Tales of travel gone wrong – Maputo to Tofo

Going abroad and travelling the world is full of its challenges and quips. It is the most rewarding experience but it can also be the most infuriating, frustrating and the most memorable part of your trip. So let me paint a picture for you of a road trip that lasted 500 kilometres and nearly 14 hours.

We left Maputo at around 5 or 6 AM to get to Tofo which is located 500km north of the African Jewel’s capital city. We set off together, two full cars and two members of our touring group on a bus directly to the backpackers inn where we would be spending 5 days partying, eating and lying on the beach sipping cocktails that became as hot as coffee in 5 seconds. En route to an awesome time.

We were just about 230km into the drive, so close to the halfway point when we get a phone call from our companions on the tour bus:

‘Two of the tyres have gone and the bus has no spare tyres.’

This was the sentence from hell! First of all, what kind of bus departs for a 500 km journey WITHOUT any spare tyres what so ever!? Also, what dumb luck this driver had, that of all the things he had to hit he decided to pop two tyres in one go. So back we went, two cars full of everything the two bus companions could not carry to locate this bus. We stopped by the bus emptied out one of the cars who took the bus driver and two tyres forward another 50km to find a place that either sold new bus tyres or could repair the tyres to drive back 50 km and then put the tyres on to then carry on. This little section of our adventure took long enough as it was, adding 2 and a half hours to our journey time by waiting in the sweltering heat. But no matter, we were pleased as we saved the day and were known as heroes for the remainder of our time in Tofo.

Yet you would think that this alone would be enough of a deviation from our initial plan. Oh no, there is more to come. Having saved a bus full of people and been deemed heroes, we still had around 300 km to get to our destination – yes because we had to go backwards to find this bus and that in itself took a while. And during the festive season it was quickly pointed out to me that police officers like a quick financial fix to add to their merry jolly end of year. It is apparently quite common – I can testify as I witnessed it – for officers to pull up cars who are on their long journeys to spend the festive season at the beach or to visit family and fine them for speeding, incorrect overtaking – a variety of things! And so as to not fill out paper work they can quickly solve the issue by asking for payment and the problem for the driver will simply disappear.

What a phenomenal thing to do for the officers but just our sheer luck one of our cars go stopped TWICE! Paid his fine and then in the second time got his license removed! Said police officer told our dear friend he had a pending fine from a previous journey in 2013 which had appeared in the system and he would have to find a local authority and pay it within 48 hours then contact the officer 200 km away from where we were heading to to go and collect his license. This is all too much at this point for my brain to deal with and as this situation unfolds our dear companions on their now repaired bus zoom past us.

Now I am a true believer in fate and destiny and in this occasion the timing could not have been better. Mr Bus Driver is related to the Police man! Having seen us in distress and one of our own about to have his license removed Mr Bus Driver quickly rang his cousin who at the time was still with us and told him about our bus situation. Not only did our friend get his license back he didn’t have to pay a second fine!

Happy days! The heroes heroically saved by the original victims and we were now on our merry way to the backpackers inn. Nearly 14 hours later we arrived at our destination and it all seemed worth it to dip my toes in the warmest sand I had felt since the Philippines and to dive into the warm clean waters of the Indian Ocean.

No travel adventure comes without its ups and downs, however it is all worth it once you arrive there and these mishaps often make for the best memories. We for example got free drinks for 3 nights of partying thanks to saving the tyres of a bus that was owned by the backpackers inn we were lodged at. It was phenomenal and that road trip was part of a brilliant trip. What felt like a truly awful journey actually has turned out to be one of my fondest memories and stories from that trip and with this I move on from Mozambique to my up and coming city break.

Happy travels and reading!

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Maputo, Africa

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the Tofo section of my African adventure, well it now time to share with you my adventures through the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo.

A bit of historic background

Mozambique was a Portuguese colony that then became a Portuguese province and state of Portugal, finally gaining its independence in 1975. The country which is 9 years from celebrating its half a century anniversary of independence, continues to be working through its political circumstances and according to many locals, there is still a great disparity in conditions offered to both classes in society. In fact a class system is very much still in place which is sometimes quite an odd experience.

In architectural terms, it is like walking into 70’s Lisbon with a mix of modern buildings. Ruins everywhere, buildings falling apart at the seems, but always reminding you that it was a colonial area. It is absolutely a home away from home for me, it felt so familiar yet so distant from everything I know and love.

Museums

I had the chance to visit two beautiful museums whilst out there. Granted in London we have some of the biggest and most renowned museums, the National Art Gallery, the Tate, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the Science Museum and I could go on and on until we have covered every nook and cranny of history and culture in the capital. However, nothing is more charming and original than the Art Museum in Maputo.

We are not allowed to take photos of any of the paintings inside, but it was stunning. Many of the paintings depicted the struggle and strife of the black community with dreary dark colours that made the spectator sense the suppression. Others were very bright and reminiscing of the colours of Africa, the bright and varied scheme depicting traditional scenes as well as modern African life. A small but truly fantastic and captivating selection of art.Below you can see a small selection of photos of its exterior.

I also got the opportunity to go to the Natural History museum, which I could completely recommend to everyone for the following 2 reasons:

  1. The ONLY museum in the world that shows the fetus progression of an elephant – with real fetuses
  2. The entire section of the museum which shows the development of Tribes in Mocambique. Honestly the most interesting section with real objects of their lives.

All the animals in the museum are stuffed, as in actually using their skin and skeleton, toes and teeth. It is a fascinating jungle to visit and learn about the species that roamed the Mozambican territory.

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Gardens

As I mentioned on my previous post about Tofo, I did not expect Mozambique to be such a green country. Naturally one of the things I enjoyed most during my stay was to roam to city gardens and get lost in their beauty. I got the opportunity to visit the Jardim Tunduru and the Jardim dos Namorados (lovers garden.) Note, do not go to the lovers gardens with two other couples, I found myself playing photographer for four hours and seriously considering jumping off the cliff in which the garden is located down to rocky seas below. The Jardim dos Namorados is also located close to the Miradouro – which is at the top of a cliff with a spectacular view of both the city and sea surrounding it.

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Historical Buildings

Aside from the museums, I always like to visit historical buildings. They often hold small exhibitions in these spaces that give you some context and sense of political history and how it has shaped the country you are currently visiting. Here are a few of the buildings I loved and would recommend you visit:

  1. Fortaleza – the fortress built by the Portuguese settlers. It is small but ripe with Portuguese influence and pieces of history. Canyons and ammunition galore as well. Also an awesome place for gorgeous views to the sea.
  2. Caminhos Ferreos de Maputo (CFM) – this building is STUNNING. It is the old railway, home to still some functioning train lines, but now mostly used for merchant lines rather than service lines. It has some old steam trains on display, a little history section and some awesome restaurants, check it out.
  3. A Casa de Metal – the metal house, one of 7 around the world by Gustave Eiffel, it is said that these buildings were all built and transported exactly as they are across the world. It is a tin house basically but it is very cool and again there is a small museum section that shares the history of the house itself as well as the city of Maputo – located next to the Tunduru Gardens
  4. Igreja da Polana – Polana church, very close to Feima (Feira de Maputo) it has a unique structure and it just a beautiful building. At night the light shines through its 8 axis of stained glass windows and it looks mesmerising.

Taking Africa home with you

If you are the sort of person who visits a place and absolutely has to take it home with you, you have to visit FEIMA, the arts and crafts fair with EVERYTHING Mozambique. I visited during the holiday period and felt it was only right to take presents home that were Mozambican themed, plus a batique or two (the paintings in tapestry that you see below) to hang on my walls. Our home is such an eclectic mixture of decorations as my parents and I are all globe trotters, that a bit of southern African artisan pieces fit very nicely.

GO TO MOZAMBIQUE

It is historical, it is gorgeous, green and full of inviting people. I think it was mostly made by the fact that I was surrounded with friends who are locals and knew exactly what they were talking about. I could not believe how little money I spent there, so in terms of a flight and visa it might cost a bit of money but staying in Mozambique and enjoying Mozambique to its fullest, eating out etc, it works out as a very accessible and cheap holiday full of opportunities for everyone to experience. It is a beautiful place with beautiful people and I don’t feel I got my complete fill of it. So I am already plotting my return in 2017/2018. Keep your eyes peeled for two more posts on Mozambique before I put this adventure behind me for a while and move on to the next travel adventure. 

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Bluebottle Jellyfish – Discovery Friday

Another Friday, another flashback and another discovery to share with you guys. This is a little jump back to my most recent trip to Mozambique where I had the pleasure to encounter these for the first time.

These little bad boys are known as Garrafa Azul, Bluebottle Jellyfish or the Portuguese man’o war – yes the Portuguese got in there and named them that because they look like a typical Portuguese ship as it is ready to set sail.

These little things look glorious on the sandy white beaches, the blue rays of these animals decorating the shore in such a beautiful yet dangerous way. It is enticing almost, my friend and I had never seen one before and got really close until warned by another friend that we shouldn’t touch them.

It is said that the sting of a bluebottle feels like someone is slicing your skin and muscles open with a butchers knife… not something I would like to experience, but they do look amazing! How mother nature has made such a beautiful world filled with stunning creatures.

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This amazing photo of a Bluebottle on the beach in Tofo, Mozambique, is credited to my amazing friend Dárcio Essá, who dabbles in nature photography and has some breathtaking shots. Thank you for letting me use your image. Please click here to see some of his incredible photos.