Claudia, Peter, Lasse & Sil discovering the world

Mozambique - Part 2

On our last day in Covane Community Lodge, Tinus asked us if we would like to accompany them on a ‘real’ 4WD-trip into Limpopo NP. Tinus had to do some maintenance work at a remote 4x4-camp and his car was fully loaded. He did not want to go with just one vehicle on this rough track, but we guess that the kids playing so well with each other also played some role. We happily agreed, and embarked on our first real outdoor tour, to this 4x4 camp without any facilities or personnel, and which, in the words of the locals, “was very much liked by lions”…..

The ‘road’ was bumpy and slow, often not more than 2 tracks in the knee-high grass. Sometimes a nice riverbed-crossing, but else it was quit boring to be driving slowly over such bad roads. Underway we were called up on the radio by a group of 4x4 campers as we passed their camp. We made a short stop-over at their camp. They were on a marketing trip for Conquerer, a company that specializes in 4x4 trailers and caravans. The owner, management and chief designer were all present, as well as some journalists from specialized 4x4 magazines. We were immediately offered a cold beer and soon found out that most of these Afrikaners had relatives in Holland and one was even married to a German. It was nice, though, to see these people being proud of their products. The chief designer assured us that for all models, unfolding and setting up would not keep you longer than 10 minutes from your first cold beer. Probably the most important design-rule for the company, judging from the way its management looked.

We pushed on another 3 hours and arrived at our destination after about 8 hours driving, in the dark. There, at Mamba Pan, we stayed 3 nights, enjoying the nice weather and leisure time, while Tinus and his two helpers, Peterson and Cedric, were making repairs. Peterson and Cedric also did all the cleaning and washing up after dinner. However, this did not feel right to us, so we started to do the washing up ourselves. On the day of our return, the weather was cloudy and not so hot, which made our long trip somewhat more pleasurable. The kids took turns in our car and that of Tinus. The last night at Covane we slept in a luxury chalet, which was paid for by Ronelda, as a thank-you for our assistance on the trip. How very nice. The next morning we exchanged contact details, said many good-byes and went on the road again, heading for Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

In Maputo we first tried a back-packers hotel, but we could not find the owner, so we went to the other side of the road to Hotel Escola Andalucia, an very nice, old-style, once luxurious, but now run-down hotel and school. We negotiated a good price (only to find out that the price on the bill was higher than agreed) and enjoyed the dark wooden floors, staircases, old-fashioned elevator (especially Lasse and Sil enjoyed that one) and our two room en suite. But most of all we enjoyed the students behind the reception desk, who did not speak one word of English (and made no effort to try and understand what we want either), but went in panic to the back-office to fetch the manager on duty. We spent a lot of time walking the streets of this beautiful city, which still showed the signs of neglect from the war, but which was gradually picking up. Lots of art made from remnants of the war (chairs made from old guns). The people were relaxed and we felt safe. One of our favorite places was Café Mundo, where the boys could play on the trampoline, while we were enjoying fast Internet. A good combination. We tried to get an extension of our visa for South Africa at the embassy, but without success. We did have to pay 500 Mts to a corrupt police officer because Peter crossed a continuous line while finding a parking spot….. In the hotel we met David, an Irish American, who had been travelling for 4 months to make up his mind about what to do with the rest of his life. We had very enjoyable discussions during breakfast, and shared the problem of the South African visa. He fell in love with a girl in Maputo, so he solved his visa-problem by lengthening his stay in Maputo.

Our last stop-over in Mozambique was Ponta d’Ouro, the most Southern village right at the border with South Africa. It was a beautiful spot, white beach, high waves, warm and clear water, but thoroughly ruined by holidaying South African. The place was packed with diving schools, compressors were running continuously during the day to fill all the diving bottles, and at night there would be loud music from the diving camp. There appeared to be no respect between the South Africans on holiday and the local people. Not a good vibration in the air. We enjoyed the beach and the sea, but decided not to lengthen our stay (very unusual) and head for Swaziland.

The road back to Swaziland was heavy; we took about 4 hours over a 130 km stretch of heavy sand. Once we nearly got stuck in the deep sand, but luckily we managed to reverse the car to a patch of solid sand again. We were nearly relieved to hit tarred road again, but the first big potholes (Mozambican roads are infamous for them) brought us back to reality again. See you in Swaziland….


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