Malawi: Nkhata Bay, Reggae & A Life President

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The road to Nkhata Bay brought us through Mzuzu, a large town with a South African supermarket. What wonders that store held! Not only was I able to purchase conditioner after going without for the last month, but there were even hot, fresh sausage rolls. As we devoured our treats outside the store, pastry flying everywhere and sticking to our faces, a man came to us and asked, “Is this a Christmas party?” A confusing conversation ensued and it turns out that the only reason you would be standing while eating/eating at 10:30am would be because you were at a Christmas party. I’m still a little confused!

At Nkhata Bay we did something we’ve never really done before. We checked into a resort and pretty much just stayed there all week. The place brought in some interesting acts to entertain the guests, including some Tanzanian acrobats who dropped as much as they caught. During their breaks drunken patrons danced around the stage. The biggest round of applause was for one of the barmen dirty dancing with an old man who was so drunk that he’d wet himself.

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Our little hut

There was also a reggae singer from Zambia who performed his own songs which included lyrics such as:

“How big is the lake? The lake is so big.”
“My sister is a virgin. She doesn’t like to be called a prostitute.”

When we tried to barter with him for a copy of his CD, he offered me a discount in exchange for a head torch. In the end I just paid the asking price. We’ve since found his most catchy song on YouTube:

We’ve been shopping for local fabrics to take home and come up with quite an array. A Hastings Banda fabric promoted us to do a little research on him. The ‘life president’ had some interesting rules, such as requiring businesses to display his picture as the highest thing on the wall. When arriving at an airport he had to be met by dancing women wearing certain clothing. And most amusingly, he did not abide men with long hair. Even foreign men would be given a mandatory haircut on arrival at the airport.

“I wish that all the crazy African dictators were still alive and they put them in a season of Big Brother,” said Leckie after a few drinks one night. Wouldn’t that be amusing.

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Some of our brightly coloured purchases

The resort was right on the lake, so we were able to step out and swim in the clear waters whenever we liked. There are such an array of fish there, including what looked like pet goldfish. It was like swimming in an aquarium, a very big aquarium, with Malawian people rowing around and greeting you. There were no shortage of other animals to gawk at either.

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Nkhata Bay is beautiful, but so noisy. Among sounds that echoed across the bay was a nightclub that seemed to start at 5am and a mosque that for no apparent reason (it was not Eid) decided to chant through a loud speaker one night from dusk until dawn.

Unfortunately our week there didn’t end well. A group of 30 or so British school students turned up and proceeded to act like… well, teenagers. There was also the unpleasantness of a guest who had forgotten to move on, smoked himself retarded, introduced himself to us every day and got super paranoid about everything you said. Then there was seeing the owner’s kid take a dump on the beach right beside our hut. Though the nanny did pull out a plastic bag and scoop it up as you would when walking the dog.

In the end we were very ready to leave. As we exited the complex, entered the town and had to dodge a man with a cow’s head in a wheelbarrow, we immediately felt better and ready to take on our next stop.

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