We arrived at Nkata Bay around lunchtime, the most significant town so far. We needed to find a bank to change big dollars to pay for our passage. We soon discovered the one exchange bureau at Nkata Bay had closed. The alternative was to get a minibus to Mzuzu about an hour away and try there. "Try" because the banks would shut at 2pm and we would almost certainly miss them. We decided we would like the outing anyway, a chance to see "inland" Malawi and to buy a newspaper.
The countryside was fairly hilly and very verdant. There were lots of communities living along a good road. We stopped at various stages. At some point we bought "mandazis" (donuts) and bananas, through the window, and called it lunch. A pleasant ride. We arrived a couple of hours after the banks had shut; so no chance there. Someone told us about an FX bureau which we tracked down five minutes before closing and then discovered they could only change US$100 worth. Our next tactic was to go looking for "Indian shopkeepers" who apparently "would be willing" and stumbled across another bureau who sorted us out.
We bought some provisions for "picnic" lunches and walked back into the bus station. A minibus for Nkata Bay was looking to fill its last four places so we were away within minutes. After 20 minutes it got too dark to read the newspaper and I realised we had cut it quite fine. The minibus seemed to be non-stopping and raced up and down the hills, making it back to Nkata Bay in 50 minutes. Still a few hours to spare before Ilala was due to sail.
We finally cast off at about 8pm and set off directly across the lake. Away from the shore it became choppier and it felt like we were "at sea".