Day 78 – 81

After a scrummy brekkie of egg and bacon (bacon … we hadn’t seen bacon in a while) we headed out to start the day’s cycling in the direction of Makuzi Beach, 60 odd k’s away.

We’d been looking forward to Makuzi since we entered Malawi so you can imagine our shock and horror when we arrived, wet and sweaty, after a hard day’s ride to find that the place was full. But in real Makuzi tradition they made a plan for us and we could squeeze our tent into a corner of the campsite for the night. Thank you to owner Brett, we could secure another night at this idyllic paradise along the lake.

I must say that all the owners and managers of the lodges and accommodation establishments along the lake have been very friendly and helpful. There was Theo and his wife at Chembe who were so concerned when we were late in returning from the clinic the evening I got sick. Then there was Mike and his wife from Fish Eagle Bay who chatted up a storm with us. As ex-South Africans I think they welcomed any news from home and the SA accent fell nicely on their ears. Manager Trish at Ngala Bay allowed us to check in at 9:30 in the morning when check-in time is really only at 2pm … especially for a room. Oh I forget the friendly staff of the Blue Waters Hotel in Senga Bay that came to swap our bar fridge, the two ladies man-handling the thing out of there, when it was found to be out of order. But of course, Makuzi, Brett what can I say about your place other than paradise … and the staff … Bless, you are a real blessing. What an amazing place; absolutely stunning location, excellent food, hot showers … what more can one want?

I had vowed to swim in the lake at Makuzi, and that is exactly what I did … In fact, mom and Suzann joined me. The lake was like bath water and you could walk out quite a distance in the shallows, over the ripples of sand the constant lap-lapping movement of the lake’s little waves made. Dunking oneself in the water hardly helps to cool you down, the water is so warm, but its not about cooling but rather about a little fun for a change …

We took a real break at Makuzi, dining out both evenings we were there. The dining experience there is just so great … you just have to eat there. The tables are set outside on the decks, under the stars, with the moon rising an orange ball over the lake, casting a golden rippled line of light out over the dark waters. And as the moon rises the orange glow is replaced by its clear white light, bright as it was almost full, out over the white beach sand. You can hear the lake as the waves lap the shore, and the comforting chatter of your fellow diners with the occasional clink of glasses and clash of cutlery. You can sit in total relaxation and chat over the flickering candle flame in the center of the table, watching it cast dancing shadows on the other people’s faces. And you feel the soft warm breeze on your own face. Bliss …

But bliss doesn’t last forever and we had to move on in the direction of Nkata Bay and the next big city, Mzuzu. There’s no really good camping places in Nkata Bay so we decided to head straight on to Mzuzu. Anyway, our supplies were running low. There was no more milk, no cheese, no jam, no bread, little water, no cooldrink, no butter, no this, no that …

The humidity was just something fierce and we hardly made the 50km to the turnoff to Nkata Bay. From there the road turned sharply inland, away from the lake, and with that it began to climb and climb and climb … Like two drenched rats, Suzann and I gratefully loaded up and took a ride in the cool interior of the vehicle. We were undone …

Once in Mzuzu, we found Macondo Camp quite easily and booked in for the night even though it was still very early. Thank goodness we’d had the chance to clean the tent from all the sand that had literally got in everywhere when we left Fish Eagle Bay in a sandstorm a few days ago. Now we could just put up the tent and go for a shower in the electric showers. Now electric and shower are not exactly two words that should be combined in my mind, but that’s just what they were. You had to turn on the water before stepping back out of the shower (now wet) to go and switch on the electric part of the shower that would supposedly heat the water as it ran through this contraption attached to the shower head. The slower the water runs the warmer it should be, but I had the thing so low it was practically dribbling one single stream at me and still it remained cold. Consequently, both Suzann and I had a lukewarm shower, at best. At least we could wash the layers of sweat that had poured from us like torrents, away.

The rest of the day was dedicated to shopping and we made good use of our time. With supplies filled up again we’d go to bed early since we were planning an early start to the next day’s ride back down to lake level. Oh, and just as we were heading out for our shop we were flagged down by another vehicle. After stopping us Bishop Samuel came over to chat about the whole Cycle for Bibles idea. He pastors a church in Mzuzu that has a children’s shelter attached to it and he would’ve loved to have us visit the kids. But we were only in town that one day. Maybe that was good for our nerves since he said that if it were Sunday, he’d have given us his congregation … preaching a sermon … well now that would’ve been interesting … Anyway, he gave us his details so we can stay in contact, there’s always a next time …

Imagine our surprise to wake up to the unmistakable patter of rain on our canvas tent. It started as a mere drizzle but soon it was raining buckets. The showers came fitfully. I guess we could be glad about that … the rain wasn’t set in. We could try our best to pack up as dry as possible. But then … oh dear … we noticed that the tent was leaking and had wet the entire one side of mom’s bed, including her sleeping bag. Hastily checking mine, I noticed the same. I was wet too. Just Suzann, who sleeps in the middle was still dry. Now we had to stuff wet sleeping bags and roll wet air mattresses, and not only a very wet tent.

Suzann and I dressed in cycling gear, hoping the rain would let up on the way north but to no avail. At least the cycle gear gets dry very quickly, so our morning drenching wouldn’t leave us with wet clothes for the rest of the day.

The rain kept coming but did drop into a spit and a spot as we approached the edge of the plateau. Dropping down to the lake once again, it was only overcast but with no rain, there was however, wind … Suzann asked if I’d like to try a stint on the bike but I declined since the pass down to the lake has deteriorated a good deal since last we passed through, with huge potholes and the edge of the tar moth-eaten making it difficult to negotiate the tight turns. Once at lake level the south wind was on us again and so we just called it and drove to Chitimba Camp instead.

Thank goodness the camp had a high hedge behind which we could shelter from the prevailing wind. We managed to get the sodden tent up again and then it was the process of opening the wet sleeping bags and draping them over chairs to try to dry them. Most wet things got dry quite quickly though and soon we had our little house all sorted out again. Now it was just for something to eat … We’d had to leave camp without breakfast again. First it was the wind storm that sandblasted us out of Fish Eagle Bay without food. Now it was the first of the rainy season that drenched our spirits and stole our brekkie …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *