We finally feel like we're at a final sprint in our trip. There are two deadlines we have been shooting for: The beginning of October to be in Tanzania for Jake to do photos and video for a water conservation project. And the end of October to be in Ethiopia to do the same for some coffee farm "branding" (again, something I'll explain when we're near there). It's finally the beginning of October and we're in Malawi, which borders southern Tanzania. Not bad.
We rushed through Mozambique to get here in time because apparently we spent too long in South Africa, which by no means was a bad thing, but we weren't able to explore Mozambique too much since we spent about 7 or 8 days total there (and most of that felt like it was in a chapa!). And Mozambique (or Moçambique to the locals) is a large country. But here's what we got from it and why we want to come back for an extended stay:
I should start by saying our original plan was to go through Zimbabwe (or Botswana) and to Zambia because they have a walking safari that didn't seem too expensive ($40 USD) and the people seem interesting (in all 3 countries, really). However, due to our couch surfing host Paolo being a Portuguese restaurant owner themed after a town in Moçambique, we were presented with the opportunity to go there one weekend and therefore decided to travel north that way. The town: Ponta D'Ouro.
Ponta is the border town of Moça
and after a surprisingly expensive Visa fee and Paolo haggling in Portuguese, we were on our way in a 4x4 since that's the only way to travel in most of the country. We stayed at a camp in town called DevOcean Diving
run by some amazing and fun people that Paolo has known for some time in a tented caravan of sorts.
After the weekend, Paolo went back to South Africa and we had to find transport to the capital Maputo. We thought we had a couch surfing host there, but travel was longer than expected and when we got there we were told it was too late in the night to figure out transport in this confusing town. So we stayed at a hostel called Fatima's Place that seriously had the most comfortable beds ever. Good night's sleep for sure! Here is where we had to get extra pages in Jake's poor old passport through our embassy but when we arrived it was Dia de Revoluçion! and everything was closed. So Maputo we had to spend some unwanted extended time to take care of everything.
It gave us time to figure out our route though, which we decided would be: Maputo -> Inhambane -> Maxixe -> Vilankulo (stay one night) -> Biera (stay two nights) -> Quelimane (stay one night) -> MALAWI.
The first leg which brought us to Vilankulo after 15 hours of travel was rough but not bad, and because we got out of Maputo a day earlier than expected, allowed us two days there instead of leaving the very next morning at 5am. Good thing too because check out my last post to see where we were!
Then we did another 10 hours to get to Biera which turned out to be wayyyyy expensive for a night and Biera was NOT very awesome to be at all! But in a panic of "What in the fuck are we going to do for money if we have to stay here two nights?!!" I rerouted us away from the next two places. We still had to stay one night, but our new route would overall save us money to make up for it.
So now it was: Biera -> Chimoio (stay one night) -> Malawi. And when I looked, it was really Chimoio we should have done from the beginning and NOT Biera at all. But timing at least led us to meet a Belgium girl who was going to Blantyre, Malawi the same day as us, so we got to figure everything out together and she had come from Malawi a few weeks prior so really helped us out that way. Chimoio (she-MOY-yo) is also another place we'd like to come back and spend more time in. Laid against the mountains, it was gorgeous with awesome hiking opportunities.
Well that was a rush! But in that rush of a few days, we really fell in love with this place! The beaches get more and more spectacular the more north you go and the people are amazing! Mozambique tends to be known for it's rough and tumble political situation, but you'd hardly be able to tell on the local level. The theme here is "patience" as they exhibit an exorbitant amount of it. It was nice knowing we didn't have to rush in trying to understand something or someone understanding us and anytime we needed help, whether it was to ask 15 times when the bus was coming, or setting up our new SIM card, or asking for directions, we were always met with kindness and patience. Even the friggin BABIES were patient. Most of our bus/chapa rides were 6-10 hours in length and had a TON of children ranging from infant to 6 year olds and were SILENT the entire trip. "What? 10 hours on a cramped bus or van and no toys to play with and my mom barely paying attention to me except to hand me a cookie every so often? No problem." I mean, these trips were rough, bumpy, tedious, dusty, noisy. Nothing. Kids would MAYBE whine/cry for about 15 seconds and then be fine. And it was once. In 10 hours. Once. And only half the kids. The other half perfect 100% of the time. Only in Mozambique do I not dread sitting next to a child for a 10 hour journey. Seriously if I adopt it's going to be a ridiculously patient Mozambique child. Just sayin'.
Also, land in Vilankulos cost like $5000 USD and if you put up some hostel accommodation…. I can now see why Bruno and his French girlfriend Valerie gave up Europe to come live there and own a backpackers camp. Basically I want to buy a 4x4, buy some land, and dive and hike my way around Moçambique forever.