Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Great Northern Adventure! Part IV

July 31
Ilha de Mocambique - Pemba = 407 km

Won’t lie – Pemba originally wasn’t in our plans. We had another, closer, beach lined up for the last leg of our journey. But while enjoying our time in Ilha the conversation went something like this:

Emily: Woooo! We’ve done five provinces in less than two weeks!
Val: We’re so awesome! In fact, there’s only one province in the entire country I haven’t been to now.
Emily: Me too! And it’s…
Emily & Val: Cabo Delgado!
(*moment of silent realization and plotting*)
Emily: So…how do you feel about Pemba?
Val: Let’s go! Woo!

Thus, we found ourselves on the side of the road in a truckstop of a town called Namialo early the next morning (after two rather unfortunate chapas incidents involving so many people the cobrador couldn’t shut the door and a box of fresh crabs), back to doing our boleia dance for cars to Pemba. While waiting, we called up PCV Ellen and Christine, whom we’d never met before and whose numbers we’d gotten from PCV Patrick and whose house we’d be staying at the next couple of days.

We landed a sweet private car straight to Pemba with a businessman from Nampula and quickly passed out. I was just awake enough to see the sign right before a large bridge that read “Provincia de Cabo Delgado.” At which point, three years after stepping foot in Moz, I had officially visited every province in the country. Finally. I’ll tackle the states next.

The boleia dropped us off in town and after a lunch of beans at the market, we hopped a chapa to Ellen and Christine’s place. They work and live at a teacher training school, and so their house is outfitted not only with all the essential furniture (fridge, stove, pseudo-couch, etc.) but a room with two sets of bunk beds. PCV Derek was also in town to get some work done (his site, two hours down the road, doesn’t have electricity). We chilled at their place the rest of the afternoon and walked down to a restaurant called FrangoAssado (Grilled Chicken) for dinner. Complete with two options on the menu (chicken with xima, or chicken with rice), a full fridge and no silverware, it’s a chicken joint after my own heart.

August 1 & 2

The next two days were spent relatively the same way – here, a 20-minute walk from Ellen and Christine’s place. It was us, the sun and water, boys selling chocolate bars, and our books and a year’s worth of People magazines (a la Ellen). So here’s all you really need to know:

PCV Derek in a palm tree.

found him on the beach. he moves.

homemade HotWheels

August 3

Pemba – Alto Molocue = 613 km

We leave Ellen and Christine’s before dawn and walk to the main road. We have a vague plan to get as far as we can to PCV sites and finish up in Chimoio the day after that. After an hour, we catch a private car with a gentleman headed a few hours down the road. At that town, we settle for hopping into the back of an open back chapa headed to Nampula. Despite the potholes, bumps and wind as we cruise down the road, I manage to bury myself in Lonesome Dove and not think about how far we have to go.

In Nampula four hours later, Emily and I take a detour to get apas – a fried egg folded in a tortilla-type wrap and drizzled with sauce, only available in select places in the north. We catch a chapa to the edge of town and wait for an hour before settling for sharing the front seat of a large truck that pokes along around 40 mph.

We arrive in Alto Molocue after dark to find the two PCVs who live there – education PCV Sam (who had site visited with me during training back in Chokwe last November) and health PCV Dylan. We head back to Sam’s after a quick chicken dinner and Emily and I crash on his makeshift couch-bed for the night.

August 4

Alto Molocue–Chimoio = 809 km

Sam sees us off around 5 and we hike through the hilly streets back to the main road. It’s 7:30 before we finally catch a private pick-up going to Macuba and climb in the back. In Mocuba we barely start to boleia when a couple of gentlemen from Maputo stop by and we chat the next couple of hours to the turn-off in Nicoadala, where one road goes to Chimoio and the other to Quelimane, the provincial capital of Zambezia. Here we have the great fortune to flag down a chipper Spanish family and stretch out in the bed of their pick-up.

On the way, we stop for a photo-op at the Arvore Milagroso. The lady in the front seat, who has a bit of a beard, tells us thatthis particularly tree is incredibly rare and drops only one leaf each year. If you climb up and tear one off yourself, she says, the tree bleeds.

We continue with the family until Gorongosa Park. We’re dirty and disgusting from so many hours in the back of vehicles, but still having a good time and knowing that we’re only a few more hours from our own beds (as much as I enjoyed snuggling with Emily and various other PCVs throughout the trip) where we can sleep in past 5 am.

At Gorongosa we manage to shove our way into a chapa and I spend the next two hours with my arms pinned against me, the cobrador standing over me and so many legs underneath me I’m certain I’m standing on someone’s feet the whole trip but can’t see them to know and don’t have anywhere else to put them anyway (it’s okay, they go numb quickly and then you don’t have to worry about it until you try to stand up). Back in Inchope, we immediately get a ride inside a private truck that drops us off at the Peace Corps office an hour later.

We walk home. Though it’s after dark in the coldest month of the year in one of the coldest cities in Mozambique, I take a cold shower just to be able to have running water, which I haven’t experienced since Malawi. I wash over 600 kilometers of road dirt off and don’t shut off the shower until the water running off my feet is clear again.

However, we only have about an hour. Two friends of ours, a British couple, are leaving Moz to head back to the UK, and we’re having a good-bye party at their place. In an hour, we manage to magically transform ourselves from dirty hippie-zombies to civilized party-going human beings again. It’s right around the corner from my house, so we walk there, and afterward return to my place along with PCV Shane to avoid their having to pay for taxis home. Finally, we pass out in my enormous bed, but inevitably are awake around 6 the next morning.

Grand total: 3899 km

Until the next adventure!

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