April 02, 2008 GMT
Sun, Sand, Stealing. OH and Pot Holes!

EN1 - Main Highway of Mozambique

We spent almost one month in Mozambique. In that time covering over 2,000 kilometres. We were robbed, bent the front wheel rim, had our first fuel injection problem and discovered the worst paved road we have been on. On top of all that, we counted approximately 3,200,270 individual pot holes on the main EN1 highway from South Africa, Komaliport/Ressano Garcia border, to Malawi, Zobue.

If you don’t believe us you can count them yourself!

Boys will be Boys

However, when you think of Mozambique two thoughts spring to mind: 1 – a country ravaged for nine years by civil war, 2 – calm, crystal clear warm waters with palm lined beaches and there is plenty of evidence of both.

Land Mine Clearance Program - Inheritence of the civil war
It costs $1 to put in a land mine and $1,000 to remove it

After crossing the border of South Africa you immediately know you are in a completely different country. The people are working market stalls, cooking on the side of the road. An exciting mish mash and bombardment of sights sounds and smells.

North of Maputo

We passed through Maputo, with it streets named during a by-gone era. Avenida Mao Tse Tung, Avenida, Vladimir Lennin and Rua da Resistencia. Maputo is the largest city in Mozambique, its dusty dirty garbage strewn streets have an air of a passing ticker tape parade with food wrappers and papers being whipped up in the air by the off shore breeze.

We drove for an hour and a half through Maputo’s streets looking for a functioning ATM, but to no avail, and ended by organizing a cash advance from a friendly filling station owner before heading north.

Fishermen - Xai-Xai Beach

The isolated Xai-Xai (Shy-Shy) and Praia do Xai-Xai are quite unappealing with little to no services and very few accommodation options. Generally the people in the town were unfriendly and the feeling did not auger well for our journey further north.

Anyway, we set up tent in the Praia do Xai-Xai Acarpamento meeting David, Stella and Annalise from South Africa, there for their Easter Weekend break.

David mentioned to Grant over lunch the following day “Hey, I’ve got two quad bikes, one for me and one for Stella, do you want to go out for a ride?

Hell yes!” Grant exclaimed like an excited child and within milliseconds was ready to go.

We LOVE playing in the sand - David

It was awfully good fun and within minutes Grant was finding the deepest possible beach sand to scream over. At last sand riding had become fun!

The boys visited a once exclusive luxury resort, gutted then abandoned during the war sitting derelict overlooking a beautiful deserted beach now home to a few local squatters.

Ancient Mozambique Ruin circa 1960AD - Xai-Xai Beach

Hooning around the sand dunes and having a whale of a time Grant may have become a little too enthusiastic with the little 150cc machine and snapped the drive chain on a steep dune climb.

The tow home

So, David with, no spares on board and ten kilometers down an isolated beach, needed to charge back to camp and organize a tow. Fortunately on the way back, to Grant, he met a fellow rider with a 4x4 quad and the day was saved.

Attempting to fix the quad

In the evening we all sat down to a fantastic braii and a few drinks. A fun filled time with great company we all toddled of to bed at the ‘late’ hour of 9:30!

Upon awakening we noticed something different in the vestibule of our tent. Low and behold, all our clothes were missing, as too Julie’s motorcycle jacket AND a bag of muesli. We had been robbed while we slept!

'I dont have any more clothes!' - new from the catwalks of Mozambique

Robbery - a new first on our trip.

David, Stella and Annalise were very supportive and Stella gave Jules a rain jacket to keep her dry, at least until she can purchase a new one. We appreciated their kindness and friendship greatly. Thank you guys.

Steeellaaaaaa! - as in Marlon Brando in 'Streetcar'

Deciding Xai-Xai was not the place for us we decided to try our luck in Tofo, 350 kilometers north.

Leaving late from Xai-Xai, Grant became concerned about the traveling time to Inhambane. Oh we do hate arriving in towns after sun set. So with the road seeming good and our velocity increasing we were introduced to the Mozambique Pot Hole.

Road to Tofo

Now most pot holes are just, well you know, pot holes, generally speaking if you do hit one you are just going to crash your suspension out big time. Mozambique Pot Holes are different. Not only do they seem to plummet to the centre of the earth, they often are the size of a swimming pool and quite numerous.

Local Life - Tofo

As we cornered, the road deteriorated badly and instantly. Grant stood up, pulling at the handle bars as we crashed over a deep hole. It was all a little too fast and a little too late as the wheel dived to axle deep, re-emerging with a dull thud of something metallic bending.

OUCH.... oooh yuck

Hmmm!!! We slowed as a distinct wobble appeared in the front end. Inspection proved Grants fears true. We had bent the front rim, the first time on our travels. A tube was put in the tyre as the tubeless tyre no longer sealed.

Left or Right which looks better?

Heading off into a mounting rainstorm to Tofo with it’s stunning beaches, we gave Fatima’s Nest a wide berth due to their unfriendly and rude behavior and travelling 2 kilometers further up the sandy track settled on Bamboozi a much better option.

Bonny and Mike

Low and Behold, there was Bonny and Mikes truck, whom we had met in Namibia. It was great to catch up with them. Telling them of our unfortunate luck further south they donated two T-shirts and socks (Grant had been wearing plastic bags as socks on his feet all day).

Sea Food dinner

Sharing wine, seafood and fun we had a great time, though Mike may have over indulged the Southern Comfort as he suddenly left us mid conversation about tasting local rum in the bathroom.

Boa Noite Senhor Michael

We arrived in Villankoulos and after one hour of riding around deep sandy tracks looking for accommodation, why in heavens name did they build this place on a beach, found Smugglers, for a bit of luxury and no camping.

Dhows (Portuegese fishing boats) - Villankulos Harbour

Jules does her check of the rooms and pricing and we both agreed, while Grant attempts to start Miss Piggy to ride to the car park. Attempt was all that happened as ignition turned on the F1 fuel injection lights flicker on warning ominously of an electronic problem.

Tootsies on the Dhow

No ignition…. Shit a brick!’ Grant immediately thinks ‘Now let’s not panic shall we.’ As he took a deep breath and turned the ignition off. Resetting, turn the ignition key on, same diagnosis. Grant presses the starter motor button which winds over nicely, but no start with F1 lights flashing continuously. We turn everything off and wait a nervous minute. Turn key back on and woo hoo fault signal disappears.

Kids on Bazuruto Island

The next morning all seems well with the bike as we charge around town doing jobs. After purchasing computer connector spray Grant puts aside the afternoon to disassemble all the obvious electrical systems that effect that fault diagnosis and examines and cleans all, even unplugging the ECM (Engine Computer Management System), which interestingly is manufactured by Mitsubishi, and cleans it thoroughly. All is well now.

Jules - Tofo Beach

Living in Australia we are terribly spoilt by beautiful waters and idyllic beaches and when people from the countries we have visited brag about their beaches we, sadly, have found them a little ho-hum. However, all cynicism aside, Mozambique possesses some of the most incredibly lovely beaches combined with delicious warm waters that rival any in Oz.


Posted by Julie Rose at April 02, 2008 03:29 PM GMT

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