Mozambique or Bust

Spring 2008

With 1 week off at spring break, me, Lauritz, Lindsey, and Melissa decided to goto Mozambique on an absurdly long road trip. We heard of a tantalizing little town off a peninsula tip of Mozambique called Tofo, lush with untamed tropical rainforests and pristine beaches, that we decided would be our ultimate goal.

As we prepared to fly out of Cape Town International, we saw one of the greatest signs we have ever seen in an international airport:

Flying for just over 2 hours and around 1,300 kms later, we landed in Johannesburg and picked up our rental car, a trusty yet brand new Nissan Tilda.

We shot right out of Johannesburg for the border to Mozambique. We drove for over 5 hours to the hostel we were staying for the night before crossing into Mozambique.

The next morning, we woke up early to get to the border to cross into Mozambique. Little did we realize when we got to the border, that it wasn’t an orderly and logically coherent border crossing like you would expect somewhere more advanced. It was a confusing maze of offices and bureaucracy where everyone spoke Portuguese. Amidst our confusion, there was a man who acted as a middle man for tourists and got entry visas for the clueless like us.

He told us that if we gave him our passports and the fee he was charging, he could get us entry in no time. Foolishly or not, we trusted him and Laurtiz and I followed him to make sure our passports weren’t stolen. He barged his way in front of a lineup of people, chatted with a border guard, and magically got us stamps on the passport allowing entrance into Mozambique.

We had made it into Mozambique. Only having been in South Africa since arriving in Africa, I had not really seen a country that was still fully developing. South Africa has a strange duality of first world and developing world aspects everywhere you go. Mozambique was fully developing world.

Our first stop in Mozambique was to stay at a hostel in the capital, Maputo. As we bought new SIM cards at gas stations to get our Nokia brick cell phones to work in Mozambique, we slowly made our way into Maputo.

We made it to Fatima’s backpackers hostel after some confused zig zagging around Maputo.

All four of us grabbed some hammocks on the rooftop of the hostel and relaxed before the upcoming 500 km drive to Tofo the next day.

We did make it out into Maputo to check out the city later in the day. We didn’t take our cameras with us out of paranoia as we very much stuck out like sore thumbs as non-locals. We went to a mall complex in the downtown that was strangely new and upscale, but completely out of character with all of the surroundings. We went to the waterfront of the city. Everything I remember is that there were no tourists around except us. Everyone was Mozambican. On our way back to the hostel, we had a souvenir hawker who literally followed us for close to an hour aggressively pushing some wooden sculptures for us to buy from him. We made it back to the hostel in one piece, and being the confused foreigners we were, took solace in the oasis that this little backpacking hostel provided in terms of sanctuary.