After almost two weeks in my dusty little fieldsite alone, Joachim made the long trip up to join me. In a private vehicle, it’s about a 7 hour drive without stopping. But, since the car was with me, he was stuck with the bus or hitchhiking. The buses are generally pretty good here, but only run fairly infrequently and never when expected. Since Joachim cannot stand to wait (no patience, that one), he decided to try hitchhiking. He got his first ride from near our house, but they only took him about 12kms down the road, and he spent two hours waiting there, trying to avoid the snotty children. Then he got a ride 40kms further, walked a bit, and finally got a ride to the capital Lilongwe in a nice, air-conditioned car. From there, he took one of the last buses north of the day. After asking the guy next to him to tell him when they had reached Nkhamenya (I’d warned him that he’d never know it if he passed through), the friendly guy, also going to Nkhamenya, flopped down in J’s lap for the duration of the journey. Apparently he was quite drunk, and kept asking Joachim if he “trusted him” and telling him not to worry, that he’d be real safe. Freaked the poor guy out.
So, he arrived in Nkhamenya 14 hours after leaving home, tired and a little stressed. Luckily for him, we only stayed one more night in Nkamenya, and the next day hit the road for Nkhata Bay. After some truly frustrating experiences in the banks of Mzuzu (that’s another story, but I will just say that by the end of the day, I had lodged a formal complaint with the bank manager) we arrived at the most amazing lakeside town.
While we’d only planned to stay 3 nights, we ended up staying 5. I worked a little, but mostly relaxed from my two weeks of intense work. Joachim spent most of the day working, but we went swimming at least twice a day, and got plenty of sun.
We stayed at a place called Mayoka Village, which is spectacular, but tends to cater to the backpacker crowd, and has a reputation for being a party place. Luckily for us, we were there during the biggest music festival in Malawi, so all the party people were at the festival, and the lodge was really peaceful and quite.
Our cottage was right on the lake, and beautifully done. We had two sun decks, and steep staircase up into a fully stone bathroom.
I didn’t fully get the origins of the lodge, which has been there for over 10 years, but it seems to be a collaboration between a South African couple and a group of individuals from a local village (there are apparently 50 joint owners). Both Joachim and I were struck by how genuinely welcoming the staff were and how good everyone was at their work.
So, even though Joachim was still working long hours, we had an amazing 5 days of good food and relaxation. We are now home, in Zomba, back in the swing of things.