Day 49 – Mzuzu Market and Route Decisions

I had decided to give myself another rest day today wanting to take full advantage of the overpriced $75 visa fee I had shelled out for ($85 if you count the border scam I encountered), and also to enjoy the wonderful Joy’s Place which I was beginning to love.

Mzuzu Market

At some point during the day I ventured out to explore Mzuzu, which much like I was expecting was a bit rubbish, but I did go to the famous Mzuzu market which was entertaining for a while and I enjoyed weaving in amongst the hundreds of different vendors packed tightly together creating something that resembled a rabbit warren but much bigger and for humans.  It was so confusing in there that no vendor was ever to be re-found once you had passed them by, and during my wanderings I was accosted a few times by chatty locals and stopped for a conversation or two before resurfacing sometime later.  When I finally did find my way out I decided that I would take a last stop at the supermarket before returning back to the sanctity of Joy’s Place.

Shopright

The marvellous Shopright was incredible, it was almost as good as home and held innumerable treats that weren’t to be found anywhere else on my trip so far, I was in heaven!  I didn’t even buy that much stuff as my pannier space is always limited but just being in there was amazing!  I walked around aimlessly for a while enjoying looking at the variety of items on sale and reminiscing about a life I once had, ahhhhhh wonderful!  I did leave eventually but very reluctantly also as I knew the chances of finding a place like this again was slim!

Putrid Clothes

Back at the hostel I managed to get some clothes washed which to say was “much needed” would have been an understatement, “rotting” perhaps was more apt but we won’t think about that.  I had considered throwing the lot away and buying a whole new wardrobe of course but I finally decided to attempt a salvage operation and the results were reasonable enough.

I spent the rest of the day with the guests gingerly tiptoeing my way around conversational topics and during which I got talking to a German guy who had been overseeing the final parts of the construction of the road from Mzuzu to Nkhata Bay.  He was proud of his companies achievement, as well he should be, and was trying his best to convince me to ride down it as it was the best road in all of Malawi as he put it!

Route Planning

Now, I must explain that until this point I was actually going to make a slight route change switching from the lakeside road starting at Nkhata Bay and continuing down the coast to Lilongwe which had been, and was likely to continue to be very windy, to the alternative inland route from Mzuzu to the capital via the mountains which was professed to be much calmer and a better road.  As you know, the wind was really starting to get on my nerves by now and the thought of two more gruelling days cycling into the strong headwinds was less than appealing so I had almost made my mind up to take the alternative option.  That however would have posed another dilemma which would have been.

1. Pedal the 50km down to the lakeside to only then return along the same road in a few days time?

Or

2. Leave my bike with Joy and take a taxi down the hill enjoying a few days in the supposedly unmissable Nkhata Bay before returning via taxi and continuing on after that?

Nkhata Bay?

Of course I could just stop moaning and ride down to Nkhata Bay facing the hellish winds for only 300km more like a true cycling machine that I am and make it all a bit more convenient.  I had to be aware though that this option did hold a 99.9% likelihood of meeting a headwind that would inevitably

a) be in force and reduce my average speed to a demoralising pace and possible chance of an extra days riding.

And

b) become so annoying that I may instead decide to pedal myself directly into the water and drown, using the weight of the bike to keep me from attempting to resurface.

hmmmmm decisions decisions, I think though I will wait until tomorrow to make up my mind.

Tonight I went for the special Korean noodles that were AMAZING and I’ve now decided that at some point in the near future I would have to return to Korea because the food out there is simply delicious!  Thanks Joy for reminding me.

Before bed I went to bring the bike inside for the night and discovered my first puncture!!!  My rear wheel was soft, not totally flat but enough for me to question if I had a problem, and once I had stripped it down I saw that I was right.  I was quite excited to try my glue less patches though that were meant to be really good and much more convenient when you are on the side of the road but after 5 failed attempts I realised they are total shit and I did a conventional repair that sorted the problem first time.

Bed followed shortly after and I think I had made my decision on the next phase of my journey.

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