I glanced at Adrian. It was too dark to discern my companion's expression, though surprised might have covered it.
"Is the French coming?" asked Ingrit.
"He's tired. We've worn him out today," replied Kimberley.
"Ah, the French," said Ingrit. "You'll see him later. He likes to be a little bit, well, adventurous."
Waves of cooling air wafted across the water from Cape Maclear, a mile or two away on Lake Malawi's shore, to Domwe Island.
Feeling middle aged and married with children, I left Adrian and the sirens waiting for "the French", and by torchlight climbed from the lake shore to the thatched dining area, carefully noting another beer on my honesty tab.
Along a further steep and rocky path lay the camp kitchen where a fire crackled vigorously outside, throwing up showers of sparks.
Austin, a strong and wiry youth who had helped unload my bags from the boat earlier in the day, tended the flames, while inside the cook, Francis, was already busy about his kitchen. "I will welcome you with fish," he said. "Hey, we're on an island after all." Before we could discuss dessert Austin poked his head inside. "You want to see pig? Come. This way, quietly."
There they were. Two substantial, tusked bush pigs snuffled speculatively among the undergrowth around the back of the cookhouse. "Years ago we composted the scraps and they'd come for this. Now we take everything off the island but still they come," said Austin.
Below I could hear giggling – "the French" had arrived in the form of Jean Baptiste, JB for short. He tells me he and the girls met in Johannesburg and travelled together to the Lake of Stars Festival.
The name Lake of Stars was coined by Scottish missionary and explorer Dr David Livingstone when he saw lantern-carrying fishermen sailing each night on the water. Indeed, Cape Maclear itself was named by Livingstone to honour his friend, the astronomer Thomas Maclear. It's unlikely that either could have envisaged the phrase being co-opted by 21st-century festival-goers.
I wanted to dislike "the French", envious of his youth and good looks, but it wasn't possible – he was a charming young man. "We kayaked across from Cape Maclear today. We're camping just with mosquito nets," he said.
I thought of my comfortable walk-in tent with proper bed, sheets and pillows. Later, though only a little, sleep came easily – the drive from Lilongwe having taken most of the day.
At some unfamiliar hour the raucous banter of the lake's nocturnal fishermen, working hard to put food on the table for their families, had me reaching for an imaginary AK47, but before firing a few shots across the bows of their canoes I was once more lost to my bed's seductive flatness.
Domwe's morning intruded politely into my tent, as a good-humoured tinkling of utensils drifted down from Francis's kitchen, mixing with the faint odour of woodsmoke and paraffin. Bacon, eggs, fresh bread rolls and Malawian Mzuzu coffee – "improves athletic performance", according to the label – arrived for breakfast. Soon we were joined by the international menage – in the light Kimberly seemed older, Ingrit plumper. "The French" was just the same.