Vail travel: Beach casts Mozambique in a new light
Vail Daily Travel Correspondent
After investigating a bit, there are buses going “regularly” to Inhambane, so I get to the bus depot around 8 a.m. and find a bus going my way.
I check in, put my luggage on the little bus, pay and then I sit there for a while. After politely asking when the bus will be leaving, I am told “when it’s full.” We reach that graceful state after 2 1/2 hours and at 10:30 we head out.
The first 150 miles are no problem, the road is fine and we make it in about three hours – not too bad. However, after Xia-Xia, matters change. The road now rivals the ones I experienced in Sumatra last year and they were bad, believe me.
We are swerving over the highway like a drunken sailor trying to evade the potholes and we are partially successful, but only partially. There is a great variety here because now the potholes give way to, in my opinion, Sahara sand and all of the sudden it is a rather a different ride – a scary ride.
I am already thinking about the next 1,500 miles to Tanzania, but then the road changes back to “normal” conditions again after about 40 miles. In the end it takes us eight hours to drive the 300 miles.
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After checking into my hotel, I have a nice conversation with the owner, Dennis. He recommends, let me rephrase that – he insists – that I go and stay at Tofo on the beach 10 miles down the road to enjoy the views and life there. I am taking his word while virtually constantly being eaten alive by the Mozambique mosquitoes, a brand in and of itself. Thank Buddha for mosquito nets, which the hotel provides. I have taken my malaria pills, but those damn pesky insects are having a field day with my blood.
How matters can change in 24 hours. If you recall, my first impressions of Mozambique aren’t what one would call positive, but that changes with my arrival in Tofo. What an incredible place, what beauty. It’s quite windy, but with temperatures hovering around the 100-degree mark, a bit of wind is refreshing.
There are supposed to be over 2 million palm trees in this region and driving here this morning is a delight. What is also encouraging is that I have talked to more people in these last three days than I have for the two months in the Philippines combined. There are some Aussies and some Dutch people, a Bahrainian guy and even a couple of American women. I am having a ball.
My “pension” is a nice bungalow on the beach and I buy some “Vache Qui Rit” cheese with local bread and have a great lunch overlooking the surf. Life just doesn’t get any better than this.
Some of the things that stand out here so far, as well as in the other parts of Africa I’ve been in, are the traffic: red lights seem to have been made for decoration only. Secondly there are no mopeds or scooters here or virtually none. Up till now I count about half a dozen in the last three weeks.
Lastly, the local people here actually have bathing suits and wear them, as opposed to Asia, where jeans and T-shirts seem to be the preferred way of bathing in the ocean. Interesting and that is why I travel – to see and discover all those differences in the various cultures.
Even though I have never been in a place where the wind blows so hard, so steadily, I spend three days in absolute bliss. Then it is time to head further north again.
From Inhambane I take the ferry across to Maxixe, followed by a four-hour bus ride to Vilankulo. Here I go on a group excursion, about a dozen or so of us, to the Bazaruta National Park, a couple of islands just off the coast. Maybe the best way to explain this absolutely beautiful area is by stating that when your tracks are the only ones on the beach, you feel like Robinson Crusoe. Out of this world.
Moving further north I am trying to reach Nampula, but that ride is thwarted by the non-availability of a bus. After waiting 2 1/2 hours along the dusty and hot roadside, at last a bus shows up and I make it to Beira. Realizing that I don’t have a visa for Tanzania as yet, I am spending two days here, trying to get those forms sorted out and then once again try to head up to the famous Ilha Mozambique, a UNESCO site and one of the premier attractions in this country. We’ll see how far I’m get this time.