Still not in Australia

Trip Start Oct 19, 2005
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Flag of Mozambique  ,
Sunday, April 9, 2006

Viva Mozambique

So still not in Australia...

Armed with a couple of phrases in Portuguese from Marcel, I arrive in Mozambique. Crossing the border from Malawi there is about 5 kms of no-mans land between the borders which is an uphill struggle (synonymous with African borders)... so thankful for the bus. At the Malawian border, our passports were checked 3 - 4 times just to make sure they had been stamped and then at Mozambique another 3 times. Crossing the border, I am stalked by Amanda and Marcel who are in another bus heading for Jo'burg...so we keep saying goodbye. The border posts are hives of activity with enterprising kids trying to exchange 2 rand for kwacha..the rate of inflation was amazing! A lot of people were offering Zim dollars for absolutely any currency ("Why, would you?") Others trying to flog carvings, sugar cane to suck, green oranges, boiled eggs, water etc.

At Tete the bus driver drops me at the junction with the airport so armed with all my luggage I trudge down towards the hut that consistutes as an airport, being hassled by kids asking for money - I quickly learn what I have no money is in Portuguese. I have been unable to buy a plane ticket for an internal Mozambiquean flight in Malawi, so my best bet to get to Maputo is to turn up in Tete and hope to be able to get on a plane/ buy one there. At the airport a man, Jose, helps me out and we are informed that the flight is full. He unfortunately is on that flight but leaves me in the 'trusty' hands of Gil, who turns out to be a complete sleaze ball - more of that later! I have to get to the LAM (Mozambique's airline) offices in Tete on Sunday morning at 7:30 to get a ticket. So Gil and his mate Richard bundle me and my bags into Gil's pick up saying they are taking me to find somewhere to stay, but first we have to drop off Richard at the neighbouring village. We arrive in said village and pull up outside a bottle store - "Its alright, we have a drink?" Asks Gil. "Sure, sure!" Several drinks later, we clamber back into the pick up and Gil's driving becomes really really erratic as he forgets to look at the road because he is too busy sleazing on me - Nice! True to his word he finds me a room in a local guest house, Piscina and leaves with promises from me of calling him later to go out. I would have loved to, but did not trust him so went to bed early. He refused to tell me where the LAM offices were saying he would be there at 7 am to take me. Sure, sure, 7 am no Gil, no answer on cell phone, so I head off into Tete, find the offices, buy a ticket all in metical - 3,500,000.00 about US$140. The staff at the office take me to the airport where they assume their positions for check in, baggage handling etc and totally ignore me even though I have just spent the last hour with them. No worries.. I board the plane and head to Maputo to meet Lindsay and her friend Kara who are getting a bus in from South Africa. I had met Lindsay in Cape Town at new year and she came to stay with me in Gabs on her way down to Jo'burg to meet Kara. We had tentatively made plans to meet in Mozambique and for once in Africa the plan was coming together.

The plane made one stop at Chimoio, where a guy came and sat down next to me. He proceeded to drink 4 miniature johnny walkers from about 11:30 to landing at 1 pm, at which point he turned his bleary bloodshot eyes to me and invites me to stay in a house he was renting in Xaixai, on the beach.."Yeah, sure, sure....I'll need to think about that one!" Through stale alcoholic fumes he relays his cell number and then again in baggage reclaim stresses I should come and visit him, even if its just for a coffee.

I am picked up by someone who works at Fatima's the oldest backpacker in Maputo and not particularly nice, but as its low season they give us a dorm room for the 3 of us. This is a room that consists of 4 bunk beds with about metre in between them, no air and torn mosquito nets. Lindsay and Kara get in about 6 pm. Kara is a fantastically cool, funny American chick, doing her masters in Germany and excellent company. We head out of town up the coast to Costa Do Sol a fish restaurant and have fantastic fresh fish and seafood. The coastal road is jammed with parked cars on either side, cooler boxes filled with beer and stereos pumping - obviously the place to be on a Sunday night in Maputo.

Monday we wonder around Maputo, looking at the art nouveau architecture and the railway station's dome that was designed by Gustav Eiffel, yes the same one to design that iron structure in Paris and also an iron house for the governor of Maputo, that surprisingly was never occupied. Iron not being particularly practical in hot climes.

Tuesday we get up with the rain and catch a bus to Inhambane with the ultimate destination being Tofo. We travelled / bumped through tropical countryside, with millions of coconut palms scattered amongst green fields interspersed by villages. The houses are made of woven coconut palm fronds held together by wooden horizontal batons. Allegedly very sturdy and water proof. On arriving at Inhambane we got a taxi to take us to Bamboozi, a backpackers that had been recommended to us..... err if you are ever in Tofo, don't bother going there. It was right on the beach, so once we dropped off our stuff in a hut we charged down to the beach and the warm azure waters of the Indian ocean. Unfortunately they weren't very azure, more murky brown but it was fab to be on the beach. The backpackers had some other guests who on waking up the next morning and finding it still raining headed out, except thankfully for Anna and Ben. Anna and Ben are sister and brother combo, who had come out to Cape Town for a family wedding and decided to come up to Mozambique before going back to London. They were fantastic company and the five of us had some brilliant laughs, stories and times. Ben is an oesthopath with healing hands and a lovely, kind guy. Anna is a cool bird, with a wicked sense of humour and has just spent the last 9 months travelling with a friend in Africa and South America. The five of us bonded and had such an amazing time together.

On Thursday the weather front disappeared and we were rewarded with sun, so I went in search of Matt and Tiff. Matt and Tiff were the lodge managers of Shindi a camp I had stayed in whilst in the Delta and they had told me they were going to be managing a bar in Tofo, after making inquiries on the Wednesday, I managed to track them down. Needing no further encouragement than seeing their place and meeting them, the five of us checked out of Bamboozi, where you had to wade through stagnant water to get to the bathroom, and moved to Turtle cove in Tofinho.

We all had our own huts with ensuite bathrooms for less than a dorm bed in Bamboozi and Matt and Tiff to entertain us, brilliant!

The rest of the week was spent as follows, all of it under beautiful blue skies, scorching sun and near/ or in warm clear water:
Saturday - getting Ben very drunk as it was his birthday, gorging on sushi, catching Ben as he fell off the bar in an attempt to dance on it and making up new cocktails/ shooters! Helping Lindsay change her flight so she could stay longer in Africa...becoming firm friends with the beach
Sunday - watching Ben turn green. Anna, Ben and I went on a boat to go snorkelling with whale sharks, after a few minutes Dolphins were spotted so we all jumped in. I, who can be found by a single jelly fish in a whole ocean, head butted a bluebottle - if you thought my scarring was bad you should have seen the bluebottle, which just floated away.... We then saw a whale shark, jumping back in it was worth being stung by a thousand blue bottles. They are amazing fish, huge yet graceful, prehistoric, unperturbed by the humans swimming alongside as it propelled its way through the water swishing its dorsal and tail fins..it really was another breathtaking moment. The sun speckling through the water catching the whale sharks spots shimmering...amazing!
Monday - took a surfing lesson and yes managed at one point, to only have my feet on the board for all of a 100th of a second before falling off, but loved it. Lindsay by this time had become a complete surf addict and trying her luck at the big boys beach, Tofinho, she met two Americans, Brian and Geoff, who in turn came and moved their tent to Turtle Cove...
Tuesday - We all woke up to watch the sun rise over the beach at Tofinho and then sadly said goodbye to Linds and Kara. I tried to dive - however I found out that hyperventilating whilst underwater is not particularly conducive to diving...who'd of thought?! I blame the Larim!! Seriously I will try again but I just couldn't get the hang of breathing and clearing my mask at the same time... Obviously wired differently as I can't multi-task...that breathing thing is difficult!
Wednesday - chilled out and went for long walks along deserted beaches and got back on a surf board. I then set myself the goal of not leaving before I had stood up on a surf board and stayed up. Hard decision to make considering I was staying in what was close to paradise! Ben too has become hooked on surfing and was riding the waves, we're not sure where in London he can go surfing...any suggestions other than the Thames barrier, would be gratefully received!
Thursday - I did it, I got up on a surf board and stayed up as the wave carried me into the shore and died... I was so completely stoked. My arms ached, I had bruises on my body, in places I had no idea you could get bruises, chafing again in weird places including my knees, leading to hilarious jokes about carpet burns!!

I am now planning the rest of my trip based solely on places to surf!!!!!

Friday - Geoff, Brian and I arouse at an ungodly hour to catch a shuttle to Inhambane and then a bus to Maputo. We spent the majority of the journey sleeping, eating, sharing food, being offered Cashew nuts...

I'm just having a moment and digressing - Those who know me well, know cashew nuts are my downfall.. I will gorge until sick and then gorge again! Mozambique is awash with cashew nuts, being roasted on the side of the road and sold in kilos, huge, fresh and so very very tasty.

...and babies. Brian and Geoff wake up to find me with a baby on my lap - "I'm a fast worker!" I had just been talking to a guy who wanted me to call him when I got to Botswana - "Yeah, sure, sure!!" and then I had a kid sitting on my lap who proceeds to pick his nose and flick his boggies on my lap - nice touch. The rest of the journey is spent entertaining a creche, demonstrating Frisbee (Brian and Geoff) and laughing as the ticket seller/ bus controller pours two bottles of water into the dashboard and the driver spends the majority of the journey texting on his cell phone!

We arrived in Maputo and managed to eventually shake a sour stressed European girl of doubtful descent (I think German, Brian and Geoff, Swedish). And head up to a backpackers along the coast out of town. We then go for something to eat and meet two locals, Paula and Faisal who are just walking along and they take us to a local restaurant where we have the most orgasmic calamari and muscles. We then hit the town and are taken to the red light district of Maputo, where Geoff and Brian are mobbed by scantily clad women with the fastest wandering hands I have ever seen. Meanwhile I am being entertained by a group of Mozambiquean men/ boys, whilst laughing at the boys predicament. We then get out of there and head to Coconuts, a night club where all the rich young things of Maputo hang out. Brian and I stay until 5:30 then head back to the backpackers, change, pack our stuff and head for the bus in a taxi, plus their surf boards.

They take off to Durban and I to Jo'burg, where I discover the only way in Africa to have any personal space /get a seat to yourself in the bus is to not have showered! I arrive in Jo'burg having slept the whole journey and meet up again with the wonderful and lovely Lindsay. Lindsay jets out 2 hours later to Costa Rica and I spend a sober night in Jo'burg...the temptation to go to an all-night festival of house, drum and bass lasted all of 5 minutes. Sleep had been hard to come by the past week for some reason, so I gratefully slept the sleep of the dead.

Sunday - I'm on the home straight on a bus back to Botswana, no more bawling babies, no more dodgy buses, to spend Easter there before heading up to Tanzania and Zanzibar to meet my wonderful and fantastic friend Meg Fairfull, who is flying over from the UK. I get cocky and send a SMS to Melissa in Gabs, saying I'm on my way and guess what - yup the bus broke down. We're about 1 hours out of Jo'burg so the bus company having a bright idea, sends a bus from Gabs (4 hours away) instead of hiring one from Jo'burg. Its now getting cold in Africa at night and I have no warm clothes let alone any inclination to be a sitting duck in South Africa, so I hitch. I and 3 others are picked up by a Motswana lady, Lesego who takes us to Gabs and I safely arrive at 9pm.

Thanks to all the emails, to Dave for keeping me updated on the London Sunday clubbing scene...you are filthy! and Georgie for her fabulous news, I now have a stipulated end date of these travels, which I will endeavour to meet.

WHITE WOMEN WANTED!

Tired of metrosexual men, Exhausted by men in touch with their feelings or feminine side, Frustrated by men who share the housework and/ or child rearing, Bored of men who treat you as an equal...Want a real man....Does this sound like you....then come to Africa.

Here you can meet a man who will expect you to raise his children, keep his house, work his fields, tend his family, whilst he goes off to drink Chibuku with his friends and chase other women...which of course you can't complain about or ask him where he's been as this is disrespectful. But its okay because he will give you... a beating and if you're really lucky HIV and in compensation your family will get 10 - 15 cows, which is the going rate for the lobola/ bride price.

If interested then please let me know as I'm thinking of setting up a catalogue of mail order white wives for African men.... Yes hugely stereotyping, but it is astounding how many guys in Africa spin the opening line of "I'm looking for a white woman!" "Any white woman, or one in particular?" transpires any white woman would do...makes you feel soooo very special!

Happy Easter and enjoy the long weekend...keep the emails coming!
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