Monday, August 9, 2010

Adventures off the Grid

Another day, another beach.  I wished all the goodness of my heart to the beautiful people I had met in Praia de Tofo, but it was time to move on. We headed North on the only good road in Mozambique and found shelter in Vilanculos. The road was getting progressively worse. We had weaved all over the road avoiding potholes that would have ripped axles, wheels and whatever it could have snatched, right off. We pulled into a little compound by the ocean to call home for a few days. The sight of an outdoor shower in the middle of the walled compound brought a smile to my face. As we had been camping by the sea, with no facilities to speak of in Praia de Tofo, a good scrubbing was in order. On checking in, it was suggested by the people that ran the camp to shower in the afternoon. A morning shower would be cold, as the large bucket was filled every morning. By afternoon, the water would have had a chance to warm up, therefore sun, soap and  sun-warmed water would cleanse our bodies and souls. Point noted. I luxuriated in a warm, sunlit soak later that afternoon and felt like a new woman.
First though, we stowed belongings in our quickly erected tents and went off to explore our new home. Again the locals seemed warm and friendly, with smiles offered from all we met. The charms of Mozambique were certainly working their magic on me. Unfortunately, other factors were working on Brett again though. Our first night there was a sleepless one for him, with little sleep attained by the rest of our travelling band, as we watched him writhe in pain. It was obvious that the kidney stones had not worked their way out yet. He needed to get medical attention. There was a small clinic in the village, but this would not be enough to help Brett.  The problem that we quickly discovered  was that there was not even a telephone here. The closest phone was in Inhambane, which was where we had left the day before; a full day’s drive away. We scrambled around town trying to figure out a course of action and discovered a small airstrip. Our hopes were dashed to discover a flight out, but full up. To charter a flight to Johannesburg would cost $1500 US and without a phone to call Brett’s health insurance company to get them to pay for the flight, it was a moot point. We did not have the cash between us to pay for it and that was the only method of payment they accepted. Brett could barely stand and had trouble catching a full breathe. It was decided that we would get him on the bus back down to Maputo where he could catch a flight to Johannesburg. Miki and I gave him money enough to get him there and prayed that he would be able to withstand the journey that led to salvation.
With teary eyes, we watched the bus depart headed South. In the hurried rush to get our ailing travelling companion attended to, we had made a rough plan. Brett would take the bus to Maputo, then continue on a flight to Johannesburg. We knew there that he would be able to find modern medical assistance to tend to his ills. Once recovered, he would make his way back up to Harare, Zimbabwe where we would reconnect. In the mean time, Miki and I, along with Oliver and a new Aussie travelling companion by the name of Rob, would make our way North. The dreaded highway towards Beira would be tackled and we would veer off towards Zimbabwe and eventually Brett.
Praying that Brett would be recovered soon, but knowing that we would have a stretch before we saw him again, we tried to distract ourselves by taking in the sights. We bumped into travellers that we had met back in Tofo, and they convinced us to take in a dhow excursion to Magaruque.  A dhow was described to us as a local sailboat. While it sounded enchanting, the day was not. The dhow was absolutely ancient and very tippy. The day was sunny and beautiful, but hot. We found shelter under beach umbrellas at a hotel in the middle of nowhere, but got run off by a very angry hotel manager. The next closest patch of shade did not accommodate the seven of us very well, so we moved on to snorkelling. It was magnificent, but we returned to our dhow captains dehydrated and severely scraped by coral, only to find that we had misunderstood our arranged meeting time. We had thought they had said 3pm, but were informed by the angry men that we were supposed to have returned at 13:00. Oops. With a new experience under our belts, we bid adieu to the day. A rough road lay ahead of us and we would need a good sleep to give us the strength to withstand the next leg of our journey.

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