Monday was a public holiday—don’t know what, but I decided to do the thing where you go to the fish market, buy a fish and then go around the corner to a small restaurant where they cook and serve it. Picking a fish is a tricky business, especially for tourists! I decided on one, and it was grilled at a next door restaurant. I suspect 20 years ago, this was a rewarding thing to do, and perhaps it still is for the locals, who know what they’re doing, but my fish was sort of mushy and the whole thing was expensive. The best thing about the meal was the local 2M beer! Still, the atmosphere was fun with its ‘holiday’ flair, so it turned out OK.
The next day was one of those times when expectations are low and yet one encounters a fun thing! I really only wanted to go for a long walk for exercise, but to have a place to walk to, I decided to go to the Nucleo de Arte, a place where ‘up and coming’ artists work and display. The display exceeded my expectations—it was much more enjoyable than the National Museum of Art—and I spent an interesting hour looking at the paintings. They were all for sale, too, with prices from about $300 to $2100.
Walking back a long ways toward Fatima’s Backpackers, I stopped in a familiar restaurant, Mimmos Eatalian (!) to have some pasta comfort food. The seafood pasta was OK and the white wine was drinkable, so all was well. I saw they had a motorbike at the ready to deliver pizza, too.
The next morning I was planning to take the shuttle from Fatima’s Backpackers to Inhambane, a town north of Maputo on the coast. It left at 5:00 AM, but turned out to be only a taxi to the bus station, as I was the only person going on the shuttle. Here, in the chaos that is all African bus stations at 5:00 AM, I was deposited into a small bus. On arriving I inquired what time it was going to leave and thought I heard, “7:30”! And yes, it was two more hours before we were full and could leave! Several vendors came by while the bus was loading. It was finally full with baggage piled upon the front seats and into the isle. There was a young ‘conductor’ that admirably managed the whole mess!
The ride was quite boring and uncomfortable with tiny seats and not much of interest to see, but after eight hours, we arrived in Inhambane, which is a nice town on the coast. I got a hotel room (solo, as when I asked for dorms, the clerk said that it wouldn’t be good as other people would be joining me in the other beds (!)—I guess he didn’t think that was appropriate) and settled in. Actually there wouldn’t have been any other dorm people anyway, so a regular room was nicer.
Inhambane is a town to my liking. It has very few tourists, yet enough to provide infrastructure, and not much poverty that I saw, anyway. It is three-sided by water, with boats constantly loading at the local jetty to ferry passengers across to Maxixe, (pronounced Ma-shee’-shee).
I stopped by a new fancy hotel to see if they had wifi, as the internet I had used the day before was difficult to use, and I prefer to use my own computer. I visited the local mosque and was invited in by the imam, after removing my shoes and having my head draped with a cloth. It appears that Mozambique has a variety of religions—Muslim, Christian Evangelists, and Catholic for starters. Continuing on, I came to an 18th C. Catholic cathedral, but it wasn’t open. Next door was a modern (1974) huge replacement.
I stopped for a cappuccino to rest a bit, then continued to the market. I bought a papaya and a knife to cut it with, as I’m now in a hotel with a restaurant, rather than a backpackers’ with a kitchen. The market had sternum-throbbing ‘music’ playing—a common occurrence in developing countries. Cashews are commonly on sale here, and tempting. So far I have managed to resist, as I know if I buy a bag, I will eat them all in a sitting. Actually I did bargain on a bag of them, but luckily the vendor wouldn’t meet my price! So hopefully, I will continue to resist.
The next day I visited the train station (it said it was ‘disused’); there were people in offices in there, yet the train tracks were covered with sand and obviously were ‘disused.’ Near the station was part of the university, which apparently rents some rooms for a hotel. I asked if I could use their wifi, and he said I could. Maybe someplace around here can work out for wifi, as I truly miss it.
I walked to the Regional Museum, which had some things on display regarding Portuguese colonialism, their independence and the slave trade. Very little was in English, but old pictures were fun to see and there was a wonderful boat on display, painted in colors very much like fishing boats that I saw in Porto, Portugal years ago.
*There is a lot of pedestrian traffic; when one meets oncoming, one goes left. For some reason I tend to go right, which messes up the whole procedure.
*Women commonly carry HEAVY bundles on their heads, balancing them while they walk along. I have read that this is very damaging to their necks and backs over time.
*As you would expect, everybody (locals and tourists) carries a cell phone. I noticed in signing in for a hotel, they asked for your cell number, rather than your home address!
Well, I finally got to use wifi at the University. It worked so much better than the internet service available—what a treat! I offered to pay, but nobody could figure out how, so it was gratis!
Saturday I left after breakfast and got a chapa (minivan) to go 23 km to Tofo, which is the big beachy scene. I’ve been in crowded vans in my life, but NEVER like this! At one time there were 30 passengers and two babies in this 14-person van. We stopped a million times and kept picking up MORE passengers! In the picture, these people are not just getting in—the van is moving and this is how they rode! A lady in a seat took the baby to hold—no wonder it took an hour to go 23 km (15 miles). But we made it to Tofo, and I walked a few blocks to Fatima’s Nest—the same company as has Fatima’s in Maputo.
The setting is exquisite! Yes, Mozambique does have beaches like no other! I got settled in a dorm bed and then looked around a little. I also inquired how to get to my next destination, as the Lonely Planet guidebook isn’t really clear. And transportation is tough in Mozambique. I’m wondering if I’m really up for the whole itinerary that I have laid out. We’ll see.
For my linner I was urged to try the lobster, which I did. Imagine my surprise when the platter arrived with three medium sized lobsters! Additionally, there were fries and a big salad. Well, I certainly got enough lobster, for today, anyway. The cost of the meal? $7.50, although this place is considerably cheaper than where else I’ve been. Then I had fried bananas for dessert.
Just now I’m listening to the most wonderful music, and it occurred to me that it sounded like Yosef N’Dour, and it IS! He’s Senegalese—I saw him perform in Dakar, Senegal in 1991. Apparently he’s still popular—I can see why—his music is so good. When I saw him he wore a yellow satin jumpsuit with a yellow satin maxi-coat over it—sensational!
As I was sitting on the terrace, relaxing, I saw a man point out into the water—it looked like maybe it was a whale, at a great distance. He said it was a whale—I tried to photograph it, but it was very far away, although I’ve got a good camera! And here it is! The staff says they are humpbacks.
The staff here are very nice—their native language is Batonga but they also speak Portuguese and some tourist English. The Batonga comes out so fast, it’s a wonder they can understand each other.
I’m going to take the shuttle back to Maputo in the morning (it leaves at 3:45 (!) as the transportation is just too challenging here in Mozambique, and maybe I am too old! I shall get my ticket changed and go home early.