Yes, this is what I mean. Monday morning I was clomping around at 3:15 AM getting ready to leave on the shuttle using only a flashlight as I didn’t want to turn on the light and wake other sleepers. I needed to take down my mosquito net in the dark and pack up my pack. Getting from my dorm room to the bathroom entailed stepping down (and up again) off a 24-inch step into soft sand. Then it was quite dark in between the buildings and so I was afraid of tripping on something. Falling is a constant danger on my mind, as there are jillions of opportunities to do that, and it would be a disaster! I made my way in a poorly lit area to the reception area. This is not to criticize this hostel, as their target market is NOT 79-year-old ladies!
At 3:45 I (finally) was able to wake the security person in the bar/restaurant area. Two other young men came to take the shuttle, as well. It came and we boarded right at 4:00 AM.
Much of the transportation is like this—in the middle of the night or just uncertain. When I inquired earlier how to get to my next destination, I was to take an early chapa to Inhambane, then walk out on the jetty and get a ferry to Maxixe, then walk straight up to town, through the market and MAYBE there would be a bus there for Vilankulo. When I was younger I did this stuff—I remember Ethiopia was quite like this. Now, however, it seems too difficult.
Preparing to leave the next day, I did take one more walk-around on the beach, which is sensational! The water is so pretty, the sand so clean and soft. It was worth coming here to see the ocean, even if I’m not much of a beachy person.
So I went back to Maputo (even this was an 8 ½ hour ride in a small bus) to get my ticket changed to go home early. The scenery was mildly interesting—we went through quite a few small towns and finally arrived at the bus depot in Maputo. We were put into a taxi and taken to Fatima’s Backpackers, where I got a dorm bed, walked out to Mimmos for dinner, and then took a nap!
A group of tennis players from Zambia and Botswana were my roommates. There is a well-regarded tennis tournament in Mozambique where these young people will play. One (on the right) was the defending champion from last year, although he said it would be hard to win the championship this year as the tournament attracts better and better players.
This same young man had gone to college at a state college in Louisiana, on a tennis scholarship. He described an incident with a policeman who stopped him to check his car license. He said that when he got his license in Louisiana, they had made a mistake and his birth date was one day different from his passport. When the officer checked it out, it passed muster, but he said he couldn’t drive until he got that fixed. He was with his girlfriend, who was white (maybe the reason that he got stopped?) and the officer said she would have to drive. She didn’t know how and didn’t have a license, but the officer insisted! So the young man helped her to drive away.
One night while sitting around in the hostel I made the acquaintance of a local artist named Villar. He had spent three years in New York on an artist exchange program. I asked him if he had any paintings displayed in the Nucleo de Arte, that I had enjoyed so much. He said that he did! So the next day I walked back there and found his—unfortunately it was one of the paintings that I liked the least—but what do I know!
Villar insisted that there was a Malangatana painting in the National Museum of Art. I couldn’t believe that I had missed it, so I also walked back to this Museum the next day and it WASN’T there. This time there were three men to ask. Apparently it has been moved.
It appears to me that most Mozambique women spend lots of time ‘in the chair.’ This is a reference to elaborate hairdos that take a great deal of time to execute. They are quite fascinating for their variety and creativeness. But it must take a lot of patience and money!
I had a dickens of a time changing my flights (4!) home, but finally managed. On Wednesday (and Thursday) I flew from Maputo to Addis Ababa, then to Rome, then to Toronto, and then to Minneapolis! Home at last!
So, what does this bailing out mean for my future traveling? The Lonely Planet had warned about difficult transportation in Mozambique, but I poo-pooed it, since I’ve done this before. However, I guess the years do take a toll, and from now on, I will probably not visit more of Africa, as the infrastructure just isn’t there. Still, I think lots of other places will be fine—at least in India you can get a bus or train anywhere, anytime without having to awaken in the dark and stumble around getting to the bus depot. And there are a few spots in Europe, especially Eastern Europe that I haven’t visited. (Easy-Peasy) So I’m expecting to visit eastern India in January/February—we’ll see.