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Faith in Fait...and thats all

MALAWI | Thursday, 6 October 2011 | Views [637] | Comments [2]

WOW. What in the bloody hell just happened to me. I don't even know where to begin. But lets preface this with, wow life is amazing (that can be good and bad) and I am so thankful for fait, which if I didn't believe in it before, I sure as hell believe in it now, I'd be a fool not to.

So I am in the airport in Kenya, a man walks past and says "lake of stars" and points to me, I smile because, how could he know I was going there. Well anyway it was kool so I get even more excited for the festival. I saw a girl alone in the lobby and said I must talk to her, I forced myself to introduce myself, only to find out she was also going to the festival. She is from the UK, name is Miriam. She is being picked up in Malawi at the airport by someone who has a hired a driver to take care of her until the festival...funny. But thats the African way sometimes. Later I see the man who shoutted at me "lake of stars". He is a Malawian business man named Mixon, hes an artist, and traveller. He's been in China ordering construction parts...grrr. But hey, to each their own. Biz is Biz. He's older, funny, and kind, so we exchange emails.

At the airport, I am worried, everyone's bags are taking over and hour to claim. And I don't really know how I am supposed to get to the festival from the airport which is 4 hours away. But I was told to look for a shuttle which will cost 50 dollars. I find several others who are in the same boat and we find the shuttle. Its a rip off they scam us for 80dollars each. Annoying but at least I am on my way. I sit next to an Aussie girl who is studying in South African girl named Jaimie, shes fun and down to party, I like her already. Later people are being dropped off at their previously reserved lodges, I cannot find my info about where I am booked to stay, nor can anyone from the organization find my registration. At one lodge, I go in and find a reservation for girl called "nina lex"...I refuse to accept that they could have messed up that bad and I continue down the road arriving and the last lodge and campsite, but great I have no reservation and no tent and the lodge is completely booked...I am stranded. Jaimie has told me if things don't work out, I can stay with her for the night in her tent. Well I end up loosing her in the unorganized mess at the lodge. I am now officially freaked out. Somehow I find her in the dark. I tell her whats going on, so we set up camp in a location that is apparently incorrect and we are sweaty, smelly, and hungry. By 1130, we realize we are in the wrong spot and we have to walk 2 kilometers to the new and correct campsite. I help set up camp, and am officially over it! She passes out and I stay up for a too expensive dinner with her southafrican guy friends who are funny and sarcastic like me. But now..we want to rest. Luckily its warm because all I have is small travel blanket and pillow.

The next morning, I am still trying to track down my reservation, but theres no such existance. Jaimie kindly offers me her tent for the weekend which saves money anyway and im closer than expected to the fest with a great crew to hang with. Plus is beach camping, morning swims are required! We get in the clean calm fresh water of Lake Malawi. Woo Hoo. The festival has finally begun. We lounge around and I meet our neighbors, Mike (a mixed creature of malawian decent, currently living in Canada) and Al (also a vegan who is finding food options difficult). They are fun, and within minutes tell me that they have space in their truck if I want to travel a bit after the fest. I am soo down!

The music begins late in the day, I hoop to the sunset around 6:30. Later  the reggae pulses and I hoop some more. My crew runs off for food and I am requested by an Aussie couple to hoop for them as they photograph me. As soon as I finish, we sit to review the photos. A drunken man in front of me wants to hoop so I hand it off, another taps me eagerly from behind, and a bit too hard so I ignore him. They finally leave, but within minutes I realize there is something wrong, my back pack which was right next to me is gone. Did I leave it somewhere or did it get taken...it was the latter, people around noticed this scene and chase to find the men, but in the dark night its impossible.

In total, Passport 100usd dollars, 75 Malawian dollars, Debit card, ID, Camera and 5memory cards, Phone (which was never used)

I run to the police who direct me to the police headquarters at the fest. The man there laughs at me and tells me to sit down. He does this 3 times. Each time I get up pleading for him to hurry and help, he says he has told someone to come help but he is lying. So ask for a peice of paper, I write my info and story and I run away to the main stage. They rush a message on the mic for me and announce the situation. I run to the festival headquaters and explain and they are soo sorry for me and take my info. The lodge there lets me use the comp. So now mid festival I am having to research what to do when things like this happen.

I contact my friends and family, the embassy, and find out I can only replace the passport in Lilongwe, the Malawian capital. Luckily, I get an email from Mixon, the Malawian man I had met on the airplane, he lives in Lilongwe and is online, so I tell him what happens. He assures me that when I reach Lilongwe, I will have a place to stay and he can take me to the embassy to fix everything. Thats lucky.

The search goes on. I find my crew and they are freaked out by what happen. I am still strong and have not cried yet. I go to a rock on the shore and meditate. Minutes later I run to the police who have found my bag with nothing inside. Not even the passport. Who the fuck needs MY passport. Soo annoying! The police again laugh at me. I had all my important things in a hidden compartment which the robbers obviously couldnt find to get in, so they sliced the bag open. I guess I was lucky it wasn't me they sliced into. A girl who has heard about it, shoves a couple bucks at me and says, at least eat something tomorrow ok? so nice!

I go to bed that night worried but hopeful that something will get turned in for me later tomorrow. I wake up and do yoga and meditate on all the horrible things that could have happened and also all the worse things that re going on in the world...there are many things to be thankful for. I was happy to get back on the net to find out that I had a wonderful parent who has wired me some cash to help while I was stranded. I find out also that I would need to get a police report for a new passport. The nearest town was 20miles away. The woman at the headquarters gives me bus fair to town but says I need to hitchhike back...so kind.

I head to the road where 3 cars stop but aren't going far enough to take me to the town. Finally a nice SUV rolls up and a boy says he can take me but I explain I have no money. He says its no problem at all. He is an african man named Sam. After talking a bit, we realize, he is the escort that was hired to take care of Miriam (the girl from UK I met in the airport lobby) what a funny coinsidence. Anyway he takes me to get the money transfer which is a catstrophe because my parents filled out the paperwork wrong and I have no phone to call them so the woman is refusing to give me the money. Stranded again. Sam buys airtime and I call USA, they luckily answer the phone and I get the info, and get my money. Down the road we go to the police station where I have to bribe the men 25dollars to get my police report. The process to get that paper with less than 100words on it takes 1 1/2 hours.

Sam who said he would be back in a half hour, still has not shown up, so I sit outside the station waiting for another hour. I am over it, so I decide to start walking. A few miles down the road he picks me up with appoligize that he had to run an errand for Miriams crew. He has explained everything to them and that night I will see her and talk to her because now I am in a search for a ride to Lilongwe to get the passport as soon as possible.

That night I find Miriam while I am hula hooping, I am determined to enjoy the remaining time here. She aids me in hooking up a ride to Lilongwe Sunday morning with her friends. That night I dance, and hoop and have the best time I can have, considering. In the morning, I pack and rush out and get to the meeting location where I wait for 3 hours for my ride. Who by the way never shows up. Once again I am stranded, its one thing after another. On my way back to the campsite, where I see Mike and Al who I have not seen the entire festival. They run up to me claming they have been hearing about my story. And they are sorry for me. They say they are headed to Lilongwe friday and can give me a lift then. So I agree to tag along with them and we all sleep in the 8 man tent that night.

The next day is Monday, we swim and relax, and later head out to cape Maclear. On the way they stop at the Crocodile farm where crocs are raised to eat and skin, I don't tell them why, but I refuse to go in and I am surprized the other vegan (Al) is attending such a place, but whatever. We arrive and set up camp and see the beautiful clean water. How exciting!! I jump in and swim my heart out. Its soo relaxing here on Lake Malawi. Its like my giant bath tub, or even a babtismal tub where I feel refreshed and sin free. That night we hang out on the beach with some dear friends from Belgium who are soo funny. Its a relaxing day on the candlelit beach.

The next morning, we rent kayaks and head to the island where we go snorkeling. I am in a Kayak with a German friend Jonas. We hare having some issues but we finally arrive. The snorkelling is the best I have ever seen. So many neon colored fish who swim up to your skin when you are still. Mike has an underwater camera which we go crazy over as well. Man this life is sooo amazing. The locals are very friendly although there are too many rasta men hunting me on the beach and for the first time I feel shy wearing red/gold/green colors. They even try to tell me they can fix my dreads and make them look nice, I just about bit one of them as they held my sacred locks in his hand. GRRRRR

Anwway that night we make some traditional african food over top an outdoor fire on coals, i was the fire lady and got it going, this is the traditional African way anway so I am not troubled by it. During dinner, some other travellers with instruments strum us some tunes and we have a lovely evening with the dim light and waves rushing upon the shore.

Next morning, we discuss the plans that the boys had about going to the capitol on Friday. I realize I wont be back in time to get my passport and so I run to the reception desk to find another ride. Miraculously after calling a few other lodges, they tell me to run down the beach where two German women with their own car are leaving soon to the Lilongwe. I run my heart out and find them preparing. They say I can have a ride no problem. I am sooo lucky.

I hop in the car and end  up staying the night a back packers hostel in Lilongwe because I cant get ahold of Mixon. It's getting dark but I want to make a meal so I walk to the local store a 10min walk away. I hurry to beat the sunset but on the way back I get lost. There I am again vulnerable in the dark and on the wrong road when a car pulls up a side street and stops with his head out...its Mixon...OMG I cannot bealive my luck..fait has taken care of me yet again.

Although I have to replace my passport, camera, phone, and all that money I know how truly lucky I am.

I am now in the USA embassy and have just been handed my passport. I am one of the luckiest people I know, I really do have fait on my side.

A note about the festival:

First of all, I am not alone on this experience. In fact I think many other people will never go again. The picture that is painted on the website, is that Lake of Stars is a community festival that helps uplift and support Malawi. Well in fact its just opposite that. Outside of the festival, you will find small huts set up by locals to sell goods, cook foods and othewise make extra cash at the fest. Also there are hundreds of kids running around and playing but mostly demanding, not asking, for money from the white people. So you walk from your campsite past this craziness, and you enter a gate where you only see white and upper class africans. The kids are no longer seen, and the vendors charge high prices for foods. There are 3 stages where you can find small and large artsits peforming but the entire event is fenced in and private. Entry is a huge price that offers a very small discount to locals for entry. This really is not a community event. There is no support or scholarships for those who cannot afford it, really there is no discount for the poor population which is rampant, and kids aren't free to enter.

They should have had cd raffles to send revenue to local schools or womens projects...or at least they could have had a stage outside the festival or even half way on one side of the fence so the kids and local vendors could have enjoyed some dancing and music as well. Or even had lessons on traditional dancing or drumming or art. Instead they brought in cheap radio music dj's from the UK and created a club scene on the dj stage. I am overly annoyed completely unimpressed and I will never support this festival again until its changed its manner and many others will follow this path of dissappointment. Don't be fooled by the great documentary you will see online. psh!

Tags: africa, fate, lake of stars, lilongwe, malawi

Comments

1

Ymama loves you and continues to be inspired by you!!

  Ymama Oct 7, 2011 1:09 PM

2

I'm so sorry about what happened to your camera, passport, and money. But at least, the positive you experienced the wonderful side of humanity. Did you get a new passport? Or was it returned to you? I don't know how I'd react if my camera was stolen since I love taking pictures so much (I also love seeing other people's pictures, so it would be great to see your pictures from Africa. If you can take pictures). But someone told me the most important pictures are taken by the heart.

  Rashaad Oct 9, 2011 1:06 AM

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