MALAWI: April 2018

The alluring smell of herbs, music blaring from a house, goats bleating. The lap of the water on the shore, the long stretch of untouched sand. The splash of a paddle in the water, the freshness of the air. The heat of the sun, the warmth of the people. Fishermen casting their nets out on the lake, others tending theirs at the water’s edge. The stench of fish laid out on long tables, drying in the sun – the sunlight glistening off their silvery scales.

The taste of freshly grilled choma and ginger. The cry of a fish eagle, soaring, seeking out its lunch in the clear blue waters below. Children waving, smiling, running, dancing, laughing, pushing a bicycle wheel with a stick. Birds singing, lizards scurrying. The powerful sound of a choir, the infecting energy of their dancing. The smell of the bar, the ice-cold beer calling.

The lush, green bush after the rains, blue and white flowers stretching across the damp grass. Pine trees reaching skywards, Mopani forest encroaching on the plains. Feeling the chill of the hills, a roaring fire to restore the warmth. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee. The hunger-inducing scent of the currybush, the excitement of walking among zebra, the thrill of a trout jumping.

Bushbuck barking like dogs, the ‘wee-wee’ shrill of an oxpecker, baboons shouting a warning, hyena howling. The sense of danger, the whiff of anticipation. The ubiquitous leopard track, but no sign of the elusive cat. The fiery red of a sunset, fog swirling in a spotlight. A sky full of stars, the hum of a bat’s wings. The sound of silence.

The rush of city living, the babble at a shopping mall, the chatter of the market, the kaleidoscope of colour on the fruit and veg stalls. Bright, patterned materials hanging on a line, banter with curio sellers, a bargain being struck.

The throb of a propeller, the various shades of green as you pass overhead, cut through by the brown of dirt tracks, the snaking wind of a river, the rolling hills, smoke rising from crops being burned off.

Crocs sliding into the water with barely a splash, hippo yawning, terrapin flapping, elephant sucking water up to drink. Trees made white by the excrement of cormorants.

The continuous hum of the forest, the tinkling of the river flowing. The babble of  monkeys, crickets, the nightjar and francolin. The dense vegetation. The destructive sweep of an elephant as he makes his way through the bush, trampling the vegetation. The trunk call as he flaps his ears and pretends to charge. Stories around the campfire. The knowledge that you will return.

This is Malawi.

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