Leaving Ibo – Alto Molecue – Gorongosa

River washing

Left Ibo on an early flight – flights are very flexible. You go when they tell you you can. Long drive yesterday with an unattainable target of getting To Caia to the James White camp ( an ex Selous scout turned forester). The sun sets at 5.30 and its very unsafe to continue driving as unexpectedly and randomly bridges and roads suddenly don’t exist – at night to hard to spot and avoid.

Why you cant drive at night

Our hosts in Alto Molecue

We landed in a town called Alto Molucue. No Pensao from the guidebook – all described as best of bad bunch. However we had to stop so decided that we would ask to just sleep in their carpark (still prefer my own bed bugs). At a possibility a man waved us and said certainly we could park there for 400 Mt ( about $15.00) Our objective was to not use the place at all – so really needed a garden in which we could park in such as way as to be able to wee in the garden. Was not to be . They said we could use the bathroom . This was situated in a lurid green cupboard, was the smaller than an average NZ shower and had a loo that honestly no one could have used. The shower was a rusty tray with some sort of hose arrangement – I couldn’t bear to look. Luckily I am brazen and Willy’s a boy and the garden more appealing. Another half avocado for dinner this time with the can of tuna tipped into it and some mayonnaise( thank thank you Anita) Once again in bed before 6.00. I gotta say I love my roof tent with its nice feather pillows and white linen!!

This time very little whisky as we had a feeling we needed to be alert.

Busy night – the comings and goings as watched through the mozzy nets in our tent . Red ute parked next to us (the flat bed apparently provides extra accommodation for the activities of the place ) motorbikes bring woman in , men in , men out women out , men in women in men out again. Continuously all night. All with thumping African music going on in the background and poor puppy crying.   As it happened – I put in my earplugs and slept the first half of the night Willy then slept second half whilst I dozed semi awake second half. 5.00 am we were up and gone. Luckily – given we’ve been going to bed before 8.00 every night neither of us is sleep deprived. Now trying to make it all the way to Gorongosa for tonight. All ducks falling into line we may try to go across on 4X4 tracks and enter the KNP from the north instead of going south to Maputo and drive slowly down to the party.

Epic fail on prawns so far. Ordered some wild ones whilst in the Quirimbas that failed to materialize. Will try Vilanculos / Bazaruto – but they may be farmed and not so keen on those. Roll on the five star lodge at Bazaruto.

Other than Ilha de Mocambique and IBO North Mozambique is completely untourist savvy. We have seen ONE other tourist car to date (10 days? ) and in places if you stop little children and women run away from you and then stare from a distance. Today I walked towards a group of women and gave them some bits and pieces of food and also some bubbles for the children. I showed them how to work the bubbles trying to explain it was “E sunlight soap” and they could make some more. I blew some to show them. The women then started blowing some (about ten had gathered round by now) – the shrieks of laughter were so heartening. We have had far more pleasure from the odds and ends we brought than is reasonable. The best thing is they don’t ask for anything at all.

Subsistence farming still all we have seen other than one large coffee plantation today. Streets still lined with people selling bananas , reed mats, potatoes, tomatoes, bottles of diesel and little else. Today was also the first evidence we have seen of children going to school though. I am sure that this area has not changed much since the fifties.

Today, as I said we were gone EARLY. It was obviously a big market day. Children as young as five walking 7 or 8 km to the market with whole arms of bananas on their heads, with huge baskets of tomatoes on their head, with bundles of rushes such that you couldn’t even see them.

Firewood !

It has been becoming more and more apparent to us that massive changes need to take place in Mozambique. Subsistence farming in villages for literally thousands of miles , uncontrolled breeding( every girl over 3 has a baby on her back), deforestation at an alarming rate trees are just cut down at will and of course the favorite one burning.   A distressing incident at a petrol station – which I won’t relate as there’s no point in distressing you has simply confirmed what has been niggling me and in fact both of us. The wholesale rape of the environment is unchecked and nobody cares, there’s nobody to report it to , those at the top couldn’t care less about encouraging farming or industry or processing. They simply care about their own back pocket – and nobody even cares about that! They are simply fat bloated scavengers that have found their way to the top of the food chain. They used to have a huge industry processing cashews – factory unused now. Just little kids on the side of the road selling basins of them. Mangoes – everywhere. None buys them in season they can pick their own. Bananas by the million being trekked to market – no one buys them cause everyone has them. Bloody daft. We have seen almost nothing living. No birds, nothing. Apparently the villagers kills snakes, lizards, chameleons, monkeys, rats mice, everything. So what the burning doesn’t kill they do.

Due my upset at the petrol station we took a detour to see a man by the name of James White – I mentioned him earlier – the Ex Selous scout. I went to ask him who to talk to (answer = nobody) however; he has a forestry concession and has allowed the bush to regenerate. He says the progress is amazing – with the lack of burning and grazing of blessed goats. He has put in a few buck and he says he has gennet , baboons, vervets , all sorts coming back. Nature is so incredibly forgiving but surely there must a point at which it says no more. But nobody is actually telling these people or teaching them any alternatives – so…. What I was getting to is that there has been a total breakdown in this country. How it will be redeemed I don’t know.

Site of overspeeding

Then this stream of consciousness was interrupted by yet another police roadblock. This time it was “over speeding” by what sir? 136 km/hr. What says Willy – on this road (pot holes a foot deep everywhere most places we were doing 10 -20km/hr ) never! So drivers license handed over, Willy invited out. He was doing MAX 75km/hr. at that moment and even that was unlikely. Argument ensues Willy try’s to retrieve his license , minor bit of scuffling , Willy says he will phone Carlos- ( a man well known for taking on police corruption) “Phone him” says the man . Willy goes to the ‘police car’ to try to retrieve his license and is shouted at to GO. I go to try to retrieve license with my phone video on man snatches it – Willy comes over and slightly larger scuffle , I continue filming Willy really angry , man decides hes not going to win this one, Man with AK47 says VAI! (go) we get in our car and go. 8000Mt ( a vast amount of money here) does not change hands this time. Now running very late for park gates.

New low on this stretch of road with rats on sticks.  Great to be in a Game reserve.

Warthogs in camp

5 thoughts on “Leaving Ibo – Alto Molecue – Gorongosa

    • Linda. There’s rough with the smooth and sometimes the ways of Africa are very hard to tolerate. Frustration at waste of valuable and marketable resources. Right now on Gorongosa there’s time for a breather. Warthogs milling about and baboons barking. Looking forward to seeing you.

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  1. Jeez Anne and Willy, this is quite out there as trips go. Well done. Not nice but those of us in the comfy beds need to hear where the planet is heading. Do you think nostalgically about the Strzelecki Track?!

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  2. Willy, whiskEy has many uses, use the Richie McCaw “versatile” thinking.
    Take good CARE of Anne.
    WILLY, KEEP SAFE.
    PIP.

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