Mozambique Part I: The Indian Ocean tried to steal my bikini

It’s nearly 3AM, dancing in the waves, singing Bob Marley with Fatima staff and residents and the Indian Ocean is trying to tear my dress off—slow down there Mr. Ocean we just met. When in Mozambique, hang onto your clothes.

This all started after yet another tearful goodbye (and many more to go).  My parents left Anja, Demis and I at Pretoria Backpackers where we would spend the night, get our visa, and take the night bus to Maputo. Walking around in the rain to buy some groceries, I mistook the sounds of a car gurgling for a frog—Oh how strange it is to be in the city again.

After paying a hefty fee for the visa (750 rand! 600 if you’re Dutch, and apparently 400 if you’re Australian and go in October) and buying a tent (170 rand!) we caught our night bus to Maputo—packed, boarded and slept…until our pit stops at 11pm, 1 am and however more I didn’t wake up for. Around 3:30AM, we were awoken to present our passports at the border for exit: Goodbye South Africa! Fifteen minutes later, present again for entry with dawn peeking out and the eerie ululations from a mosque nearby. Confused, tired and half dreaming, we arrived in Maputo around 5:45AM and walked 1.6km to Fatima’s Backpackers, checked in, set up our tents and was ready for the day by 7AM (Protip: when travelling in Africa, bring a tent since it’s WAY cheaper than a dorm—80 rand for a night instead of 350). In a haze, the day felt like two, with an afternoon nap and early to bed—a relatively uneventful day with a quick stop at the quaint Museum of Geology.

The following morning, we caught our minibus/shuttle at 5AM to Tofo:  a long 8 hour and crunched journey with so many starts and stops, unloading and loading of passengers, annoyed sighs, apologizing a million times for my unfortunately shaped box army backpack (that sat on the lap of a patient Mozambican citizen for 6 hours) and watching the driver get a ticket for speeding. Half the time, I spent curved over, forehead nestled in the crook of my elbow on the seat in front of me trying to nap and ignoring my legs going numb. Along for the ride were some locals as well as another Dutch couple, Chilean couple (so many couples!) and a Canadian—all exploring Africa; all passing through.

Upon arrival at Tofo’s Fatima’s Backpackers, the view made up for the uncomfortable journey: white sand, blue water and sun—my first view of the Indian Ocean, or any ocean, in months! For those of you who know me well, I can’t help but jump into water whenever I see it.  Located right on the beach, this is going to be heaven—all I’m missing is a cute, climbing, motorcycle-riding explorer biologist (or Lady D aka Diana aka Car Bomb Biker Queen J ) on my arm and a pint of Honey Moon (Blue Moon’s summer ale)—although the Mozambique beer Laurentina is pretty darn good.

In the afternoon, we ran into the ocean (it’s warm! Not oh-my-God-did-someone-pee-near-me-warm but comfortable, cozy warm) after buying some pineapples and mangos for the next day’s breakfast—the fruit here is so good and so cheap! Sea salt on my lips, sand between my toes, jumping in the waves—I didn’t want to get out. Even when I felt nauseas from swallowing so much saltwater and with knees scraped from being pushed into the sand wave after wave.

With a seafood dinner (Lekker!), hot evening, so many bug bites (but armed with malaria pills), hello to our Brazilian neighbor, meeting a group of Americans (first Americans I’ve met since Brandi at the Barn my first week here), MORNING swim, we set off for our “Ocean Safari” to hopefully swim with manta rays, whale sharks and dolphins. Everyone helped push the boat into the water with ladies jumping in first. The waves crashed over as the men scrambled in and we set off, fingers crossed.

Nothing,

Absolutely nothing but the turbulent waves, seafoam and endless, endless oceans. So sad, we headed back in. Luckily, Peri-peri promises that if you don’t see anything, you can go back as many times until you do.

In the evening, chatting with the staff on where to go in Mozambique, one free drink turned into another…and another…until finally I put my foot down—“I have to get up at 7AM to go snorkeling and I get seasick”—but not before a quick night swim in the ocean.

“Why do you want to go swimming?”

“I’ve never swam in the ocean at night.”

Alright let’s all head out then. Don’t worry, I was very sober and operating on what my ex-boyfriend enviously called my “natural high”: Pure happiness also commonly expressed in the form of giggle fits.

The next morning, the heat woke us up at 7AM and the water was just begging us to come back in. We waited as the weather turned sour and the boat was cancelled for the day. With such little time to get across Africa, Anja and Demis decided to head north to Vilankulo instead of waiting another day and I decided to follow them for one more city (after arranging a snorkeling trip with Peri-peri when passing through Tofo on my way back to Lajuma). We hopped on a minibus crammed with 16 others and headed to catch a ferry (more like a tiny, rickety old boat) and then another cramped minibus (this one had seats for 5 but we had 10). Everyone is continually entertained by my unfortunate box backpack that makes me look like a hunchback or a turtle that has learned to walk on its hind legs.

Sweaty from the humidity, we finally arrived at Zombie Cucumber where we will stay for a couple days before splitting ways: Anja and Demis north and me…south? Either way, I’m terrible with goodbyes.

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