Blantyre to Vilanculos via Chimoio

Trip Start Apr 03, 2008
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Trip End Jun 25, 2008


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Flag of Mozambique  ,
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hoofing it across the Malawi border to the heart of Mozambique is no easy feat.  Rather than heading east toward Mt Mulanje, I decided to head southwest solo to the border, grab a minibus and head to a town called Tete.  The trip itself took me about 5 hours from Blantyre, and upon reaching Tete mid afternoon, I joined up with a busload of Zimbabweans heading toward their respective home country border.  Thus, it was back into another minivan to a town called Changara or something of the sort.  Exiting the van, I realized it was near dark and probably this was not the best of places to have decided to ride to.  As my van departed, along with my newfound Zimbabwean friends, I thought to myself that options were limited - stay the night in this one horse town or hitchhike as far as Chimoio, a city in the heart of Mozambique. 

Well, to me it was clear.  I had already been on the road for 10 hours, with no food and little water to speak of, and quitting for the day seemed a crazy concept.  Heading into a roadsid restaurant, I walked up to a table of Portugese speakers, and asked who owned the semi 18 wheeler out in the parking lot.  Identifying this driver, and indicating that I wanted a ride to Chimoio, the guy (whose name i still dont know as result of his lack of English and my incoherent sense of Portugese) showed me he wanted the equivalent of 8 bucks for the road.  Sounds good to me, I thought, and hopped into the cab with he and 3 buddies.

This is where the crazy stuff started happening.  Really, you could not dream this stuff up if you had to... So i look at the front of the cab, and realize this driver is drinking beer.  I think to myself, could he really be consuming alcohol right now.  As the answer to that question came to my head as a resounding yes, the cops pull us over at one of the thousands of roadblocks in this country.  As the cops climbed the cab, it became clear they were more interested in me, than in the driver boozing it on the pot-holed roads here.  Asked for money, coke money, drink money, etc, I forked over a buck to the cops and they passed us thru the block.  Seemed this was cause for celebration, as the driver popped another beer (along with buddies drinking) with his teeth and took a big swig.

So now I am thinking wow, this place is a trip.  Just when I thought this was such a surreal experience, out comes the equivalent of  Malawi Gold, aka Mozambique Gold, aka marijuana.  As the buddy in the shotgun seat up front rolled a big fattie, I wondered just how safe this would be.  It didnt seem out of the ordinary for them, what they were doing, where as I was thinking what the ????? As the kilometers drifted past, and my newfound ride struggled across the potholes governing this roadway, it gave little comfort knowing we were only doing about 40km per hour.  I wondered if i should jump this ride, and get another, but figured this was probably the standard here and thus I was likely the safest in a big semi cab.  Hilarious, scary, amazing, and just completely surreal - but 4 hours later, and two pitstops for more beer along the way, I was dumped off in Chimoio where I remained 3 hours sleeping before catching another ride to Vilanculos on the coast.

Vilanculos was a much needed destination after this hellacious 24 hour transit from Malawi.  Ripped off by the minivan from Chimoio to Vilanculos, I was not happy upon arrival but soon became so as I looked at the coast and realized my decision to hightail it here was a good one.  My place, Zombie Cucumber, was right on this incredibly gorgeous coastline, with clear water and white sands.  Wow.  I decided then and there that I had to chill for several days here before heading southward towards Maputo.  I also surmised that this would be a great diving spot, and thus signed up for a couple dives at a nearby diving center (Odyssey Dive Center) owned by two French folks.  The dives were good, scenery incredible, accomodations great, and it will be tough leaving here in the next day or two.  Tough life I lead, I know....
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