Our first impression of the country was that it had even more poverty than Zimbabwe. The Mozambican government had removed most of the Portuguese population in 1975 and that shows now in the state of the colonial buildings which were left behind. Ever since, the country has had its ups and downs, but is still struggling today. We didn’t feel very welcome by the locals and they were situated everywhere along the few roads in the north of the country. This made wild camping basically impossible, sneaking a big red car into the bushes would build suspicion very fast. There were not many things to see or visit on the way, and the national parks that we did drive by, were too expensive for our budget. We basically drove 1300 kilometers from the Zimbabwean border at Mutare to Mozambique Island in two days.
Isla de Mozambique. The former capital of East Africa in the 19th century. Today it is full of history, palm trees, white beaches and a UNESCO world heritage site. We arrived in the evening so we decided to leave our visit to the island for the next day. Arriving at the camping site we were the only ones there but after finding the owner we were able to camp right on the beach. Soon after the sunset, the moon appeared on the horizon shining just above the long bridge to the island.
As you have noticed we get bored very fast, therefore we left in the afternoon. It left us a little impression of the African colonization history. I’m worried that a place like this will be soon drowned by tourism.
Instead of taking the main highway to Pemba, the next tourist destination, we took the shortcut. At some point one of the bridges was washed away and the temporary detour was through a school compound. Of course they wouldn’t allow the mzungu (white person) through without a payment of some sorts. At some point we were arguing with about 15 people and in the meantime all the locals were just driving in and out. Finally we find someone that speaks a little English and we manage to convince them we are not going to pay. The moment we driving out of the other side of the school compound we cross roads with 2 other white guys on the back of a motorbike. Now we don’t see many white people anymore so we stopped instantly to have a chat. It appeared they were working for the American Peace Corps teaching at this school we just drove through. Before we knew it were having cold beers next to a fire on a white beach with palm trees. They knew the area well and more importantly they spoke Portuguese. That made it a lot easier to talk to the locals and eased off the tension we usually received. We had a great evening sharing stories and in the morning we were welcomed by 2 giant lobsters from the local fishermen. Unfortunately they charged us an arm and a leg for it, so we didn’t have the fortune of tasting them.
We were so lucky to meet Tina and Klaus from shumba, they heard our story and were happy to donate their old laptop to us. We were amazed by their generosity and the likelihood we lost a laptop and received another one, only days apart. I hope they will read this because I cannot tell them thanks enough!!! THANK YOU!!! See their trip and website at http://www.shumba.eu/
At the same campsite we met an older Japanese couple having the same idea to visit Ibo Island. We decided to go together. We tried following them to make the ferry which was supposed to leave at 9 in the morning. They were flying with their new rental truck so we ended up being a bit later. The ferry didn’t leave until 12 in the afternoon but after 3 hours of sailing and motoring we arrived on Ibo Island. We were a bit struck by the island as the colony wasn’t even nearly as well maintained as the Isla de Mozambique. After a little walk around the island and a nice dinner at somebody’s house we decided to return to mainland the next day.
Luckily the way back didn’t take as nearly as long and we were back at our vehicles before we knew it. Unlucky this is when we noticed that one of our shocks had snapped trying to catch up with the flying Japanese. Not a big problem but we decided to just take things slowly until Dar Es Salaam now. We parted with the Japanese couple as they were going much faster than us. There was one more spot to visit on the way. Pangane, a spot recommended by the Japanese couple. The road was much rougher than we anticipated so when we arrived at the deserted paradise, things started creaking a bit more on the car.