Chimoio

Trip Start Jun 28, 2007
1
7
15
Trip End Aug 07, 2007


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Flag of Mozambique  ,
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

04 July

In the morning, Helmut called the director of his client firm, who is also a good friend of his, on his mobile phone.  He chatted with this man for about ten minutes before the man revealed that he was currently sitting in jail as they were speaking!  The man had accidentally killed someone by hitting him with his car, and he had been in jail for the past two days while awaiting a resolution to the case.  As he hoped to get out of jail tomorrow, he declined Helmut's offer of assistance.  Given the huge number of people who walk along the roads in Africa - seemingly with little consideration for their own safety, it is no wonder that such accidents are fairly common.  I suppose the case will be settled by the man paying a fairly small sum of money to the family of the deceased.

Helmut and I said goodbye to the maid and the neighbors and departed on our road trip to Lusaka, Zambia through Zimbabwe at about 10 a.m.  On the way to Chimoio, Mozambique, where we were to spend our first night, we encountered, in addition to the usual array of people along the road, a goat drinking water out of a pothole in the middle of the road.  Mind you, this was not just some back-road dirt track.  This was National Road Number 1 of Mozambique - the main north-south highway through the country.

We arrived at the Zambezi River just as the ferry was pulling away.  Rather than sitting in the car, we got out and watched the goings-on while waiting for the ferry to return.  There was a group of people gathered around watching a local huckster trying to cheat money out of passing truck drivers in a game of Three Card Monty.  The ploy was rendered obvious (at least to me) by the fact that the ringer, a local boy, was putting up a large sum of money as a way of enticing other punters to put up their cash.  It was a clear case of "What is wrong with this picture?", because it was extremely unrealistic that a small boy in that part of Africa would have the means to gamble at all - much less with such sums of money.  Anyway, luckily, it seemed that there were no suckers around to fall for the trick.  Sometimes it pays to be poor!

When the ferry returned, I had to step out of the truck and board the ferry on foot as they only allow one person to be in the vehicle on the ferry at one time.  Foot passengers like myself paid 1 meticais (2 cents) to cross the river, while vehicle drivers were required to pay 100 times that amount.

We arrived in Chimoio at 16:00 and Helmut checked into the nicest hotel in town, which was a very nice but overpriced place (US$55 a night) that was too expensive for me.  Helmut then drove me around looking at the other accommodation options, most of which were wildly overpriced for what they were.  In the end I settled for the Pink Papaya, a fairly new backpacker's hostel run by Helen, a white Zimbabwean woman.  A single room there went for US$20 per night, and it represented just the right combination of price, quality and safety for me.  Afterwards we went to a supermarket (Shoprite - part of a South African chain), where I bought provisions (i.e. bread, peanut butter, crackers and cheese) for the rest of the drive.  We then had a nice, filling dinner at a German restaurant that Helmut knew in Chimoio.  There used to be a fantastic Italian pizza joint in town according to several sources, but it had just closed for renovations.  Too bad, because I was starving.
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