Hippo Proof Boat
Spent last evening in conversation with Taffy the proprietor of Norman Carr cottages. He was regaling us with hilarious local stories. We heard how there are 10 types of viagra in the shops for 1 dollar a card. He says the young men take it and hence the massive increase in the birthrate. He suggests putting a secret substance – something like popcorn into the local beer that is designed to explode on excretion, destroying the reproductive organs in the process. Alternatively he thought that they could just put sta-soft in the bath water. He has led a wild and varied life in Africa. Some of his stories included a flying mate by the name of Terence Coffin Grey – a man of 87years old who was the first curator of the Bulawayo museum. Still alive , living in Humansdorp and still in possession of all his marbles. He would definitely have been one Poppie’s contemporaries. Colonial Africa has , I think, only one degree of separation. Everybody between Nairobi and Johannesburg seems to know of, be acquainted with, or have heard of everyone else.
Another story he told was of the ex president who died of cardiac arrest – as a result of an overdose of viagra and Jack Daniels. This is clearly the drug of choice in Malawi.
Taffy’s place – relaxation at its finest. That night a band came and played on the beach – all homemade instruments.
Usual shananigans at the border post. Paid $100 US for a visa that is probably worth $25 US.Computer must have taken 15 mins to boot up. Then the photo needs to be taken. Much drama with the taking of a photo for said visa. Camera on tripod on desk but I had to shift around on the chair to make sure I was in the frame. Not worth annoying them by pointing out an easier way might be to shift the camera. Picture taken , fingerprints taken and visa printed out. Electricity goes off. Everyone sits down. Willy meanwhile is doing the car customs import stuff , awaiting the car search – which can be a major and involve unpacking EVERYTHING. and his process stops. Eventually Willy goes out to the generator , presses the right buttons and gets it going. As a reward – no car search , whole picture thing repeated, his finger prints don’t seem to work so they simply take mine a second time snd add it to his biometric data. Rumour is tht this whole package then goes to the CIA. It may cause them a lttle confusion.
I was offered $500 USD cash for my I phone 6 which caused much excitement.. Road to Cuamba slow but not too bad. Corrugated, with soft sand on edges, down to 40km/hour in some parts but probably about 65km/hour in most parts.
Villages more organised than Malawi Only black market diesel – so lucky we filled up just before leaving Malawi.
We have found tennis balls to be the BEST pressies. The kids are playing with bundles of rags tied up. Their face when you give them a ball is priceless. Slow disbelieving smiles spread over their faces with shouts of ball, ball.The road continued to be variable until we started seeing many many Chinese heavy vehicles.
Miraculously the next minute we were on brand new pristine tar. They are building a road and and railway line to connect the coast of Mozambique to Malawi. It will change the area entirely. In 14 hours of driving we saw not one other white person and only a handful of cars, almost all of which were government. NGO’s don’t seem to move from the main centres interestingly enough. 120km/h was easy other than in the villages. It got dark at about 5.30 but we decided to push on as we were in the middle of bugger all. Just as suddenly as it started, the tar stopped with a large pile of chip spread across the road. Slammed on brakes and cautiously went round the side to find no fixed road on the other side. Picked a route that we hoped was not through too many front gardens, bars, restaurants and general African commotion and gently gently hunted for a road. Tracks for Africa helped us out and we were back on tar soon enough. After 14 solid hours driving we found a campsite recommended in the guidebook as the hotels seemd particularly unappealing. The camp site too was unappealing but fortunately we were the only occupants and it was so dark we couldn’t see how unappealing it actually was. So with half an avo each for dinner we lifted the tent, had a lovely whisky and went to sleep despite the “Atencao Crocodilo”signs. I think the last croc would probably have lived there in the fifties. Revolting polluted yukky place.
This van stopped by one of the many roadblocks and pronounced roadworthy
Nampula for some groceries, sim cards etc. Whilst I was doing the sims , Willy waited in the car and a cheeky fellow tried to remove the gas canister of the back. Realising that he would never get out and be able to chase him Willy reversed into him and knocked him down. The amazing thing is in a crowded market place no one turned a hair to the commotion od Willy shouting, the stealing, or the man having been knocked over. Needless to say he chucked the cover down and ran off. A tour of Nampula showed that it was a good decision to stick with our own bed bugs as the hotels looked highly suspect.
Ille de Mozambique tonight – colonised by Arabs and used as a slave port for many years. Looking forward to seeing the sea.Cashews for sale on side of the road – as yet no square tins with round holes.
Willy’s perspective….. Japanese cars are crap, only the French make wine worth drinking, the colonial Africa of the 50’s is a thing of the past, Africa is crawling withwhite tourists, and Mozambicans are starving. What is it about what we read and are told and why is it that our heads are so full of preconceptions that are so far from the truth. Sitting on a balcony in Ilha, surrounded by a maze of cobblestone alleys bustling with the chatter of children, we could be in Marrakesh or Essouira. Half a century of beautiful beautiful old buildings – many of them still in disrepair I acknowledge – are now being magnificently refurbished.
There is no parking area for our pousada so we went along to see the Padre and he agreed that we could park in a shed belonging to his church. Judith, our hostess, is a stunning woman. Born in Maputo, she married an Italian and has lived for many years before coming to Ilha, in Egypt. Our suite comprises two storeys – each with hand sawn black log rafters encased in bright while mortar. An old hand wound gramophone has pride of place downstairs and the bedroom upstairs opens onto a tranquil courtyard with a massive tree in the centre. Neither of the two visible neighbouring houses have been restored – or at least so it seems But yes, looks can be deceiving. One is a faded ochre and the other is just rendered mortar. A crow is calling in the distance and the smell of the sea is fighting off the smell of roasting cashews. Every hundred metres along the road there is another child holding out a bowl of nuts for sale. We can’t choose whose offer to stop for lest we upset the competitor. So we just drive on by. Nuts.
Costa coffee (his parents were cruel), our ”I will attend to your every need” man has just installed a hammock. Judith is checking to see which restaurants have lobster tonight. The sad reality is that first world problems have spread to third world countries. And yes that was glib; but man you can have a good holiday in Africa. And if you have faith in the trickle down theory and if you aren’t a tightarse then your trickle could provide a reasonable torrent.
Delicious dinner but not without problems. I didn’t eat the salad – Willy did and has spent the night up. Poor fellow is really not feeling well. Medicine bag once again a huge help!
The offending meal – the hugest crayfish I have EVER seen.