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Driving days in Mozambique

MozambiquePosted by Malin Sun, August 05, 2012 20:35:18

After some relaxing days in the Inhambane area with our visiting friends from Norway, our paths took different directions. Actually we both had the same goal, Norway, but they would return to Johannesburg to hand in the rental car and then fly back home. We are still aiming to drive back to Norway up the East coast of Africa, and being in Southern Mozambique we still have quite a long distance to cover. So with that in the back of our minds we decided to cover some distance. In a junction west of Inhambane our friends took a left turn heading south and we took a right turn heading northwards.

Out by the coast it feels like you are driving in a village that goes on for tens of kilometers, there are houses all along the road. Further inland there were less people and houses, and they were grouped in villages as we would know them. In between the villages there was not much, and what struck us was that there was not much farming or large herds of goats or cattle like we were used to see in Namibia and Botswana. It looks like people on the country side in Mozambique farm what they need and only a little for sale.

The road was more or less good, tar the whole way, but sometimes it was full of potholes. Most of the traffic along the road are people walking or biking, there was not so much car or truck traffic. But there are exceptions. First we overtook one new Volvo truck, then a little bit further on we saw one more looking exactly the same and then another one. Then we could see a long line of them in front of us. As they were driving in only 50 kilometers per hour we had to overtake if we wanted to cover some distance.

We counted 20 of the new Volvo trucks, they must have been on their way to be delivered at a project further north. As we stopped in a town to eat lunch they all passed us, so after lunch it was just to start all over again. First day of putting distance behind us we only did 304 km, because we had a slow start and were saying goodbye to friends. The night was spent in Vilhanculos that seemed like a nice town with a good beach.

Next morning at 6 we refueled and were ready for a long day on the road. The road north of Vilhanculos was bad with lots and lots of potholes, and it was not a good start to a long driving day. But luckily the road improved. Then we saw a familiar looking truck in front of us, or to be exact, twenty of them. Apparently they had been driving for some hours already, because they pulled over for a break. Perfect.

I do not know how many villages we drove through that day, but it was many.

When you see more and more people along the road you realize you are approaching a town. And it seems like everyone are carrying something. Fire wood, coals, straws and fresh produce are going into to the towns and the same things and clothes and other commodities are carried back out.

Whenever we passed a river there were always people there doing their laundry and washing themselves.

This is a river close to a small town and doing laundry must be a pretty social activity.

After 722 kilometers and 11 hours in the car the sun was setting as we drove across the Zambezi River.

Just on the other side of Zambezi was a Lodge with a campground that had been recommended to us, and it was time to stop for the night. As sunrise is at 6 in the morning and the sunset is at 17 o’clock in the afternoon this was as much distance we can cover in a day’s drive in Mozambique.

6 o’clock the next morning we were ready again.

This day the landscape really changed. It was a bit more up and down, and all around us were really fascinating rock formations, domes and hills. And after doing 685 kilometers we camped in this landscape just outside Nampula.

Day four of covering distance we only had 210 kilometers to drive so we had a slow start. Driving back into Nampula we were pulled over at a police check point for the first time in Mozambique. We had heard so many bad stories about the police in Mozambique, that they are underpaid and look for all opportunities to give you a fine or take a bribe. This is a photo about common traffic offences in Mozambique from a tourist brochure we got in the Gaza Province (the province next to Maputo and that also borders to South Africa).

We have tried to take all this rules into account, so far the police have not been interested in us and we have just been waved through all the check points. The Nampula officer smiled, said good morning and asked us where we came from. We were stuttering, because we could not remember the name of the place we had spent the night. Complexo…complexo….??.. Finally the officer helped us out and said Complexo Montes Nairucu Lodge. YES, that was the place. Then he just smiled and said we could keep on driving without wanting to check any papers.

Along the road there are many people trying to sell what they produce. There are handbags and baskets made of straw, mats, beds, chairs, piri-piri sauce, fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, meat and live chickens. Some have put up small stalls while others are holding up what they want to sell. Still, we have not been hungry enough to buy the live chickens they are holding upside down in their legs while they are shaking them just to show us it is a live. On a stretch of the road between Nampula and Monapo the sales people changed their approach to something we have not seen so far. I do understand that these people are poor and need to sell their stuff, but these guys (they were all males between 20 and 30) were suicidal. When they heard or saw a car approaching they jumped up and walked into the street and into the lane where you are driving, and to avoid them you had to cross into the lane coming towards you. After driving over into the other lane a few times, I thought this is not right so I just kept on driving in my lane. They were still standing there in the middle of the road as you approached and just in the last second they swung away the items they were holding out for sale and themselves. It does not feel right at all driving past people so close in 80 km/h, and then I am driving slower than most local vehicles that just blast past us. After this I tried to slow down before the sales people when they were in the middle of the road before me, but then they were just running like crazy to the side of the road to get more things to show us because they thought I was stopping to buy something. After 30 -40 of these suicidal sellers we drove through Monapo and after that the sellers behaved like normal again.

Finally after 1900 kilometers we reached the Indian Ocean again. We left the mainland for a while as we drove across the bridge out to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ilha de Mozambique / Mozambique Island. More about this island in the next blog.

Malin

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