25.09.2016 - 05.10.2016
Another long blog update, covering over a week. The wifi here hasn't been cooperative enough for me to post more frequently.
Sunday, 25 September
Today was uneventful: a full day of driving lay before us. We had to drive around 550km, from Arusha to Bagomoyo.
We had returned to the same campsite in Arusha, which was nice. The drive to Bagomoyo was quite long. Since there wasn’t much going on during the day, I’ll illustrate a typical day spent driving on the truck.
We’re usually up early to take down our tents and pack up the truck before heading in to have breakfast. Our amazing driver, TK, and guide, Nyka, have been making us some truly amazing food thus far on the trip. Breakfast has been hearty and filling, with toast, coffee or tea, fruit, and occasionally something hot (like French Toast). We have a short time to eat the breakfast before we need to wash up our dishes and board the truck to leave.
We while away the time on the truck talking with one another, reading, sleeping, or playing cards (there is an area at the front of the truck where four people can sit and play games on a small freezer). I’ve done a considerable amount of time reading and listening to music (I’ve been finishing my history of the Crimean War).
Around midday we find a nice place to pull over on the side of the road for lunch. We all help get the tables and chairs setup outside the truck and occasionally help TK and Nyka with the lunch (for example, washing or cutting up veggies; wiping off the plates; organizing the silverware). Lunches are sometimes quick affairs where we just have a sandwich (which is still quite filling); other days they can make more elaborate meals (ie. hamburgers).
The afternoon is spent driving and entertaining ourselves. Once we arrive at our campsite late in the afternoon, we have to scramble out to get our tents put up. The tents are quite easily to put up and down, thankfully. After the first day we got the hang of it and have become experts at it. The tents themselves leave something to be desired; they smell rather musty, but are large enough to fit two people. Max and I have been taking turns sharing a tent with Larry, who prefers to share a tent with someone rather than have one to himself.
Dinner is typically around 19:00 or 19:30, which gives us some time to shower and relax before eating. We usually check email (if the wifi is working), have drinks, and play cards (either Carbo or Uno).
The campsite in Bagomoyo was decent and went spent a quiet evening there.
Monday, 26 September
Today was the start of our excursion to Zanzibar – and some much needed relaxation on the beach!
We drove a short distance (70km) to Dar es Salaam, where we boarded the ferry to Zanzibar. Prior to boarding the ferry, we walked over to a small supermarket to stock up on some snacks. The ferry ride itself took just around two hours. We cornered two rows at the front of the boat; I spent the time on the boat reading and listening to music.
Upon arrival in Zanzibar we had to go through passport control (strange, given the fact that Zanzibar is part of Tanzania…). The arrivals hall was pure chaos as everyone from the boat was scrambling to collect their luggage and clear passport control. We had all packed a small day bag for our excursion and left our large bags locked away on the truck in Dar es Salaam, so we weren’t part of the mad rush. Nyka stayed behind with the truck, while TK journeyed to Zanzibar with his wife for holiday.
The excursion was handled through a third party provider, Sun Tours, who met us outside the ferry terminal. Our guide, JJ, took us to our lodgings for the night and left us to relax and explore for the rest of the day. We reached the hotel around 15:00; we were all in hotel/bungalow rooms during the stay in Zanzibar, which was amazing!
The hotel was right on the beach, so we all unpacked and them headed out to the beach to relax. The beach was quite pretty and clean. We lounged around on the beach, chatting and soaking in the sun while drinking beers. I also spent a little bit reading more of my book. We had nothing to worry about, no plans; nothing to do but kick back until dinner.
Dinner was served buffet-style in the hotel restaurant overlooking the ocean. We spent some time hanging out, playing cards again after dinner before retiring for the night.
Tuesday, 27 September
Larry and I decided to wake up at 04:00 this morning so we could watch the first presidential debate on the BBC. Surprisingly we stayed awake for the entire debate too! I rather enjoyed watching Hillary take on Trump, though I wanted to scream at some of the ridiculous things that he would say. Once the debate ended, we went back to sleep. I hadn’t planned to monitor anything election-related during this trip, but I am quite glad that I was able to watch the debate.
Today we had a few guided tours arranged before we got to relax on the beach again in the afternoon.
After breakfast at the hotel, we met back up with JJ for a guided walking tour of Stonetown, the city where we first arrived. The town was rather interesting to get to explore. We first got to see the so-called “House of Wonder”… which is anything but nowadays. It is a massive, old colonial-style building with a clock tower on the top. The part that made this house so wondrous was the fact that it had a lift in it! The city planned to use it as a museum, but abandoned those plans as it continued to deteriorate.
We walked on through a small square near the port before heading into the city’s fort, which was built by the Portuguese. Inside the fort there was a large amphitheater and then several stalls where we did some souvenir shopping. I bought myself a necklace and an artsy picture of a rhino (the mascot for this tour!). All of the vendors swarmed to Larry for some reason, pushing their wares on him; I said that I think it is because he’s always got a smile on his face and he seems approachable.
We left the fort behind and started going through the city proper, stopping outside of the house where Freddy Mercury was born (yes – the lead singer from Queen was born in Zanzibar). There were several signs outside the house to commemorate his birth there.
Afterwards we spent a little while walking around a shopping street, buying more souvenirs. Some shops had some truly amazing paintings for sale displayed along the street. I bought my sister a postcard, but otherwise refrained from buying anything else. Rafa stopped in a so-called dollar store (though nothing actually cost a dollar); she found a collection of friendship bracelets there and called me over. She had the idea of buying seven of them, one for each member of Team Rhinomax. We tried to negotiate with the vendor, but he wouldn’t come down in price (we offered $1 each, but he wanted $10 for the seven), so we left. As we were preparing to leave the area, the vendor ran up to us and agreed to the price of $1 each.
The next stop of the walking tour was rather somber and sad: the museum of slavery. The slave trade had been a major part of business in Zanzibar, with slaves being brought to Stonetown and being sold there. We went inside a church that had been built on the site where the slaves were sold. The slaves were brought to the town, kept in chains in a small room for two days, then whipped with a stingray tail while tied to a post to test their strength, and then sold. Inside the church was a small circular tile near the altar where the whipping post was located.
Outside of the church was a memorial to the slaves: several statues of slaves in chains, and the chains were some of the chains that were used by slaves! It was haunting.
Nearby was a very nice museum that we explored, detailing out the history of the African slave trade in Zanzibar (which was only abolished late in the 1800s). In the basement were two of the original rooms where the slaves were kept for two days, without food or water. The rooms were very small and there were usually 50 to 75 people in each room. This experience really hammered home the cruelty and brutality of slavery; I kept thinking that half of the United States had fought a war to maintain those horrors.
The final stop in Stonetown was the fish market, which smelled awful! Joana and I were reluctant to go inside, but we hurried through the place. There were a lot of stalls with squids on display, as well as on with some massive stingrays. We found our way to the vegetable vendors and the smell instantly cleared up.
We boarded the bus and headed off to our second event of the day: a tour of a spice farm. Upon arrival we were met by two guys who worked there; they weaved frond necklaces for everyone (ties for the men, frogs for the women). We were shown around the various spice plants, where we could smell and taste several of them. Later on we saw a guy climb a palm tree to retrieve coconuts, during which we was singing and dancing around. Once he was done we were all treated to our own coconut.
Lunch was at the spice farm and was ok, nothing spectacular. We all sat on the ground around a communal tablecloth (I was reminded of meals from Iran). The spice farm was just so-so; it was interesting to see the different plants, but they kept bombarding us to buy products and to tip everyone, which got quite annoying.
Once we were done eating, we headed out to the town of Nungwi, where our next lodging was located. This was another hotel and we stayed here for two days; I was lucky to get the single room during this stay. Previous travelers had mentioned in their reviews that many of them had been robbed at the hotel (the hotel staff would steal things from their rooms), so I was very careful with my valuables.
Several of us headed out to the beach to relax, but it was not nearly as nice a beach as our previous hotel.
Next to us on the beach was a very attractive guy who we surmised must be a gymnast as he was doing various gymnastic moves on the beach: stretching, handstands, leg lifts, etc. I... may have "accidentally" turned me camera his way and he... may have ended up in some of my photos. How that happened is beyond me...
Thankfully the hotel was located on the beach and had a wonderful outdoor bar/restaurant where we went to relax during happy hour. The drink service was extremely slow, taking nearly an hour to get our first drinks (the drinks themselves were quite weak).
During the buffet dinner I sat next to Dennis; he kept playing some amazingly hilarious videos; I was laughing so hard that I was crying.
Wednesday, 28 September
Today was a day for relaxation for me and several of the girls. There were two optional activities (snorkeling or diving) that several people opted to go on, but I decided to spend the day at the hotel. Sadly the weather was not very good and it rained most of the day.
After breakfast, Rafa and Joana walked out to the beach; Maite and I stayed behind and had a shot to start the day off.
Rafa, Joana, Maite and I walked into the small village to find some snacks and alcohol. Our plans for the day revolved around relaxing and drinking. We wandered across the main square to a small shop, but it was an Islamic shop and thus didn’t sell alcohol; we were directed to a different store. After visiting two different shops that sold alcohol, we settled on some vodka and mango juice.
Back at the hotel Rafa and Joana mixed up our drinks using some empty water bottles. We had planned to walk out along the beach, but the rain began to pick up, so we returned to the hotel restaurant. Oddly, we came across several cows on the beach and then some dogs ran up and began barking at them.
We ran into TK and his wife at the hotel restaurant; they kindly agreed to look after our bags while we went swimming in the pool. It was raining quite a bit, but it was quite wonderful getting to swim around. We brought our drinks over to the pool to enjoy while we relaxed there. As a thank you to TK, I bought him and his wife each a beer.
We continued drinking throughout the afternoon. When those who went snorkeling returned, we all hung out around the pool. I took a break to head back to my room so I could trim my hair and work on my blog update (this was the update for the Serengeti, not this one… I was behind in my writing).
When I rejoined the group we were all playing cards and drinking before dinner. Dinner was rather good and filling. Two of the people from our group were leaving us the following day and we were getting two new people upon our return to Dar es Salaam; we joked that we should all go by different names when meeting the new people. I decided to be Yuri from Estonia (I’d vowed to be “Estonian” during the trip).
After dinner… it was a rough night. Continued drinking by all. Much debauchery. I eventually passed out. And puked. Klassy, with a capital K. This pictures... speak for themselves. Good times were had by all!
I’m now called Yuri by one and all – including Nyka and TK.
Thursday, 29 September
Ugh… this morning. I was surprisingly only lightly hung over; more exhausted than anything. I was the first person out to breakfast, where I forced myself to eat something. It was a rough morning… I napped on the bus back to Stonetown, hoping that I could just sleep until we got to Dar es Salaam, where I would just crawl into bed (we had another night with a hotel room).
The ferry back to Dar es Salaam was pure hell. The crossing was rough, with the boat pitching around quite a bit. The crew handed out sick bags to everyone and a vast majority of the people onboard did get sick during the crossing. I sat in my seat and tried to sleep, but spent the entire ride with my eyes closed hoping to not get sick. Thankfully I made it… barely.
Back in Dar es Salaam we had to take the BRT bus from the terminal to our hotel. The bus was packed and at each successive stop more people would cram onto the bus. The ride lasted about 15 minutes and then we were able to check in to the hotel. Larry opted to have the single room, so Max and I had to share. When we reached the room, we discovered that there was only one bed (and the door would barely open). The staff moved Max into his own room at no additional cost.
Larry and I walked a short way down the road outside the hotel before deciding against further exploration. Upon returning to the hotel I went back to my room to finish my Serengeti blog while watching the BBC.
The hotel left a lot to be desired: keys wouldn’t work for many of the rooms; lights didn’t work; the water for the showers ran out (I thankfully got a nice warm shower in before that happened). Dinner was alright; I ate a lot of the fried rice, which helped to settle my stomach. After the events of the previous night I vowed to refrain from drinking during the rest of the trip, so I had a Coke instead. Two new people joined our group at dinner, replacing the German couple who left in Zanzibar: Jane from the UK and Linda from the Netherlands.
After dinner we played cards again before I finally went to bed around 22:00.
Friday, 30 September
Today was spent on a long drive: around 300km from Dar es Salaam to Mikumi. There was nothing exciting about the drive.
The campsite was rather dodgy and unpleasant. Prior tours had been robbed at this location, so we were all hyper-aware of our belongings. There were random animal statues throughout the site that were quite strange. There was also a small pool that looked questionable; none of us went swimming. There was even an empty “Snake House” building in the complex; I was very glad that there were no snakes. The place had ants everywhere!
We spent the evening playing cards before and after dinner.
Saturday, 1 October
Today we started with an early morning game drive through the Mikumi National Park. Team Rhino Max reunited for this game drive. Sadly, the game drive was not very exciting (we were spoiled by our excursion to the Serengeti!). The drive lasted roughly four hours.
We saw several giraffes, zebras, and buffalo on our way into the park. The first giraffe was right next to the road and quickly started to walk away. Rafa yelled after it “Come back bitch! I paid for you bitch!” The giraffe just ignored her though!
The true highlight of the game drive was watching some lionesses preparing to hunt a giraffe! We drove up to the lone giraffe and saw two lionesses slowly stalking it, each one coming from a different direction. Sadly, they decided not to go for the kill and walked away after a little while. We waited around for a few more minutes to see if they would change their minds or go for a different kill, but no luck. Had we been able to follow them around the park all morning, we were sure that we would have seen a kill; the lions were hungry and clearly on the hunt for something. As we were leaving that area, Maite yelled at the giraffe “You’re supposed to die today, bitch!”
The next highlight was seeing a crocodile on the side of the road, right next to a watering hole. The trucks pulled up and we were able to get out to walk around. The crocodile was perhaps 10 feet from where we were standing; just lying there soaking up the sun. We cautiously took several photos, the girls deciding to take some selfies with the sleeping crocodile.
The last thing we saw was a small herd of elephants, including a mother elephant with her baby. We got to sit around and watch them for a few minutes before it was time to return to our campsite.
Upon arriving back at camp, we broke down our tents and had lunch before setting out on our drive for the day. It was a short drive, around 200km, to reach our next campsite in Iringa. Camp for the night was in a very charming complex with small huts and bungalows dotted around it. We gathered outside of our tents to play some cards before having dinner.
Dinner was prepared by the staff at the site inside their restaurant and was served by candlelight. After dinner a few of us went to the bar in the next room over to have a brownie; it was the first true dessert that we’d had on the trip and tasted so damn good! I decided to head to be around 21:00 as we had to be up at 04:30 the next morning for a very early start to the day. On the way back to the tents I met Dennis and Cynthia; they were taking some pictures of the night sky. Once again we were able to see an incredible amount of start, including the band of the Milky Way. No matter how many times I see a night sky like that, it will always be breathtaking. Dennis tried to take some pictures with me included, but I ended up looking like a strange space alien: my face was a bright spot among the darkness, which was hilarious.
Sunday, 2 October
Today was the longest day that we’ve yet had on the trip, but it wasn’t as terrible as it may sound. We were up at 04:30 to break down the tents, pack, and have breakfast. We hit the road around 05:30 so we could make the 465km drive to northern Lake Malawi. The distance may not sound too bad, but this is Africa and roads are awful. The road heading out of Tanzania was particularly bad as the main road was under construction, so we were forced to used several detours that were littered with potholes. The truck (and us inside of it) were bounced all over the place for quite a long time.
Passport control leaving Tanzania was a breeze: we simply walked up to the window, the female officer was incredibly friendly as she quickly stamped our passports and we left.
The border crossing into Malawi was the… “highlight” of the day. Nyka had warned us that the Malawi border guards were very corrupt and would often try to exert a bribe from people. The typical procedure revolved around claiming that one needed an invitation letter to receive a visa; this is bogus as no letter is required and the visa can be obtained at the border. However, buying this “letter” effectively means the money goes into the pocket of the border guard. This problem only affected those who had to actually get a visa at the border; thankfully I had obtained mine before leaving the United States (along with the other visas I needed for this trip). Nevertheless, I was still apprehensive when we arrived.
I filled out the entry card and handed it over to the guard with my passport open to my Malawi visa. He studied it all for a minute and then started asking me a question; it was hard to hear him and I was worried that he was going to make me pay something extra. All he wanted to know was whether my visa was single-entry or multiple-entry (mine was multi-entry). He stamped my passport and I was done.
Those who had to get a visa did so without any issues and no one needed to buy the mysterious invitation letter. However, we ran into a major problem when their processing system went down before they could process our truck through. The system was down from 13:00 to 16:00, effectively stranding us at the border. Nyka and TK were highly annoyed and it quickly became clear that this wasn’t a form of corruption that money could solve. We simply had to wait since they had to manual process in place for this eventuality.
After about an hour, Nyka and TK managed to arrange for the truck to go through the border gate and pull over so they could make us lunch (by this point it was 15:00 and we hadn’t eaten since 05:30!). While lunch was being made, the rest of the visas were issued and the system came back up. As we were leaving after lunch we discovered the real reason for what happened: the border control office was without electricity!
We drove on for roughly two more hours before finally arriving at our campsite right on the beach of Lake Malawi. We were rather disappointed with the site as it seemed run down. Those with actual accommodations had rooms that were extremely hot without any air flow. Those of us in tents pitched them in spots on the sandy hill heading down to the beach. Larry, Max and I setup our tents closest to the beach.
Jane and I explored the campsite for a little bit and found a charming little bar area overlooking the beach. The more we explored, the better the campsite appeared. We hung out at the bar area after dinner, chatting before taking a night stroll along the beach. We also met the manager of the facility, who is an American from St Louis; she is here in Malawi for a year doing volunteer work. The campsite belongs to the charity organization and helps the locals.
Monday, 3 October
Despite not having to be up for breakfast until 08:30, many of us were up around 05:00. The sun had already risen and so I decided to do some reading. I finished my Crimean War book and was now starting to read “Atlas Shrugged” (my second time reading this amazing book). I found a seat under a tree overlooking the beach and settled in to read for a while. It was the most relaxing and enjoyable morning of the trip yet!
After breakfast we headed out for a two-hour walking tour of the village, guided by three locals. They were involved with the charity organization, which focuses on education for the locals, especially helping them to get into university; the three guides were awaiting their entrance exam results to see if they were accepted into university.
We walked by the elementary school, where the children rushed to greet us. Most of them were eating their breakfast of porridge, which is provide free by the school (this food is often the incentive to send a kid to school). We took several pictures with the kids and were shown around their classroom; there were around 120 kids at the school, split into two classrooms where they were taught spelling, math, morals, etc.
Later we visited the primary school and got to interact with the children some more. They were all so happy and energetic. They loved to see the pictures that we took of them; they would gather around the cameras and get huge smiles as they looked at themselves in the pictures.
Our next stop was the local health clinic, where we were shown around by one of the attendants. We were shown the maternity ward, where mothers would recover after giving birth, as well as the room where the babies were born. They had an extensive family planning program, including providing condoms free to locals and contraception options. We got to meet the head doctor of the clinic, as well as see the female and male ward rooms for those people needing to stay for longer periods of time. The attendant told us that the number of people with AIDS had been declining in recent years, which is really promising to hear. Sadly the beds and equipment they had to use were old and run down, but they made the most of what they had and what they received (which was very little).
The last stop was a goat house, which is part of a woman empowerment effort; the women take care of the goats and other animals, learning farming and other essential skills to help make them self-sufficient so they can make good livings on their own (ie. without being beholden to a man).
The charity organization supports all of these areas of the village, helping to improve the lives of the locals. Their main problem is a lack of money; they have tons of kids wanted to attend school, but not enough money to pay for them all. The village tour was a really moving experience and was really enjoyable (despite the fact that it was insanely hot!). It really emphasized the struggles that millions in Africa go through on a daily basis; hammering home the incredible differences between the luxuries of the Western World with the poverty of Africa, especially here in Malawi (the poorest country in Africa). It was encouraging to hear how many young people are eager to get a higher education though; more education will help the process of improvement.
I spent the afternoon back at the bar, doing some work. A soccer game with the locals was held on the beach; Max, Tim and Larry went down to participate. Today was Maite’s 30th birthday, so she and the girls (Rafa, Joana, Hana, and Emma) spent the day relaxing at the beach before starting in on the drinks they brought from Tanzania (vodka). Larry joined them after the game; by dinner time they were all rather tipsy and having a good time.
There was a store next to the campsite that sold a lot of local handicrafts, including hand carved keychains. The guy who owned the shop would carve them within 20 minutes or so: an animal on one side and words on the other side. Max and I headed over to negotiate with him to order seven keychains for Team Rhino Max. We got him to agree to a price of $3.50 each, which was a discount from the original price of $5 each. Several people had ordered similar items from the guy, so it took him a long time to get them all done. He brought them around to us after dinner while we were at the bar and they were truly amazing.
I eventually met up with Jane, Max and Linda to play some cards. This time I taught them how to play “5,000” - the card game that I had learned in Seattle when I lived with Caleb; we’d played the game for hours on the weekends with some of his friends, while drinking (often mimosas). Here in Malawi, I drank Fanta (orange, passionfruit, or pineapple) instead of alcohol. They all caught on to the game really quickly and we played for hours before dinner. Linda started out kicking our asses, before taking a break to shower; we continued playing and by the time Linda rejoined us, Jane had FINALLY caught up to Linda’s score! We took a break for dinner before resuming the card game afterwards. By this point the luck was with Jane, who clobbered the three of us.
After dinner, Nyka and TK surprised Maite by presenting her with a cake they baked for her birthday! We had jokingly asked them about it on the first night and I was surprised that they’d been able to pull it off (there is no oven with the truck, so I didn’t think baking a cake would be possible). It was a great treat and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Maite.
Another Nomad Tours truck had arrived in the afternoon and they were gathered eating dinner next to us; they must have thought that we were an insane crowd, being so loud and obnoxious (by this point half of the group had been drinking all afternoon, but it was all in good fun). Everyone came to the bar after dinner to continue partying (this was during our card game, so we weren’t involved with the drinking too much.
Larry had been drinking quite a bit by this point; after dinner we left him at the truck, where he was repacking him bags (he’d bought quite a few souvenirs from a local shop in the morning). He briefly mentioned to Max that he wanted to go swimming, but since it was dark at this point, we thought he was just talking. About an hour later, as we were playing cards, we realized that Larry wasn’t around. Being the only four people who were sober, we split up to go find Larry: Max and Linda searched the complex and tents, while Jane and I headed down to the beach. We were worried that perhaps he actually had gone swimming! The two groups met up where the tents met the beach, not having found Larry. Thankfully I spotted Larry a dozen meters or so ahead of us on the beach; he was laying down, using his backpack as a pillow. We woke him up and brought him back to the bar.
After playing a few more rounds of cards, we all decided to head to bed. Several people (Larry included) were scheduled to be up at 05:30 in the morning so they could go for a morning hike.
All told it was a good day! True to my vow after my rough night in Zanzibar, I’ve refrained from drinking since!
Tuesday, 4 October
I was up early this morning once again, waking around 05:00, primarily because the sun had already risen and I didn’t want to waste the day away. To my surprise, everyone who had signed up for the hike managed to make it up on time! I wished them a good day and then settled in to read more in “Atlas Shrugged” while sitting on a beach chair.
After breakfast I went to the bar area to get some work done before returning to my beach chair to read some more. There was a nice area under a large tree that we had gathered several of the beach chairs; Rafa, Joana and others were there relaxing and soaking up the sun as well.
Lunch today was truly amazing: steak and pasta salad. Nyka truly outdid himself today. The hiking group hadn’t returned by lunch, so those of us who stayed behind got to enjoy the meal fresh and hot (the hikers had their lunch when they got back, but it was cold by then). After lunch I spent the entire afternoon reading more. It was amazing and relaxing.
In the evening, Max, Jane, Linda and I gathered to play 5,000 once again. We started around 17:00 and played until dinner at 19:30; we resumed the game after dinner. Unlike last night, Max and I had rather better luck – especially Max. This time Max kept getting great hands of cards and he ended up reaching 5,000 points, clobbering the rest of us:
After finishing the game, we all decided to head in to bed so we could get up and head down to central Lake Malawi in the morning.
Wednesday, 5 October
We set off early this morning to our next campsite, further south on Lake Malawi. Our drive was around 350km, but we made a stop at a local supermarket to stock up on snacks and water. We were all surprised by how nice the supermarket was, I felt like I was in a Western store! I grabbed some Pringles and candy since I still had three bottles of water left in the truck.
After the shopping stop, a few of us (Max, Jane, Larry, Rafa and me) played Uno at the front of the truck. Today was the day for Max and me to sit at the front of the truck, so we gathered everyone up to join us. I played two rounds before having to bow out as I started to feel some motion sickness.
We reached the campsite around 13:00 and quickly setup our tents before having lunch (burgers!). The campsite was on the beach and we were all eager to get out to enjoy the sunshine and relaxation. During lunch we noticed several monkeys climbing around the trees nearby.
After lunch I settled into a chair under an umbrella to spend some time absorbed in my book. Max came and joined me; we spent a couple of hours in quiet relaxation reading. Later on, Max went and joined some others for a game of volleyball. I went and watched them play for a bit, but I didn’t feel like joining (despite their asking several times).
After dinner, Max, Jane, Linda and I gathered to play cards again; we settled on playing 5,000 once again. Linda became a natural at the game, constantly kicking our butts by going out early on in each round. We were constantly asking her if she was going out!