Two Days in the Life – Part 1

Not long after sunrise we boarded a pick-up truck to Kilambo, the last Tanzanian town before the Mozambican frontier. With about 15 others in the back I held on for all I was worth trying to time a soft landing for my already numb backside. A piric and painful exercise. An hour later we arrived at immigration and checked out. Soon after that we found ourselves at the banks of the Rio Rovuma haggling for passage. 5000 Tanzanian Shillings the agreed price for us both. Half way across the price increased. All of a sudden it was now Mozambique Meticais. An argument ensued. The final outcome was three people being thrown off the boat as I refused to pay. Seemingly, the guy I’d arranged passage with was not a “boatman” and was getting free passage on my ticket. The real boatman now worried that he’d not get any money marooned the three of them on a random sandbar. Mutiny over we got to the other side, laughing. A crocodile watched, it smiling also.

A pick-up was waiting on the other side and soon after docking we headed for the immigration outpost. 15 uncomfortable people atop random this and that. The passports stamped and customs finished we waited for the others. And waited, and waited, and waited… and waited. After three hours it turned out that the Tanzanians that arrived with us, about seven, had no entry visas. The immigration officer obviously waiting for a bribe that was not coming.

We were growing impatient as a couple of Chinese fellas showed up in a 4×4. We cadged a lift with them and off we went. Ten metres later we got a puncture. Over an hour later the wheel not off as there was an odd nut on the wheel that the brace would not fit over. Eventually, the wheel came off with a lot of sweating and cursing. Then, just as we are about to pull off the immigration officer stops us to check passports. He watches us for four hours, and then asks for passports as we leave !!! More delays.

The road to Nampula

The road south

Finally off we went. At speeds of over 80 km/h, again I held on for all I was worth in the back, as we trundled through some of the most amazing sand forest I’ve ever seen. Hotel Palma our new home as Mocimboa da Praia, the planned destination about 100 kilometres away, was a field just too far. Rice, sauce and a cheese sandwich for dinner we retired to our waterless and electricity devoid room. Local time was now dictating that sundown be at 5:15 P.M. Both of us were asleep by 8:30 P.M. in preparation for our 5:30 A.M. start for transport to Mocimboa. We had travelled 100 kilometres in ten hours.