Hi everyone! Finally I can put up my next blog! I have now finished my placement in Ingwavuma and can actually get internet access! I will try and get up to date with all of my blogs asap!

For now, here is my next blog, ‘Tales and Stories from Mozambique!’ Enjoy!

Wednesday 23 September 2009
For the second time since I have been in South Africa, we were going to Durban, this time, for the September school holidays! It took us five hours and one petrol/toilet stop before we arrived. We were dropped off on the corner of a main intersection, left to hail a taxi down. The only thing was, there were no taxis in sight! To make matters worse, it was overcast and drizzling with rain! We decided to start walking and hope that we would soon see a taxi. It was almost funny; here we were, with all our luggage (Jesse and Eliza had their big backpacking bags which would have looked very tempting for any thieves near by), walking up the middle of the medium strip, in between two directions of busy traffic, in the cold and wet! At one stage we passed a school. A group of girls asked if we were part of the ‘Amazing Race!’ I wish!

Thursday 24 September 2009
…We had dinner at Ushacka Marine World, at Moyo’s restaurant. The restaurant was very nice. When we had taken our seats, a lady came around to paint our faces. She used white paint and a stick to draw a floral pattern with dots on my cheek. We were then brought a bowl of water and towel to wash our hands with! The staff were excellent; they even had dancers who came out to perform to its guests a couple of times throughout the night!

Friday 25 September 2009
This morning we took the Baz Bus to Swaziland, our next holiday stop! It was a seven hour journey and we only stopped for petrol and lunch.

Saturday 26 September 2009

… Nikki and I went on a game drive at Hlane Game Reserve today! The night before, the worker at the backpackers booked a tour for us, which totalled approximately R900 each. This is just over $100 which we thought was pretty good as it included transport to and from the reserve, game park entry, a 2 hour game drive, 2 hour game walk and a braai.

We got picked up this morning by some random dude in a car who we were meant to give all our money to upfront! I wasn’t keen on doing this, so Niki and I agreed to wait until we had sussed everything out upon arrival at the reserve – after all, shouldn’t we be giving the money to the staff at the game reserve and not the driver!?

When we arrived, we paid for the entry fee and gave the driver R50 for petrol. We asked him where our tour guide was, as he was supposedly meant to meet us at reception…he never showed up, so Niki and I went to the counter and asked to pay there. It ended up only being R170 for a 2 hour game drive!

We saw HEAPS of rhinos, elephants and impalas, one lion and some eagles. It was amazing to see the lion!!! We didn’t see any zebras, which I was a bit disappointed about, nor did we see any giraffes. I wasn’t so disappointed about this as I don’t think ANYTHING can compare to the twelve giraffes we saw walking across the road on our way out to our placements in July!

After the game drive, Niki and I waited for the driver to pick us up. He said he would be back at 4:00. It was now approximately 3:30 and we hadn’t done the walk because we never even came across the tour guide who was meant to be taking us. Niki and I were glad that it worked out this way, however – a two hour game drive is plenty long enough – and it also meant we spent a lot less money!

All in all, Niki and I paid R170 each for the game drive, which is less than $30, plus R50each for petrol.

Upon our return, however, the guy who organised it for us, asked how our day was. We said it was great and just as we went to go to our room, he said, “so I’ll just get the money off you later this evening?” To cut a long story short, he thought we had done the tour we had initially organised. When we told him that we didn’t because the tour guide never showed up etc, he still seemed confused. The guy who owns the car that transported us then arrived and started ranting on about the money we owe him. He guy was going on about how we used his car and we were meant to pay the whole R900 blah, blah, blah. There was NO WAY I was giving him the money – we had paid for what we had done – end of story!

Eventually, I said that we would give him another R50 each for petrol. When we arrived home from the game reserve, the driver hadn’t asked us to give him anything for the trip home. I did ask, but he said no. Nevertheless, I thought we probably should have given him something.

Eventually the guy gave in and accepted the R50. I am just so glad we didn’t hand all of the money over first thing that morning!

…It was then time to head to ‘House on Fire’ which is a chilled-out music stage, for a concert called ‘Mango Groove Live on the Lawn.’ The arena reminded me a little of the Parklands showground during the Big Day out – the performance was outside and everyone stood on the lawn. The audience included both young and old people and the music was sung by an older lady who had a very chilled out, jazzy-styled voice…

Sunday 27 September 2009

This morning we were taken to Mozambique by the dodgy guy from the backpackers for R300 each. …once arriving in Mozambique, we walked down the road for some lunch. I ordered a vegetarian pizza and paid for it using eftpos as EVERY ATM we went to draw money out of (keeping in mind we had no money on us because we were in a new country with a new currency – Metcash) was out of service! This meant that we could not pay for a taxi to take us to the markets where we had planned to buy local crafts. It also meant we HAD to find somewhere for lunch that accepted eftpos! Eliza and I did not have dinner that night as we had no money on us! Eliza and Niki did set up a tab system with the backpackers so they could at least buy water! Lets just say we spent most of the night laying on our beds feeling a tad isolated from the rest of the world and a little sorry for ourselves!

Monday 28 September 2009
This morning we had a pleasant sleep in before heading out to the main streets of Maputo, Mozambique to withdraw some much needed money out of the ATM which was now working! Whilst Eliza and I stayed in our room for the whole night (on account of there being no reason to go out as we had NO money), Jesse and Niki went for a walk and were pulled over by the police, with their big guns strapped to their bodies, who asked to see their passports! It is mandatory in Mozambique to travel around with your passport with you at all times if you are a tourist for this exact reason!

We took a taxi to the Central Markets of Maputo. It looked amazing! There was heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables and seafood! Around the outskirts of the big rooved area for the food, were cute little shops selling hand crafted African jewellery, woodwork, carvings and paintings etc.

After this we walked down to a shopping mall that had only recently been opened up. One thing I found weird, was that the supermarket market did not sell bananas! Maybe it had to do with the fact that every second person was selling them on the streets!? I then asked where the dried fruit and nut was. After being taken to various staff members by other various staff members who didn’t understand me, I got taken to the coconut milk!

We decided to have some fun and caught an ‘M-Cell’ (mobile network) tuk-tuk back to our Backpackers, Fatima’s. OMG! This was so scary! On two separate occasions we were nearly cut off by cars at a four way intersection who almost didn’t give way to us, even though we had right of way! One of the cars was so close to hitting us, yet he didn’t seem to take any precautionary measures, apart from flashing his lights at us! We were then almost rammed into by a car driving behind us. Everyone drives so close to one another in Africa – even the tuk-tuk was tailing the cars in front of us!

In true tuk-tuk style, the driver tried to get us to our destination as fast as possible, so much so, that he drove up the wrong lane of the street (i.e. towards oncoming traffic)! When the cars coming towards us got closer, he would quickly duck back into our ‘normal’ and ‘legal’ lane of traffic or stay squeezed in between the two lanes! And this whole time, I was sitting on Eliza’s lap as it only had three seats!

We had dinner at Bambeeza, a tiny little cafe-eatery just down the road from Fatima’s. The menu was even more confusing than the bakery we ate at for breakfast – we had no idea – it was all Portuguese! Eliza and I decided to be daring and just randomly ordered something off the menu. I saw a picture of an omelette, so I randomly picked one of the flavours, not knowing what I was going to get! It was actually quite nice – capsicum, tomato and some random pink meat which I think may have been pologne. Eliza’s wasn’t so good! All she new, was that it included chicken. Once again, we waited for what seemed like forever to get our meals, before out came a bowl of what looked like an Asian-style broth. She started eating it and on about the third spoonful of food that she picked up, she found a delectable chicken foot! Lets just say it definitely was a surprise and that she ended up ordering a plate of chips instead!

Tuesday 29 September 2009
Despite being in the taxi to get to Maputo at 5:30, we didn’t end up leaving until 8:30! Nevertheless, Maputo was beautiful! It was very tropical and had a very relaxed feel to it. Our backpackers, Fatima’s Nest was right on the beach and the four of us shared a bungalow together. Each bed was equipped with a mosquito net, as malaria is a problem within Mozambique.

One of the highlights of the trip was taking a rickety wooden and very old sailing boat across to an island. When we arrived at the Pier, the sailiors (local men) were standing on the deck (as they do every day) waiting for tourists like us to come and ask for their services. Two men came with us – one who steered the boat and the other, who used a small plastic container to scoop all the water out that was seeping through the many holes of the rickety boat! We obviously didn’t realise the extremity of the situation until we were out in the middle of water, so Eliza and I were pretty worried about our cameras getting wet if we sunk! I’m not going to lie, we did make a plan as to how we would salvage our cameras if we did end up in the water! The trip across to the island took us about 1.5-2 hours due to a strong current that kept making us go around in circles! Eliza felt sorry for the poor man who had been scooping water out of the boat for so long, so she offered to have a turn. Although she meant well, what happened next caused some stress! No sooner had she started scooping the water out, did she accidentally let go of the container! It flew across the water and started very quickly floating away amongst the choppy waves! The sailor attempted to direct the boat to where it was bobbing up and down amongst the waves, but every time we got near, one of us would just miss catching it! Next thing we knew, Jesse had ripped his top off and jumped into the water – he was not going to let the damn container float away – he wasn’t going to watch us sink! He eventually got hold of the damn thing…the only problem was getting back into the boat! The water was shallow enough for him to stand, so he tried running against the waves and wind back to the boat where we all had our hands out waiting for him. What a sight! He was struggling so much against the waves – galloping on the sea bed trying to reach us. At one stage we nearly had him in the boat, but he got pulled away from us! Eventually we managed to drag him into the boat – soaked and drenched to the bone! I’m not going to lie – it was HILARIOUS!!!

After spending an hour or so on the beach, the two men offered to take us to try some local coconut beer before we headed back to the mainland. We thought this would be a good experience, so we walked to a small thatched hut inland a couple hundred metres. OMG! It was disgusting – even Jesse, Eliza and Niki who drink couldn’t handle it! It smelt and tasted like apple cider vinegar – disgusting! My bet is that they offer this to every tourist the bring to the island, knowing too well that we will pay for a litre (the packaging size it came in), hate it and then give it to them to finish!

One thing that I remember vividly upon arrival back to the mainland, was seeing a man get out of one of the rickety boats and walk up to the main road with three televisions in their boxes on his head at one time!!! And Eliza and I were worried about our cameras getting wet!

Sunday September 2009

After catching a shuttle back to Maputo at 4:30am, we then had to work out how on earth we were getting to the Mozambique and Kosi Bay border gate. We thought it would just be a matter of catching another taxi, but we ended up having to catch a big ferry to the other side of the mainland. The trip to Maputo was very exhausting and full-on and we were evidently tired from a late night the night before and having to get up at 4:00am! So, by the time we got to the ferry, we were all grumpy and over it! We were also starving but could not stop anywhere as we were worried we were not going to make it to the border gate by 5:00. We waited and waited for the ferry to get going. I was feeling shaky from a lack of food, Niki was busting to use a toilet (she refused to use the disgusting ones I used in the boat itself) and we were all in all, over it! All of a sudden, everyone around us starting getting up – we thought we hadn’t even started moving, yet to our surprise, we had already arrived!!!

It was from here that things got worse! The small market area we were in was filled with busy people, cars and a few taxis. It was our job to find a lift to the border gate! We tried to hitch a ride but no one was going where we were. A guy then told us that his mini bus taxi would be arriving shortly. So we waited…and waited…and ate some fresh bread that seems to be such a big thing in Mozambique! We ate a whole cob each –we were so hungry! I also had a boiled egg which is a common thing that is also sold on the streets in Africa.

When we finally did get into the taxi, the driver tried to charge both Jesse and Eliza for an extra seat because their big backpacks were apparently taking up another seat space. Both Eliza and Jesse strongly argued against this, since they were sitting in the first row of seats and their begs were in front of them. Eventually they agreed to pay for one more seat only, much to their disgust, simply because we really needed to get going to make it to the border gate in time! Once this was all settled, we asked the driver to get going – what on earth were they waiting for – the taxi was full, Jesse and Eliza had paid for another seat. Much to our surprise (although it really shouldn’t have been a surprise after living in Africa for a while) the driver said that they could still fit one more person in and that they were going to wait until someone came along! We were absolutely flabbergasted! There was NO WAY they could have fit another person in! Besides it being illegal, there was actually NO ROOM!!! But, this is Africa, so of course, they found a way…a way in which meant we were more squashed than we had been before – now, we were suffocating!

I sat right at the back in the corner next to two other people. I had my two bags sitting on my feet and lap and the lady next to me had a big round washing tap resting partly on her and partly digging into my arm the whole trip. People were sitting on their side, arms resting wherever they could find a space for them, whether that be out the window, on-top of their belongings or wrapped around someone else’s small yet definitely not ‘personal space.’

We were really worried that we were not going to make it in time – the driver had stuffed around for so long in the beginning that time was slowing creeping away from us! What are we going to do if we get to the border, where there is no accommodation or signs of life (except on the other side of the border) and we are too late!?

The driver told us not worry and that he would drive us through a shortcut way that would ensure we get there in time. To cut a long story short, this short cut happened to be an off-road adventure amongst the dirt, rocks, holes and dips that the great Mozambican land provided us with. The ride was already uncomfortable as it was, little own when we started bumping and sliding around all over the place. Off course, sitting in the back of the taxi was the worst – I felt every bump we went over! I hit my head numerous times on the roof (and wouldn’t be surprised if I got concussion – seriously!), the two people next to me kept sliding into me which consequently pushed me further into the corner of the taxi, I could feel some type of liquid dripping onto my leg, I couldn’t breath because the windows at the back wouldn’t open, the metal bars in my seat were digging into my back due to the lack of padding and the lady’s round tub next to me was leaving rather large imprints in my skin that were becoming more painful as the drive progressed.

Thankfully we did arrive on time, with thirty minutes to spare! Whilst it was good to finally get off the damn taxi, for which I sat squished in one position for three long hours, I was in a vary grumpy mood! It had been such a long day!

We managed to hitch a lift back to Jesse’s and Eliza’s. Niki and I stayed there for the night, before I left Sunday morning to get back to the land of Ingwavuma!