After writing my last post, paranoia set in. I’ve jinxed it. The 6-month visa won’t come through. Josa won’t make the border (and I’ll be jailed). Renamo, the increasingly vocal opposition party in Mozambique, will make road travel too dangerous. Call me a worrier.
But, here we are. We’ve retraced familiar steps through South Africa and Mozambique, and are on the verge of driving north of Tofo – the sleepy beach town we spent March in. All looks – dare I say it – rosy.
Our final hoorah in St Lucia was a visit with the recently arrived humpback whales. Having heard incredible stories from others, we dawned a life jacket and massive rain coat and hurtled over a very rough ocean. I spent much of the trip out with my eyes closed stewing about my distrust for the ocean and boat driver. But then Bryce spotted one. Then 11 others. For the next hour, whales literally flew out of the water everywhere you looked. I understand it was a great show in masculinity for the lady humpbacks before breeding near Madagascar. I was impressed.
With that, it was a final trip down to Durban to get the visa and take in a final dose of city life. We swung by the movie theater to watch Superman in 3D which was, after months of bootlegged street movies, overwhelming. We found a South African Menchies (no cookie dough toppings…), stocked up on a delicious Indian meal, and FINALLY saw the last episodes of Game of Thrones. Visas (and gourmet muffins) in hand, we were off.
The first stop in Mozambique was Ponto do Ouro. While this beach town is essentially an informal extension of South Africa, it does provide a stark welcome back to Moz. Upon crossing the border, all tar roads disappear and you are launched into deep sand roads with no signs. We spent a few days in town listening to the experiences of South Africans doing business in Mozambique. With nearly all businesses foreign owned in Ponto, it seems as though they receive particular scrutiny from government officials. People’s love for the land seems to overpower their frustration with running a business.
Leaving Ponto, we took a quick detour to the Maputo Special Reserve. It is one of the oldest National Parks in Mozambique, and includes huge lakes, bush, forest and a spectacular coastline. It allegedly holds a substantial elephant population; however, hunting in recent years has made them rather illusive. We spent much of our time navigating even deeper sand roads through the park with the help of our new GPS, Gary. The park has pretty limited infrastructure – no maps, no signs – so you really do fend for yourself. We managed to find the campsite though, and it all became worthwhile. Gorgeous empty coast shared with a handful of other visitors on one side, and rolling plains on the other. Barring the garbage and the limited upkeep, it is one of the better camping locations.
We stayed for a night before continuing the drive to Maputo – again, on more sand roads. 200km of driving ended up being two decently full days in the car. This southern section is set to receive a paved road from the Chinese which really will revolutionize it – perhaps for the worse. Anyway. We finally hit Maputo.
We stayed in Maputo for a few days to get ourselves sorted. It was incredibly refreshing to be back. Between the Mozambicans, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the aid workers, the investors and the tourists all having breakfast at sidewalk cafes together, you’re able to feel a bit less like an outsider. And, have I mentioned how very stylish everyone is in this city? The people-watching really is something. However, a few days back was a harsh realization that my limited Portuguese had deteriorated, and so I quickly picked up a language book and have been busily conjugating verbs ever since.
And that brings us to Tofo! We’ve spent a few days here sussing out opportunities and taking yoga classes while Josa madly plays with a puppy.