Roaming Newton Chapter One:
MOZAMBIQUE Part 1: MAPUTO
Getting to Maputo
“An adventure around every corner” is the only way one can describe Mozambique. With extremely friendly people, awesome beaches, pothole infested roads and giant mosquitoes, what more can one ask for in a ten-day holiday?The trip from Durban was quite pleasant, driving through Swaziland to get to Mozambique turned out to be the quickest route. The boarder posts for all three countries were also surprisingly efficient. Once in Mozambique the ideology of a true Third World country hits you like a ton of bricks. Development is scarce and buildings stand incomplete or uninhabited. Abandoned cars on the side of the road rusted with time give you a scary first impression. However, that all changed once in Maputo.
Arriving in the mid afternoon and leaving the next morning only gave me a tiny glimpse into the workings and surroundings of Maputo. The capital of Mozambique and a city that is certainly the hub of business, Maputo is certainly not a white elephant. We stayed in a backpackers lodge, using Maputo as a stop over to get to Tofo Beach.
Backpacker lodges are cool as long as they are in a First world country! The one in Maputo was not too bad and you get to meet really interesting people from all over the world. Maputo itself is extremely cheap (Rands are accepted nearly everywhere) and there are a number of awesome restaurants and Internet cafes. However once we left Maputo it was an eye opening experience that I would never forget.
MOZAMBIQUE PART 2: TOFO BEACH
Getting to Tofo Beach:
Leaving Maputo and heading for Tofo beach was a trip I would never forget. The journey seemed to go on for hours, always thinking in our heads that the beach was just a stone throw away was really a bad thing to do. It was hot and humid and the roads for most of the journey were scary. There were Potholes that would swallow a car with the greatest of ease, amazingly the little Opel Corsa we were in held up superbly. The one thing that was surprising during the trip was the lack of development, it took adjusting because once you are in Maputo you think to yourself it can only get better or at least stay the same.
Driving through palm tree laced roads, passing the odd bus stop, waving at the locals as they walked by, drinking Coca-Cola (because no matter where you are in a Mozambique, you will get an ice cold bottle of Coke!) the trip seemed to be taking shape. However the flow of the trip was spoilt by the appearance of a Police road block, which made my heart rate dance a little quicker. We had been told to be extremely cautious in road blocks, stick to the advice of the locals and you will somehow be fine. So road block number one was completed with no hiccup which was good because road block number two on the way back cost us a R100 fine!
Finally we got to a city called Inhambane, which was about twenty minutes outside of Tofo beach, it was a really pleasant looking city with the only ATM machine accessible to Tofo. It was also the last place we knew once we got to Tofo that we could fill petrol. Inhambane is the total opposite to the hustle and bustle of Maputo, it has a charming warm atmosphere.
Twenty minutes of dirt slash semi tarred road and we reached Tofo beach! The beach was extremely busy with energetic locals and tourists. Tofo beach was really cool lots of different places to stay at. We stayed at a back packers, which was not so cool. The accommodation was fine but the other necessities well lets just say not exactly what I bargained for. The beach itself was great the water was clean and absolutely clear and you could get some decent body surfing, anything else was not worth venturing into. Tofo was full of activity, scuba diving, snorkeling exercises and quad bikes were all available. The mix of people was extremely cosmopolitan, from the American Peace Core volunteer to the 40 year old English Poet named Andy. Compared to Maputo Tofo was extremely expensive, we presume this was due to the massive influx of tourists to the area during the holiday period.
New Year was great, full of festivities, fire works and people having a good time. It was great to see so many people from so many different backgrounds joining together in celebration. Tofo is an extremely relaxed environment which allowed it to compensate all the diverse cultures coming together. The trip back to South Africa on the 2nd of January was one of the most trying experiences of my life.
MOZAMBIQUE PART 3: GETTING BACK
The Trip back was probably something I would never want anyone to go through. Up at four in the morning on the second of January and we were on our way back home. Looking forward to getting back to South Africa and being as far away from a back packers as possible, I had no idea that half way through the journey I was wishing to be back in my bed at the back packers.
The trip to Maputo from Tofo beach was pretty much the same as the one we took to get there. Lots of people on the roads, big pot holes and Coca-Cola available everywhere! Again the trip was spoilt by a police road block just as we entered Maputo and a hundred Rand later we were back on route to South Africa.
Everything seemed to be going well and we seemed to be on par to getting back to South Africa in good time. To my disappointment this ended as soon as we got to the boarder post and the biggest wait of my life began. There was lots of traffic and I am sure about a “million” people trying to get into South Africa! The wait of seven and a half hours in which we moved a whole 6 kilometers was hectic, something I will never want to repeat in my life. There were some good points though, it was amazing to see so many South Africans pull together and help each other out. Also the fact that Coca-Cola was available was awesome!
I definitely recommend not leaving for South Africa from Mozambique on the second of January of any year! Reaching South Africa was brilliant, people from South Africa where hooting with joy and congratulating each other for getting across the boarder, sounds strange but it was true! Sitting in a car for seven odd hours and not moving anywhere is something I hope no one has to go through and if you have, well I feel for you.
The trip home to Johannesburg was okay minus the massive half an hour storm and heavy mist, everything else went well. After all the hiccups on the way home, we managed to get home at two in the morning, so a trip that should have been around ten hours max turned out to be 22 hours!