7 February 2013- Caia, Mozambique
Driving through rural Mozambique listening to Paul Kelly (from St Kilda to Kings Cross) and Cold Chisel (Flame Tree) is a bit weird! We have spent the morning on the road after leaving our first camp in Mozambique, passing through lush tropical green landscape full of banana trees, mango trees and the ever present maize that is seemingly grown in every spare bit of land in much of southern Africa. We have been passing women carrying any number of things on their heads and babies on the backs, men riding push bikes absolutely loaded with goods, people selling charcoal and a wide variety of luscious fresh fruit and children selling bush meat – in all its forms from just killed (being held up dead by the neck) to freshly butchered hanging from the tree to even roasted on the fire! And everyone selling some sort of brown liquid in plastic bottles- fuel? We don’t know!
We had our final few days in Zimbabwe in the Bvumba Mountains in the eastern highlands which was brilliant. We found a nursery/backpackers that had space for camping with a breathtaking view and no one else around. The house looks like an old English guest house from the 70’s maybe 80’s musty smelling, old magazines but spotless and lovely friendly staff around, as always plenty of staff but no other guests! We spent the evening making dinner etc enjoying the view and the very peaceful quite night. The next morning we went for a walk for most of the day, down a narrow winding road that wandered past ladies who sit under trees all day and hand embroider tablecloths and aprons hoping to sell them (to who?) We ended up walking 6 or 7 km down to a once grand hotel (with faded photos of Princess Diana visiting) which is still very nice inside (although a but run down on the outside) and once again looked like in days gone by it was a busy bustling place but not now. I went back to landy while Olly carried on a bit further and just as he got back the afternoon clouded up and soon the heaviest longest rain we have had on the whole trip pounded landy, with us snuggled inside. We woke to a misty morning (Bvumba means mist in the local language) and left for the border town of Mutare to do a few things before crossing the border. We wanted to find some wi fi to do a few bits we needed to do which took ages, finally we found some in the lobby of a hotel. One of our last things to happen in Zim summed up our time there- as we were getting fuel someone drove up next to us and tooted his horn, pulled over and questioned us about where we are from, going etc and warmly wished us a safe and happy journey saying ‘hope you come back to Zimbabwe!’
Crossing the border into Mozambique was easy and hassle free, although gone are the days of the first few borders we went though when we were the only ones there, lately its been us and dozens of big trucks waiting to cross. We have figured out we don’t wait behind them we just skirt around and get moving. It took about an hour to cross the border which was mostly waiting to get our visas on the Moz side, which was very high tech, them taking our photo and scanning our finger! Anyway it was all professional and no problems and off we were into Mozambique. I was feeling a little nervous and knowing little about Mozambique with few if any ideas of what it would be like.
Straight away it felt and looked different but we couldn’t pinpoint why. We think it may be the buildings, they are more European rather than English and it just feels a bit rawer and edgier and of course it is the first country we have been to that English is not an official language (the language of government). It seems a colourful, tropical place. The first 60km or so of road were great, no potholes, a shoulder and lines! Soon that disappeared and now there are stretches of decent roads for a few km, just enough to lull you into driving normally when suddenly there are not so much potholes as craters a foot or so deep! If you hit one at speed you would do some serious damage! You can sometimes tell when they are coming because a large bus will be coming straight at us veering all over the road to try to avoid the biggest ones.
We had thought we might go out to Ilha de Mocambique but decided with the short time we have here it would just be all driving so decided to give it a miss and stay inland.
Last night we stayed at a simple friendly campground just outside a national park and today have traveled about four hours north and are staying at a lodge that has a camping area. There does not seem to be many places to camp here so we stopped early and will have the afternoon here rather than carry on.