Malawi 16 June: Cape Maclear

Malawi 16 June: Cape Maclear

On it's way to Blantyre the Peace Run team make a short stopover to picturesque Cape Maclear, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also the first freshwater national park in the world.

Cape Maclear is home to a vibrant and dynamic local community that appear to live predominantly on subsistence and small-scale commercial farming. Here we see the fishing boats shored up on the lake and the hand crafted racks for drying fish to the east of the boats. In the distance, fisherman ready their boats for their day's exploration out on the lake, and in some instances weaving and repairing their nets by hand, no small task!

We share the same sentiment, "We love Malawi too!" Having only been in Malawi for a few days we understand why it's so aptly been called the "warm heart of Africa." Such abounding kindness at every turn we've taken.

Rows and rows of raised fish drying racks.

This photo was taken just after sunrise. Everyday woman and children head down to the shoreline to wash their dishes and clothes.

Here a young lady carries a huge bucket of water on her head with seeming ease...but we know that's not the case or something we could manage with such grace!

This photo was taken with a drone and these young boys, having never seen such a gadget fly, were intrigued with exuberant excitement that could hardly be contained in their dancing and laughing as it whizzed past them.

Such concentration on their faces to see the drone footage that Abhijatri captured from the air.

...and even more intrigue when they watch the video of themselves just moments earlier rolling around in the sand rollicking in laughter.

This photo was taken at the start of our early morning run where we made friends with several of the community's young. Also, Demelza Benbow, shown waving on the right, is a teacher at Mountain View in Blantyre who Abhijatri and Balarka first met in Zimbabwe in Kuimba Shiri Bird Park at a Peace Walk in 2016. She had expressed back then what a wonderful event it was and that the Peace Run should visit Malawi, if ever the opportunity arose.

Everyone eager to hold our Peace Run flag.

Our team consisted of (from the right) Frank, Iman, Demelza, Penny and Laudrey in the front, followed by a troop of young friends and Abhijatri running with the gimbel to capture some video footage of our morning's run. We think Balarka might've clocked the most steps though as he had to always run ahead of the team to take all the photos. Sorry Balarka for drawing the shortest straw, but you are also our fittest member of the team!

Lots of curious onlookers. The team grew and ebbed as people joined us for short sprints, either stopping when they got tired, or went too far from their original destination.

We love how the baobab trees are preserved and stand tall as a beacon of pride in the village. It is said that carbon dating of the trees reveal that baobabs can live to an age of over two thousand years. If only trees could talk, the stories they would tell!

The team runs through the main street in Cape Maclear.

Proud flag of Malawi waving in the wind as chants of "Mtendere Wathamanga!" are echoed through the streets, encouraging others to join us on our run. This is Chechewa for "Peace Run!"

Iman, holding the Peace Torch and Frank, holding the Malawian flag are friends and entrepeneurs who make their living selling locally made wares, paintings, jewellery and even clothes that they sew themselves. They share with us their love of running telling us that running makes them strong.

We met this group of four young boys (in front of Iman holding the torch) earlier in the morning. On the side they also front as a band playing music for tourists. They loved seeing us run and opted instead to forego band practise for an early morning run.

In the spirit of the Peace Run, the world's longest running relay, we take turns to hold the Peace Torch. Here Frank takes the lead.

This young boy is so skilled at rolling a bicycle tyre whilst running at the same time!

Yet another majestic baobab tree, and yes it's very, very tall! Look how small we are in comparison.

Demelza and Frank in the front.

Laudrey running with the Peace Run flag.

Penny with her new friends! Even they were chanting "Mtendere wathamanga!" too.

A brief pause for everyone to regroup and collect our breath.

Our young band eagerly leading the way.

"Mtendere wathamanga!"

...even the little ones keep going.

Nothing is impossible, with a friend or three!

So this is what a bird's eye view looks like.

Oh Penny, you look more tired than the little ones. Keep going!

We love how these young ones had the stamina and joy to keep running with us.

Time-out to wave.

A few of the local villagers sit outside for Sunday service at the St Thomas Church. We must've looked like quite a sight, a motley crew of runners.

The Billy Riordan Memorial Trust is a clinic that serves the medical needs of the local community and was established in 2004 by Mags Riordan, Billy's mother, and in memory of him.

The team stops at the clinic on the way back to the start of our Run.

Here Demelza invites one of the local doctors to hold the Peace Torch to add her wish for a more peaceful world.

And then there's always time for a group photo!

Iman helps one of the young boys who tripped while running too fast. Thanks Iman for looking after each one in the team. Thoughtfulness and kindness in action.

Final stretch for the team as we head back into town...seemingly tiny specks in the bottom right of the photo.

Thanks Laudrey for keeping up the team spirit. We made it home.

Hats off to all our young team members who ran all the way with us - aspiring runners and invaluable members on our run.
Thank-you to all for a precious morning run!

Good-bye Cape Maclear. This is the land of baobab trees, a land of giants - giant trees and people with giant self-giving hearts.