Mzansi to Maputo – 22 Dec

Off on an adventure

Whoop! 

Yes this is definitely a whooo moment for me! My first time out the country in over four years! The girls and I are enroute to Maputo, Mozambique. I’ve been anticipating this holiday for so long, in part to practice my travel writing  but mostly so that I can keep a running social and witty commentary of my holiday with Sherlock observations and perhaps sexy encounters with tourists that could teach EL James a thing or two. 

I scored the backseat in the first leg of the trip and after a glorious nap I feel alive. My housemates aka travel companions knew better than to try engage me in conversation. It was me,chicken nuggets and nap time to make the world tolerable.

We have around four hours to go, not taking into account the dreaded border post. Mpumalanga is so beautiful and green and thankfully it’s not too hot.

We are nearing Komatipoort and the vegetation has gotten darker and more thick. Taps has taken the wheel and we are hurtling towards the border. I have not been asked to drive yet… I guess the girls are enjoying my comic relief.

Just squealed as we went swerving off the road. “Pothole” Taps says as a means of explanation.

The police are living their best lives today… A roadblock every 5kms. Luckily our car looks completely uninteresting and not worth stopping to solicit a bribe. Truthfully though the road police have been amazing pulling over taxis and busses and heavily loaded vehicles. A very gruelling and underappreciated job.

Near the border, some travellers have pulled to the side of the road to nap off the sweltering heat. Little sheds have been constructed where you can pick up some oranges or a cold one out of a bar fridge. No stopping for us though, we are Joburgers of course.

The border is 4ks away and I’m nervous about the process and looking forward to relaying my experience. I’m hoping to go in as Un-South African as possible… Basically not pessimistic and argumentative.

2kms away from the border post the traffic begins.Taps is impressed by the lack of influx into Moz, apparently the Zim border is worse.

Some people are getting out to look at what’s happening… We don’t have a clear view just yet. Naturally I’m jealous of theTaxis VIP lane.

I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to popsicles everywhere. We take you out of the freezer only to let you painfully melt. For the first time ever I feel your pain. If only I was lucky enough to find someone to lick me so I may pull it together. The crowd present I would not dare ask. We’ve been stuck at the toll for at least half an hour and Caths aircon really is working hard. Sandwiched between two trucks, one of which keeps rolling back as if we are participating in Final Destination.

Taps is killer at this border game. Any gap bigger than 14cms she will insert herself into. It’s quite thrilling actually. Fast and furious without the speed and a lot more anger issues.

We finally get to the border and things immediately go wrong…. Oh what’s this? Redaction? ………

3 hours later we are finally in Mozambique. If you close your eyes you would think we were in KZN. There are tons of billboards advertising washing powders and Vodacom.

Mozambican driving is also another kind. I have a feeling that what hazard lights mean to South Africans…Translated into Portugese it’s another story. Luckily the Mozambicans are polite… Or know their place as Joburgers come barelling past, bullying them onto the yellow line.

We drive for another hour and a half when Taps and I realise something is horribly wrong. Yup Cath has inputed the incorrect address into the GPS and since we don’t have a local SIM card, ta tudo fodido.

We find some friendly looking officers to help us on our way. Cath greets them with an “Hola” which has me snickering and shaking my head after providing the wrong language to greet in. Duolingo for the win!

Luckily my 17% passable Portugese has allowed me to understand the directions given… Or rather the accent in which halting English is delivered. Whoop enroute again only to find out we actually aren’t staying in Maputo but Catembe which is an island which we can only get to by ferry. A helpful official dials me in on the details. Half an hour to load. Half an hour trip. 16 Cars per trip. We were 33 in the queue. Do the math.

The girls go explore the city after holding their bladder for 3 hours while I hold down the fort. It’s fascinating watching hundreds of people load and off load between Catembe and Maputo. I also note whose driving the best cars… Mostly white diplomats, Asians and Indians. The traders keep me entertained… Trying to sell me an iPhone charger for my Huawei or paco robane… Even a brand new Sony cell phone fresh off the pocket of a tourist was on offer. Taps and I are considering hunting for a Samsung Smart TV while we are here… We aren’t fussy from which province or hotel it may have been acquired from.

By 9 we are driving up the gangway which I’m all too excited about. Driving to sail…It’s like Turducken. We are jamming awesome tracks while we wait… Quite tired as the sun has long set. But we reach the other side, no fatalities no thanks to my over active imagination. 

But also Catembe doesn’t have paved roads. It’s okay I tell myself as I kick the little Sazuki Swift into Alex Taxi metamorphosis. We hightail it over sandy potholes and anthill sized speed bumps, narrowly missing hard to see civilians. At some point on the dark lonely road we come grinding to a halt in front of a young turnt and probably high youth. His outstretched arm lands heavily on the bonnet and the passengers in the car simultaneously hold their breaths. I debate what to do but my options are limited…And I’m not trying to see the inside of the Mozambican prison system. He meanders along to the side of the car, hand dragging along the body. I put the gear in first. As I hear Cath screech as the human tries to open the door handle, I hit the accelerator and leave him in our dust.

We arrive at Catembe Gallery Hotel only to face another situation…. Due to our late arrival the bar closes at 10.30…20 minutes time. Although our cooled welcome drinks were perfection we needed something to take the edge of our day…. Much of which has been redacted. We left the house at 6am only to complete check in at 10pm. Cape Town drivers what’s good?

Boob sweat, deflated hair and swollen feet did not slow me down as I raced to throw my bag upstairs and clamber down to order that double Rum and coke.

Now Mozambique is known for its R&R… No not rest and relaxation… Rum and Raspberry! I made sure to quickly put one away after that. My roommates ordered some of the largest most succulent prawns I’d seen since Thailand.

The girls are snoring now as I struggle to finish this post. I’ve given up completing it by midnight… It wouldn’t matter since I sit-in the hotel’s second power outage tonight since we arrived.

I’m excited for breakfast but mostly to order Cervaja… The most Portuguese word I’m comfortable with… But completely useless against bribe seeking soldiers.

Today I kept repeating myself that “This is Africa” but it’s lacking the Sandton intonation. This is Africa, this is an adventure. My first day across the border… What do i remember the most? The helpful people, feeling safe as I sat on the pier waiting to drive onto the ferry, the vibrancy of the city and the smell of grilled prawns.

Buenos Noche

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