africa, alone, but finally feeling good about it.
I stayed in Lilongwe a few days after the arduous bus journey from the north, mainly because I didn't feel like going back to Lusaka just yet. I sat drinking and talking shit with the guys at the bar, and during the day I went sightseeing and shopping at the markets with a lovely Irish girl Evie. Lilongwe is far more pleasant than Lusaka- cleaner, greener and friendlier, and somehow much less affected by the western culture. I bargained at the carver's market, and bought bookends for the house I don't have, and, quite unknowingly, beads which are meant to signal fertility (a guy at the hostel told me this, but he might have made it up to get everyone laughing). Anyway, it doesn't matter; I've come to expect the unexpected; after all, I never thought I'd ever spend Christmas in Malawi.
So far, it's turning out to be a pretty good year.