It felt very special to wake up in Kabula Lodge this morning. As anyone who has travelled with MLOL in the past will tell you, the place has a way of getting under your skin and feel like home so quickly.
After the much longed for sleep last night we were feeling very refreshed and rejuvenated and it was time for breakfast. Sharon and Gillian are visiting for the first time so although it is great to experience everything again it is even nicer getting to witness others experiencing it for the first time like I had done just last year.
Breakfast on the terrace over looking the stunning view is the ultimate way to start any day and it will never not make you feel so very fortunate.
After breakfast it was time to become tourists for the day.
One thing I was looking forward to doing on this visit was having time to see more sights and visit tourist attractions as last year we didn’t have the chance to do much of this due to our delays (not of Blantyre anyway - we certainly seen every sight that Johannesburg airport had to offer).
So we made sure to pack some spending money to explore the tourist attractions and support the growing local tourist economy. We visited Game Haven which was around an hour away from where we are staying. Game Haven was a surreal experience and one we all felt very fortunate to be able to experience. We had booked in for the safari and were delighted that our driver Frances and his wonderful family had agreed to come along with us.
Seeing a child’s face light up with excitement at the sight of an animal is something that is the same across the world. During the safari we seen wildebeests, zebras, a range of antelopes, a giraffe and other animals too. It was in a stunning setting of 300 hectares and a real once in a lifetime experience. There is the opportunity to go on safari to see ‘the big 5’ here in Malawi but they tend to be slightly further away but something that would be amazing to do if you had more time in the area.
After lunch we left Game Haven and visited one of the nearby tea plantations. Tea is one of the country’s most important industries and main export crop. Tea is Malawi’s biggest employer with 50,000 people working in the sector. The plantation was stunning and a mix of large scale projects and small scale independent farmers. We’ve already got some Malawi tea bags packed for gifts!
We returned back to Kabula Lodge and made the most of the sunny weather to sit outside to discuss and revisit our upcoming training before we were joined by some of the education leaders for Blantyre. We were joined by; Cryton, Chief Education Officer for Blantyre Rural, Anita, Chief Education Officer for Blantyre Urban, and Wilson, Coordinating Primary Education Advisor.
We were formally welcomed to Malawi and as part of Anita’s introduction she said that she hoped we felt like we were in our second home and we all very much agreed this is exactly how we felt after only a short space of time (Malawi seems to have that affect on people). This was a great opportunity to formally meet the team and begin to finalise plans for the week ahead. There was great professional dialogue as we discussed training content but also the shared desire to plan for measuring impact and for sustainability (and also time for a quick Tunnocks Caramel Wafer to give a real taste of Scotland).
After the formal meeting Wilson shared some of his memories about his trip to Scotland in 2016 and his knowledge of our country would put some of our citizens to shame. It is heartwarming to see the shared appreciation of each others countries - their traditions and unique characteristics.
The only thing left to do today was to grab a bite to eat and head to bed for a relatively early night for the 5am alarm clock tomorrow as we plan to attend 6am mass at Stella Maris, something that I’m really looking forward to..not so much the getting up part though!