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Published: September 13th 2010
The flight from Lusaka to Lilongwe in Malawi was only a short one and I was due to be met by someone from the volunteer project. The airport is small but people everywhere pushing and shoving to get their luggage and get out. After waiting for about 2 hours I realized that no one was going to show so jumped into a taxi and asked to be taken to a backpackers (I think there is only a choice of two), it was OK the sheets were clean and there was hot water, but it was rundown and I did;'t really like the vibe, the staff were not particularly friendly or helpful (so unlike Malawi).
I spent 3 days there emailing the project with no response (I eventually got a response 5 days later, but I had already left the area), so decided to make alternative plans. As I was due to travel north to Tanzania, I decided to get to Lake Malawi and head north up along the shore.
Up to this point I would not really call myself a "backpacker", yes I am traveling with a backpack, but it had not actually been on my back, I had only lifted
it from one mode of transport to another with the majority of my trip mapped out. My definition of a "backpacker" is someone that has no plans and just goes wherever life leads them with their backpack on their back, so now I was a true backpacker.
I took a bus to Nkhata Bay, I had been to the southern shores of Lake Malawi at a previous time so decide to skip that area this time. I had to be at the bus station early and surprisingly found my bus quite easily, the bus stations in Africa are always a challenge, and I got a seat right at the back next to the window. An extra row of seats had been added along the length of the bus so there was about 60 people sitting and another 20 or 30 standing at any one time plus everyone luggage and the odd animal or two. In Africa no one understands the concept of queuing or personal space, it takes a little getting use to.
The journey took about 8 hours and was not to bad, although I couldn't read or anything as it was so bumpy, I snoozed a lot or
Lake Malawi, it like swimming in a warm bath
just looked out of the window at African life, there was a thousand missed photo opportunities. Every time the bus stopped, it was surrounded by people selling food, mats, baskets etc., i tried a couple of things to eat but didn't drink much as even if I could have got off the bus passed everyone to go to the loo, there was none, and I didn't fancy seeing the bus drive away while I was still squatting behind a bush.
There are 3 places to stay in Nkhata Bay, one is in the center of the town and the other 2 just outside about a 20min walk over a hill which I didn't really fancy doing, but when I go off the bus a guide from one of the 2 offered to give me a life there, so decision was made, it is called Myoka Village.
Myoka is a very cool place, built on the side of a cliff overlooking the lake, there are huts and dorms built on terraces, and a large bar and restaurant. Lots of travelers stay, and I met some very interesting and fun people, its extraordinary the lives some people lead and the stories they can tell. Its also a very small world, on my 4th evening, I got talking to a Kiwi guy called Stu who is in Malawi for 5 weeks working up near the border with Tanzania, he had come to Myoka just for one night, it turns out that he is a very good friend of Katie and Joel, amazing.
Nkhata Bay is a small working town with really only one main street which runs alone the bar, the buildings are low squat buildings with small stores offering everything from material to bicycle repair, on the street people sell fish, rice, veg etc, it is very colorful, noisy and bustling. at night there are some very dubious bars and music goes on till the morning.
The next day I was due to travel to a place called the Mushroom Farm and as Stu has to drive past it to go back to work, he offered to give me a lift.
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