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L is for Likoma

L is for Likoma
This entry is part 12 of 27 in the series A to Z

Likoma Island in Lake Malawi off the coast of Mozambique is nothing special. Except when it is.

I can hardly describe it better than what I wrote on the About page over at (the WordPress design shop I work for).

Likoma Island /lee-koh-ma/ is a small island in Lake Malawi in East Africa, not too far off the coast of Mozambique.

No running water, no electricity, no mosquitoes, no malaria. Take the boat on Tuesday nights.

That about covered the advertising campaign for the island–scribbled on a slip of paper thumb-tacked to a guesthouse message board in Nkhata Bay. It was Monday, we left the next night. My then-girlfriend-now-wife spent either ten days or ten years on the island, it’s difficult to measure. It’s where our lives together began.

Somehow, it’s where I’m from. Maybe it’s just where I belong.

If doctors someday find a way to pull from your DNA who you really are, they’ll see that this is who I am.

The dust-on-the-tongue, back-of-a-pickup-truck, can’t-call-me-lost-because-I-don’t-have-a-destination, buy-your-lunch-out-of-the-basket-on-the-woman’s-head kind of guy. That’s what the doctors will find. They’ll probably revoke my passport and hand me a one-way ticket to some third-world country. Maybe a bus ticket–or a voucher for the back of a long-bed truck (as if they accepted vouchers … ). I’ll take it.

Is that who I am or who I was? Are you who you were or who you are? When does it switch? Or does it? Are you a blended cocktail of you then and you now? How much do we change?

I suppose you’d want to be that recipe that took the good from then and the good from now and turned on the Vitamix: blended you of the present. What about the future? Can you shape who you will become? I think you can, to some degree. It’s a choice, it’s your choice. It’s up to no one but you.

I don’t want to lose the Likoma in me. It’s an important part of my being. I want to be the guy who appreciates where he is when he’s there, savors the flavor of sweet mango, and crumbles when his little boy reaches for his hand. What does that mean? What do I have to do? Where’s the manual?

Priorities. Perspective. Perseverance.

Those three words keep me who I am. It’s my choice based on my priorities. It’s “good” or “bad” based on where I’m standing. I can make anything happen if I keep at it.

It’s up to me. It’s up to you. Are we up for it?

Likoma Island

Snakes under the bed, no running water, no change of clothes? Two one-way tickets, please.

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  1. Cindy Dwyer

    Sounds like a beautiful place. I could do without the electricity for a while. The no running water would bother me. The snakes under the bed would be a deal breaker. But there is something appealing about the peace and tranquility (aside from the moments where I’d be screaming over the snake).

    • Bradley

      Thanks for the note, Cindy. There was only one little snake under the bed one time … but that was enough for me. We asked the local if it was poisonous so, if you can imagine, the three of us were all on our bed looking at this little snake under the bed. He said it wasn’t poisonous and shoo-ed it away.

      The snakes weren’t as scary as the … Larium hallucinations. Wow.

  2. Robyn

    Well, you had me really wanting to test out the beauty and tranquility of Likoma … until that whole snakes under the bed thing. And then ya lost me! I’d like to try the rest out for a week, though – thanks for sharing this place with us!

    • Bradley

      I think it’s really interesting what makes a place special to people. This place was special because it was where my wife and I realized it was going to be forever. But other than that, it’s just a little dusty island in the middle of a huge lake.

  3. Silvia Writes

    Wow, sounds so beautiful. I’d love to visit but it’s not likely. Not soon, anyway. Thanks for the tour … loved reading your post.

    Silvia @ Silvia Writes

    • Bradley

      I wonder when I’ll ever go back? Maybe with my kids sometime. I wonder how they would feel about staying in some of the dives we stayed!

  4. Jan Rider Newman

    Hi, Bradley. I enjoyed your post. You asked some thoughtful questions, and I also think we can shape who we will become.

    • Bradley

      I think we can, but we have to be conscious about it, we have to think we can and then give it our best.

      Thank you for stopping by, Jan!

  5. Rhonda

    Sounds like an interesting place, and it does sound like your home.

    Visiting from AtoZ #41

  6. sherilee

    Great post, really enjoyed picturing Likoma. And I loved the line about not wanting to lose the Likoma in you… I get that.

    Thanks for coming by my blog–I’m off to check out more of your A-Z.


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