Friday, July 17, 2009
- Vilankulo - added by Roxy
Unfortunately Nature has its eccentricities, and what should have been a couple weeks spent in paradise was rather the never ending search for the sun! Apparently we had brought the bad weather with us, so found ourselves spending inordinate amounts of time huddled indoors gazing longingly out the window, dreaming of sunny skies and good surf. We knew this had the potential to be paradise, so were willing to wait it out, but after two weeks we came to the conclusion that at some point we were going to have to move north. Luckily the skies did eventually clear, so we were able to take advantage of paradise, getting in some snorkelling with Whale Sharks, diving with Manta Rays, and some barely noticeable improvements to our surfing technique.
Even bad weather can't but a dampener on everything though, and our time in Tofo was made special by some super people. Three people in particular made it great fun, oddly these are three people we had met in Nelspruit in South Africa only a few weeks before. Hailey and Jazz, thanks a mil for showing us around your beautiful town, taking us into your home and making us feel so welcome. Thanks too for the awesome local food, hooking us up with the diving, and for so many great laughs. We also spent some time with an American traveller called John who is on a backpacking mission to visit every country in Africa! We met John a number of times at the internet cafe (I'm not sure that you can call it that actually, as the internet never worked... but don't dare complain about this to the proprietors, they don't take kindly to that... they do take kindly to your cash though!) and exchanged tales of our travels. One afternoon John was regaling us with a description of an awful Mozambican wine he had found in the market, it was so vile that after a single sip he just couldn't bring himself to continue. This foul liquid, combined with the fact that the wine comes in a round plastic bottle, was then christened the 'wine grenade'. A few days later we'd invited a few people to come and join us on the beach for a prawn potjie. Much to our amusement, John, being the ardent backpacker he was, clearly couldn't bring himself to throw the wine grenade away, so rather brought it along, presenting it to us with a reverence better reserved for a '68 French Bordeaux. Luckily he had also brought along a better offering, so we let him get away with it. Duly our guests arrived, the evening wore on and we had a fantastic party on the beach.
There was one uninvited local character who joined the party (we thought he was a friend of Jazz's, Jazz thought he was a friend of ours) and proceeded to have the time of his life, taking one of the best chairs (forcing one of the others to make a chair out of sand), eating the potjie and quaffing our booze. Over time it became clear he was an interloper, so Steve thought it pertinent to pass on the wine grenade. He surprised us all by downing the entire wine grenade with some relish! Soon the effects of the grenade took hold, and he made himself very useful, spending a great part of the remainder of the evening climbing trees to collect wood for the fire, almost killing himself in the process. The fire raged on though, so thanks whoever you were!
We bade farewell to Tofo and headed for Vilankulo, the next beach paradise north. Time and again we are pleasantly warmed by the friendliness of strangers we meet on our travels. On our way up the coast we stopped to fill up with diesel and met a South African guy called David at the pump. Barely three words were exchanged before David had invited us to come and stay at the lodge he's in the process of building. It is these unexpected chance offerings that make a trip like ours so interesting, offering new experiences off the beaten track. We spent a fantastic evening with Dave and Anne, who have a huge beach-front property literally smothered in palm trees and with sublime views. Unfortunately family planning went slightly awry, and the arrival of their baby boy three months ago means they will not be able to finish the lodge, and are now looking to sell it on. Anyone looking for a half-finished lodge with 750m of beach-front in paradise, let me know and I'll put you in touch!
The very next day we had gone barely 5kms up the road, and met another stranger at another petrol station, and would you believe it, were invited back to his lodge! Again we delayed our arrival in Vilankulo, heading instead to Morrongulo. Unfortunately we never quite made it to the lodge, as Songololo's lofty heights came up against some hefty trees blocking the way through, so this time we had to turn back. C'est la vie, perhaps 5km further we'll meet another stranger and go on a different adventure?
We did eventually make it to Vilankulo, to behold the crystal clear turquoise water and incredible white beaches. The highlight for us was heading out to one of the islands offshore, part of the Bazzaruto Archipelago, where we snorkelled along the reefs and ate a superb seafood lunch on the beach.
On the way back to the mainland we saw a small dhow heading back after a day out fishing, and the locals showed us their catch, imploring us to buy some fish. After a quick powwow we decided a fish braai was definitely on the cards, and beckoned them over. With the wind fairly gusty, attempting to bring the two dhows alongside proved tricky for the skippers, and just as we thought we'd safely joined up, a gust sent our much larger dhow's boom straight through the fishermen's sail, ripping the delicate plastic it was made from to tatters! Naturally we couldn't leave them stranded, so passed a rope over and towed them to shore. We felt terribly guilty, and the fishermen didn't seem too chuffed either!
Vilankulos is arguably the most popular tourist destination in Mozambique, and unfortunately this has brought along with it some undesirable effects. Petty theft is rife, and in our 2 days there, 3 people staying in the same campsite as us were robbed! I think perhaps we are a little more aware after coming down the west coast, or perhaps we're just lucky, but either way we managed to visit the market several times unscathed, and didn't ever feel threatened. We were certainly hassled, but it wasn't anything we haven't seen before. Not wanting to push our luck though, and sensing the locals weren't nearly as friendly as in other areas of Mozambique, we decided to push on.
Our next stop will be Zimbabwe, where some of Steve's extended family still live. I was really looking forward to seeing for myself what on earth is going on in that country. Over the past few years there has been very little good news coming out of there. Keep thumbs crossed that Mugabe's regime doesn't try to annex Songololo!