I was just reading the last post and fondly remembering the quesiness in my stomach as we took off out of Lusaka in a 1996 used car that we had owned just a couple of days….. headed for Mozambique!!! Many would call it a foolhardy thing to do – and after having done it, I would have no rebuttal
we got away with it this time.
After two weeks of downpour showers in Zambia, we took off for Mozambique on December 9, wondering WHY we were choosing to do this trip at this time of the year. Everything is wet, with flooding after every shower….I must say that we packed our small backpack tent in to the car with a great deal of trepidation and off we went for our first stop in Chipata (Zambia, but on the Malawi border). Here we stayed with our Brit friends, Alan and Frances, who were also leaving on the same trip, but in their car.
Alan is here as an accompanying partner (husband) of Frances, who is working with local farmers in the Eastern Province. Alan became friends with a leader in a small village near Chipata and over time got a brainstorm idea that HE could build them a school. A short term volunteer from the UK, who arrived with our group, returned home and managed to fund raise enough money to get the project under way.
Now realize that these local kids were going to school under a completely open air “insaka”, about ten feet in diameter. There are MANY more kids that want to go to school, but just not the resources to accommodate them. Alan drew up some plans for a much larger facility and after visiting the chief for approval (and giving him an offering of a GOAT), received permission to go ahead with the project. Ilene and I visited just after they had completed the shelter. They plan to have 150 kids going to school there in the near future.
Alan, his crew and the NEW SCHOOL!!! (Congrats Alan)
From Chipata, we drove over the boarder to Malawi and further south to a town called Lilongwe, where we camped for the night (after pulling Alan and Frances’ car out of a mud bog just as it was getting dark).
Ilene playing games with kids as we wait for truck to pull car out of mud
The next day we decided to take the “short cut” to the Entre Lagos boarder crossing in to Moz. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the bridge that eventually made us take the “long route”, but suffice it to say that another unfortunate soul had clearly gone THRU (and not over) the bridge. As we arrived, about 75 locals immediately “appeared” and insisted that they could put planks over the hole and it would be “good”. “Good” depends on who’s car it is and whether you are driving the car or waiting for the show to begin. As I contemplated a way to make it work, I went over to Alan only to receive his sage advice….
“There is no way in hell I am taking my car over that bridge”
Fortunately, we back tracked and took the long way. Here are a few scenes from the 2 hard days of dirt road driving:
Ilene trying to catch a ride in a Landrover instead of our Rav 4
Friends, as you to go to bed in your comfortable home this evening, there are millions and millions of Africans waking up in these typical huts
a local bus, as we approach Ihla Mozambique
Ihla Mozambique is really an interesting place. It was a former Portugese trading center and was obviously BOOMING in it’s day….but now, almost a ghost town, with the relics of a very rich past. It was strange walking amongst all of these old decaying buildings – you could easily FEEL the energy of days gone by.
Oh, I got stung above the eye, by a wasp (I think?) along the way to the coast. A little irritation for a couple of days, followed by a little swelling and then one morning I woke up looking like this:
"In the clearing stands a boxer, a fighter by his trade..."
Doesn't much matter what country, kids love to be photographed
From Ihla Moz to Pemba. This is a place that I found on line and sort of made it the destination for the trip. We stayed at a WONDERFUL, relaxing camp just outside of town and right on the water. Highlights were hours in the hammock reading and snoozing, a mud bath (very gooey and fun), snorkelling with beautiful fish and THE beach bar of my dreams (when I was contemplating this trip from far away Zambia)
We stopped by here for a beer....turned in to three beers, a couple games of cribbage and a prawn dinner until it got dark
Then on to Ibo Island. This is another former Portugese trading stronghold. A beautiful island, reached by driving down miles and miles of dirt road, parking your car in a make shift enclosure and sailing out through the mangroves to the island – about an hour to hour and a half away.
We went out to a ship wreck to go snorkelling. I really can’t fault the captain on this one. It is way out in the middle of the Indian Ocean… you just wouldn’t believe that you could ever go aground here. But the fish were amazing. If they had been in an aquarium, you would accuse the owner of being cruel to these animals for packing them in there so tightly. The best I have ever experienced. A few highlights from Ibo:
not Ibo, but near where we went snorkelling
bike ride through the town
This touched me, as I have built MANY similar boats in my youth and sailed them off to unknown adventures. These boys really had it down though
Boats in the bay on Ibo
Then on to a little peninsula called Pengane. Ilene wasn’t really excited about this little adventure, after reading about the road out to it. It calls for 10 KM of soft sand track, and recommended to deflate tires for better traction and only go out there with 4 wheel drive. Well, we had 4WD and I was all over it.
I have to admit that my knuckles were sore from grabbing the wheel so tightly for 10 solid KM’s, but what a gorgeous little fishing village. The way these people live is just amazing – totally dependant on the sea. The little girls would net fish along the shore during the day, while the older boys would go out to sea in these SKIMPY little dugouts. Along the beach, there is constantly some sort of fish on drying racks in the sun, or situated around a charcoal fire. It is a very special place.
The "Road to Pangane"
Scenes from a fishing village
fish drying EVERYWHERE
The village huts...you know, these guys don't have it too bad
Ilene was picking up shells and soon found a helper
women and girls in the region commonly apply this paste to their face as a sort of "facial". These girls were just sitting at the edge of where we were camped and watched us for about an hour. I thought "Hell, if they are going to sit around and bug us, I'm finally going to go get the picture that I have been to reserved to go for."
Pangane camp site
By this time, as you may have been able to tell by the photos, we have had a LOT of sun and it was hot. We were very pleased to be on our way to Gurue, which is up in the mountains, amongst tea plantations. Another beautiful place. This is one that Ilene had heard about and that SHE really wanted to go to, and I had a few reservations as to whether it put us in a very good place to get back to Malawi from. It was an arduous 13 hour (stop only for gas) drive and we made it just after dark, in a DOWNPOUR. The cooler temperatures were a real relief. Here, we stayed at a Catholic Mission that catered to small business enterprises. They had an amazing woodworking shop, an equal metal shop, grinding mills, electronics, automotive and agriculture programs, and their own mill for cutting lumber. All of this surrounded by a very quaint village among towering mountains (for Africa) and tea plantations. A wonderful spot. When we arrived, they told us to unload our bags and that dinner was in 5 minutes. A sit down dinner for about 20 guests from all over the world. It was great!
I did a little photo essay of women carrying “stuff” on their heads. This will never cease to amaze me. The loads that are carried in this manner are amazing. Huge sacks of grain, a meter wide baskets FILLED with fruit, large tubs of water….ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING!!
LET ME BE VERY BLUNT
Most of the women in these countries work there ass off. They make the meals, do the dishes, take care of the kids, carry the water, collect firewood, work in the fields, clean the house and surrounding landscape, harvest the crops, dry the food, etc.
The men….. don’t do ANY of that stuff. It is the men that hang out in the villages at night and drink, chatter about and who knows what. Some are hard working, of course, but too many are not. It is very sad to see.
This last photo, I am giving special importance to. We met this couple while hiking around in the tea plantation. The husband was very upset about something and very perturbed with his wife. He was yelling this and that and making all sorts of gestures with his hands and arms. This while she carries the load of firewood on her head and his child in her tummy. He would not even think of helping her out.
I have a hard time even "looking" at this photo
And here are a couple of the typical houses in the area. It is very beautiful
And on to Lake Malawi. We spent New Years here – arriving in a downpour, after a long, hard drive. Pretty uneventful New Years, but we can’t complain, as it’s been a very interesting trip up to this point. We camped the first night and after waking up at five AM to a party that was still going right next to us, we splurged on a wonderful hut, right on the sandy beach of the lake. Now THIS was relaxing
A welcome reprieve from a bad New Year's in the tent
Can you say "Kick your feet up???"
A fitting end to the trip
Well that’s about it for the Mozambique adventure. It was a very memorable trip and all in all came off pretty smoothly. The kids are arriving back in the village and it sure is good to see them. It just doesn’t feel right without their energy around. Plus we have about 20 new kids to the village that we are all excited to welcome in.
Friends from Seattle (Dana, Martha and family) have been with us the past couple of days. They are off to South Luangwa and will be back next week. It’s so nice to have visitors from back home.
Happy trails to the skiers in the Methow. I understand that you have been DUMPED on this year.
And Happy New Year to ALL
Jerry and Ilene