Everything was working against our planned weekend trip to Macaneta in Mozambique.
Firstly, there was a lack of transportation. My car had been out of service for a number of weeks, and no-one else had a car registered in their name that could be driven where we were going.
The second barrier was weather. In the week leading up to our great escape, Mozambique was hit by intensive rain, leading to extensive flooding, 40-odd deaths, and mass evacuations.
Finally, there was the issue of visas. For whatever reason, the Mozambican Embassy seemed to have run out of them. Unless, of course, you wanted to pay three times the price at the border.
Despite this, I don’t think there was any point where we actually thought we might not make it. Such was our resolve.
Sure enough, my car was delivered back to me the week before departure. The floods (only) threatened towns further north of our destination. And by spending a lazy three hours at the Embassy, I managed to snaffle 7 of the entire week’s shipment of 15 visa stickers.
Come Friday afternoon, our excitement was at bursting point. Becky, Louise, Camille, Fundzi, Maureen, Hayley, Clare, Mityo and I were off to Maputo. First stop was Fatima’s Backpackers to drop off our bags, tart up and have a few chilled wines before making our way to Mundo’s for pizza dinner and Caipirinhas. There we were met by Becky’s friend, Carlos, who became our chaperone for the evening.
After dinner it was on to the Ice Lounge to get a taste of Maputo nightlife. Unfortunately, the entry was far beyond our budgets at ~$15 per person, but thankfully we had Carlos to talk his way into two tickets, and the beautiful Camille to bat her eyelids and secure us another four. The Ice Lounge was, well, what you’d expect from an expensive Mozambican club. Drinks were pricey (when you had to buy them yourself), the music was random, and the crowd consisted of old men and very athletic-looking girls (which led me to do squats on the dance floor to build up an African butt. Hmm….looking back, I think I probably had a few too many wines). Come 4am, the seven of us that remained, squeezed into Carlos’ car to get a couple of hours of sleep before the next adventure.
Later that morning, after struggling to get a mostly-naked old man to move his car and battling the Maputo traffic (oh, and throwing a wee tiredness-triggered tantrum), we were happily tucking into pastries and coffee at Continental. With the markets just down the road, it was inevitable that we would then end up shopping and finally, by lunchtime, we were ready to the hit the road and make our way North. Unfortunately, so was the rest of Maputo. The 2-hour, 35km bumper-to-bumper journey was punctuated only by a police stop where poor old Louise copped a 3,000 Meticais fine for what, we’re not exactly sure, thanks to that Portuguese-English language barrier.
Around 3pm, we finally made it to Carlos’ house at Marracuene, where we hastily dropped off our cars and speedily made our way to the Macaneta ferry. We then proceeded to wait for half an hour, inhaling fumes in the hot sun while the ferry lazily loaded, and occasionally damaged, cars. Across the 100m inlet, we were greeted by a safari jeep to take us to Jay’s Lodge, on the beach.
The anticipation of being immersed in salt water almost led me to abandon my swimmers. In hindsight, I probably should have, as the massive shore breaks very nearly removed them for me. Once I had avoided the crabs, navigated the rip, and got past the break, though, I was as happy as a seal in salt water. As the sun set, wine made its way into my glass, and as night came, a banquet of crayfish, barracuda, fresh prawns and calamari made its way into my belly. Then it was back to our chalets for a dip in the lodge’s pool while staring at the starry ceiling. Life doesn’t get better than this.
After a mere four hours sleep the night before, the prospect of a sleep-in was something I could only dream about. Delirious, I signed myself up for a 4:30am view of the sunrise. Words really can’t describe the feeling of bobbing around in the ocean, with the early morning sun gently warming your face, and the entire beach empty except for you, your friends and a whole lot of crabs. Life really doesn’t get better than this.
Back at the chalets, we finished off the morning with fresh bread and mango fruit salad before jumping back on the jeep to head to the ferry, to head to Maracuene, to head to Maputo, to head back to Swaziland. On the way, though, we stopped to pick up some emergency supplies (more pastries) and enjoy lunch at the fish markets. Unfortunately the lunch took three hours to arrive, and was missing some key ingredients (prawns), but was delicious none-the-less. After a long journey, we arrived home at 10pm, fatigued, penniless, hair filled with sand, yet sublimely content. Life really, really doesn’t get better than this.