Caross News

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Into Tanzania

Karibu! Is the greeting often used by Tanzanians, it simply means "Welcome!"

We have made to Zanzibar (at last!). Since leaving Mozambique Island our travels have taken us to Nacala, Pemba, Pangane, Mozambique de Praia, Rovuma River, Lindi, Kilwa, Dar and Zanzibar!

To all you diving enthusiasts Nacala is the place! It has awesome sunsets, huge corals, dolphins and masses of tropical fish. For the lucky ones they spot sunfish (we however did not) and apparently the whales come into the bay in the latter part of the year. I can only imagine how spectacular the whales would be.

At Moz de Praia, our bathroom facilities reached an all time high comprising, one bucket of water, a concrete slab and a garden hoe...

The Rovuma River crossing proved rather challenging and took 4 days to complete. The river is only half a km in width! We timed our arrival disastrously and arrived with the spring low tide for a ferry crossing that is very tide dependent. The locals, who arrive on foot, crossed in dugout canoes while we and our fellow vehicle bound travelers waited for higher water and the ferry.

While we waited for the waters to rise we camped in the bush at the waters edge, in no man's land, we had checked out of Mozambique but were not yet cleared into Tanzania. We were not alone. We Mzungu campers provided entertainment for the local children. A few other trvellers were stranded with us. There were 4 landcruiser campers from SA, a German couple, three chaps (Johan x2 and Phillip) with a boat in tow from Kempton Park. Viva the South Africans. Each group dealt with the situation in their own manner (we have many stories to tell!). Delegation skills, negotiation skills and basic survival skills were required! Mike Copeland needs to add a chapter in his book on how to crap in the bush - oh those flappy bits of loo paper! In the river the crocodiles kept us (Johan et al braved the waters) from swimming and at night the snorting hippos reminded us that we were next to an African river.

Caron began to build a toy car with scrap bolts and crushed cans and soon had a dedicated following of boys gathered round. Ross attempted to learn Swahili from the gathering. At times one could have thought that Caron had started a school next to the Landy.

Breakfasts comprised of chipatis from the local seller and marmalade from woolworths (thanks Rowan). Beers were procured using the underground network and good negotiation skills (thanks Johan et al).

The days were long and hot and everyone anxiously awaited the arrival of the ferry. Like sailors sighting land for the first time after months at see there was great excitement on the morning of its arrival. Binoculars were firmly attached to noses and eagle eyes watched the ferry approach. Half the group got on the ferry whilst the rest watched in total despair. That night the remaining few regrouped, braaied (thanks Johan et al), drank and consoled each other.

Finally crossing the river into Tanzania was sad, to leave behind the Rovuma and its children and so exciting, to be moving again. To arrive in Lindi was a revelation, electric lights, Coca Cola, chocolate biscuits and shops!

Terry (introduced to us by Johan et al) provided us with a home for a few nights while we caught our breath, did the washing and admin. He showed us the sights of Lindi and we feasted on prawns and lobster. We arrived as strangers and left as friends. Thanks Phillip, Johan x2 and Terry.

Tanzania is proving to be a whole new experience. Music plays on the ferries, markets bustle, organised tourism is alive and well, shops are full of supplies and people are very welcoming. The contrast between Moz and Tanzania is huge. Zanzibar buzzes and is alive with atmosphere.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mozambique - Maputo to Mozambique Island

Man this is trying with a browser set to ##Z!* Portuguese!!

Greetings from Mozambique Island! Ross and I are both well.

It has been a while since we updated our site. It has proven rather challenging to get to a internet café that is affordable and where our car is not at risk (we had attempted break ins at Inhambane and Maputo).

Bertha (our car) has had a rough ride so far. The roads have been muddy, water-filled (puddles better suited to a boat), she has been attacked by ants (mobile ant colony), almost stolen twice by Mozambican banditos but viva la landrover as she lives on!

Time is moving on and I cannot believe we have been in Moz for almost one month. The journey has been at times rather challenging. The roads have at times (most) proven rather challenging. Potholes, potholes and more potholes. We could write a book describing road surfaces. However, the people up north are full of smiles and greetings and thus has made the journey worth it. No speaka english but with a little sign language we seem to cope. The mosquitos are attacking me with vengeance despite a whole stash of armary. I hope the doxy is doing its thing!

We spent a wonderful couple of days in Quilimane. At first glance the town was a little rough but upon further investigation proved to be a wonderful experience. We stayed in a coconut plantation and walked into town (15km). Yep got to keep fit. We found a coffee and cake shop, did some grocery shopping (they had Ouma rusks but at R20 a box we gave them a skip), and did the old church photographing. On the way home we went the local way – on a bicycle carrier. Much giggling, pulling in of tummy muscles we made our way home. The locals joined us in giggles and often took several glances and greeted us with Bon Dia!

Illia de Mozambique for all its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has to be the dirtiest place that we have ever visited. 7000 People in a couple of square kilometres, limited sanitation, no garbage disposal. It is also a city of spectacular ruins, the buildings that the Portuguese left behind are not extensively used by its present residents, they live around them as they crumble. Fig trees spread their roots between the stone walls and explode cracks as they grow, no one does anything to stop this, it is a case of a living city in ruins.

Our visit to Gorongosa National Park was also the revelation of a living tragedy. During the war Renamo was based in the area, the destruction that is left makes Chitengo very eerie, you can only wonder at the mayhem and suffering that must have been. Wildlife is very depleted (the only display in the park office is an extensive and vicious collection of traps), but the birding is fantastic! We saw many new birds for the first time.

Just as a gentle reminder not to venture into the bush for a pit stop (Sally) we saw a group clearing landmines. Every place we went to in the south there were gentle reminders of this sad war. People moving around in wheel chairs and offices of support for survivors of landmines.
On the whole we have seen a country littered with broken bridges, unused buildings and ruins. It is "a country of ruins" where people buzz around doing their daily chores with a smile. Hopefully one day the land of ruins will come into its own and prosper.

From here we will begin our run into Dar es Salam (sadly we will miss the Francois´). We are likely to stop in at Pemba and Ibo, before we cross the Rovuma river into Tanzania. In Tanzania our first vist will be Kilwa before we head for the Zanzibar!