well, Heather and I left Blantyre, Malawi with high hopes that we could skip a dead beat town, Tete, and go straight to Chimoio within a day. We were wanting to get to the coast but forgot to consider that every country has different bus times and means of travel.
We got on a minibus in Blantyre and after only 30 minutes of waiting, it was filled and we headed to the border. Within an hour we were there. I was so happy when a Malawian business man, whom I mistook as being from Mozambique since he looked Hispanic (portuguese, mozambican) than Indian or African, asked where we were headed. He said he’d help us cross the border. He was an angel sent to help us.
We got our passports stamped out for Malawi and then we had to walk a bit to get a taxi. There were guys wanting to help carry bags and I normally always do it myself-out of not knowing how much to pay and for ensuring I still have my bag but this guy said don’t worry, let them take it. We got in the taxi and drove 5km in “no man’s land” to the Mozambican border. He and heather exchanged money on the street. I didn’t need to and it makes me nervous, knowing it’s illegal and the border post is viewable yet it wasn’t a problem. We had our visas after 3o minutes… and paying a few extra dollars for them to drink, though they said it was a visa processing fee. He waited for us and we all got on a mini bus.
As soon as we crossed, Portuquese, the national language of Mozambique, was spoken and there seemed to be a different flavor in the air. It’s amazing how you cross the border and you can notice a difference. Then again, it is a different country. We waited a bit to fill up the bus and off we went. I immediately noticed how bad the roads are full of potholes. We were often weaving around them or driving on the in the dirt instead. All the while, were crammed like sardines, windows opened for our make your own air-conditioning and the same 3 songs playing over and over blasting. I burst into laughter.
I love having Heather with me. It’s times like these, where I ask myself, How did I get here and why am I choosing to put myself in this next to ridiculous (by western standards/ideas) experiences?
We got to Tete by 1pm feeling tired but wanting to get on another bus to Chimoio but quickly realized it wasn’t possible. Buses to Chimoio leave at 4:30am. Ok. So, in the almost deserted bus station we grabbed a coke from a half-blind young man, sat in the shade and then busted out my pocket knife to eat an avocado that someone on the minibus bought for us. We wanted some but then wouldn’t let us pay. Good times.
After a short wandering and inquiring for a room- they were all over priced. we settled in to one that had air conditioning, bath rooms in the hallway and a tv with only one channel. But had no reception or receptionist. The bus station was a 50 step walk, which makes life easy when you’re up at 4am! We roamed around Tete but every store was closed- it was a sunday after all but where is everyone. oh, and we saw a goat’s head on the street with lots of flies buzzing around. We found an italian restaurant and when we were walking back a little parade for HIV awareness was going on.
We get on the bus- a 30 seater bus which is a slight upgrade from a mini bus. When I asked what to do with our big packs he said there was no room for them… so we had to sit on one and put the other one at our feet. The ride was good but a bit too long for sitting on packs and no room. when we had a bathroom break we got out through the window. HA!
From our drive saw: 2 goats hanging from a tree with one being skinned. And at a short stop to collect passengers and buy food from our window (always cookies and sodas…sometimes fruits, samosas, boiled eggs, cooked corn, crafts that are known in that region), I see 20 some goats being tied to the roof of a mini bus! That must be one hell of a freaky ride for the goats! oh the things I see and it’s become normal to me.
We arrive in Chimoio around 11 am- 7hr bus ride not too bad. There were two young sisters from Israel who were on our bus headed to Vilankulos too so we walked to the Pink Papaya hostel. We find out we can’t make it to Vilankulo’s so head into the small town to find out about buses for the following day. I’m amazed. I don’t feel like I’m in Africa. It feels like Europe or South America. Nice homes- the backpackers is in a residential area, streets are wider, lots of trees line the sidewalks, bread shops-yum!, little cafes, people selling used clothes on the street, vegetable and fruit sellers, beggars. We figure out our bus plans- finally realizing we have to mini bus it and then change at a junction. Thank goodness for guidebooks!
We awoke at 4am to be on a minibus by 5am. One minibus is pulling up as we head to the almost deserted station yet people are up and starting to set up their little shops of cookies, water, soda and other junk food perfect for bus rides. We wait 45 min before heading out- safe and comfortable 1hr ride. We then back track for 10 min with our packs and day packs to the supposed junction is for a bus to Vilankulos still 6hrs a way. Luckily, the younger and peppy Israeli sister starts making a mad dash and I realize she’s it’s the bus we need for Vilankulos. SUrprisingly there are 4 seats… until we all board and I realize I need to change seats so a few Heather can sit down. So, I move to a non-existent seat with 2 people on either side of me and day pack on my lap and a metal bar that I occasional feel underneath me. Decently packed in. I am in Africa after all. Buses are never full!
I start feeling hungry after 3hrs on the bus so pull out my pocketknife, some bread, my “squissy and ready to explode yet very tasty avocado and have a picnic in the bus. I’m laughing thinking of the situation. But why not? Let’s make the bus ride more interesting. I barely have room for my body… let’s start making avocado sandwiches! The best part, aside from eating them is throwing the seed and skin out the window. Along with remnants of mangos and guava seeds. I refuse to throw out soda cans and wrappers as all Africans seem to do- “let the world be your garbage can,” I mutter to myself.
After a few hours of sitting in a cramped space with out much room to move my legs or body, I reach the point of unbearable and wonder how I’m going to make it for the remaining 3 hrs. Somehow after a few more stops a few people get off and eventually we get more space… we move up to the front of the bus near the woman bus driver. A woman bus driver- you don’t see this very often. Not until the end of the ride, did she let on she spoke wonderful English.
Finally, we reach the azure ocean.
Welcome to Vilankulos
I’m speaking in Spanish… thankfully Portuquese and Spanish are similar or I don’t know what I’d do. Life would be more difficult. I don’t notice a language barrier too much because I know enough Spanish.