In the morning we had to wait for the overland truck we'd hitched a ride with to get on its way. Only one of its passengers had to go into Mzuzu to get a visa squared away so it was mostly empty. Pretty luxurious way of traveling - nice reclining airplane style seats, huge open windows, and good shocks. So we got to sleep in, had reliable and comfortable transport, it took half the time public transport would have and it didn't cost us anything!
Got to Mzuzu before eleven. Ran around with our packs getting our errands done - changed money at the bank (55.1 Kwacha to the dollar), hit the pharmacy, and went to the supermarket (various sundries, yogurt, and ice cream!) We rather liked Mzuzu, but it was uncomfortable exploring with all our luggage - we're entertaining the idea of coming back without it, or having some time to explore it on our way out of Nkhata Bay.
We walked out of town to the bus station and immediately caught a van heading our way. The disadvantage was that the van was almost full so we got the worst seats, but that meant we didn't have to wait hours for it to fill up - plus it was only an hour drive so it wasn't too uncomfortable (they did manage to squeeze 27 people into the van though).
As we came down the hill into Nkhata Bay we could look out over the beautiful bay setting. Unlike Chitimba the lake actually looks like a lake here - or maybe Puget Sound - the dense green vegetation and oddly harmonious buildings run right to the water's rocky edge. After we ditched the hotel touts (difficult) we headed for the dive shop. We were hoping to arrange a dive for tomorrow but they're fully booked so hopefully Sunday. We asked the guy at the dive shop about accommodation and he recommended the same place Gisa (the owner of Chitimba Beach Camp) had. We'd been planning to hike to the next bay over, but with the heat, the uphill road, and our packs we decided to at least check out the place they'd recommended. By the time we'd hiked down the trail to the level of the lake I knew there was no way we were going to be staying anyplace else. It wasn't a problem as the place turned out to be fantastic - it's another budget type camp, but it's spread out over a very steep hill that's beautifully landscaped. At the bottom is a pretty little rocky cove on the lake, with the restaurant perched above it. From there little huts are scattered around the slope. Ours is about a hundred feet above the water - very basic, but also very clean, cute, cozy, and cheap. The bathrooms are communal, but the shower is open to the sky and has a fantastic view out over the lake - very nice (though a little disconcerting).
After checking in we sat down in the bar and had fruit smoothies (yum!) and went over some of our options for the remainder of our time in Malawi. I'd realized that since we weren't going to take the lake steamer (it just wouldn't be pleasant in the rough water) with the saved days it might be possible to make it into and across Zambia to Victoria Falls. We'll have to do some research to see if it's really possible. The other option is to go to the Vwaza National park game reserve and possible down to Lilongwe or out to some of the lake islands (again doubtful due to the rough water). So many options...
The rest of the afternoon was spent sunning and swimming. In the evening there was a barbecue. I misunderstood what time it was supposed to start so Amy and I were at the bar a couple hours early - so we had a few beers. We ran into Claire and Ian (from Mbeya and crossing into Malawi) so had beers, then dinner and beers, then beers again with them. Ended up being a pretty late night - but a nice welcome to Nkhata Bay.