Thursday, May 30, 2013

Baobab musings

Tofo divers

Our time at Zawahake in Tofo passed quickly. We had some good dives, several lovely dinners on fresh seafood, and some nice relaxation.

Paulinho helped me disassemble the freewheel hub, and diagnosed that “the spring is not in a good place. ”We did find that the spring was not hooked up, but no amount of coaxing could get it to do its job. So Nelson had to come and help. He disassembled, reassembled, and shook his head. Soon an old rusty unit from a Cruiser that lives on the beach was brought, and we could see: the spring was tightly coiled, allowing the locking mechanism to be withdrawn fully. A quick substitution, and by the time we had reassembled and tested my car Nelson had bent the bad spring into a good shape, and I am sure the donor Cruiser is functioning as it should.
Prawn curry in the making

Then we started packing up, and hit the road to Vilanculos, stopping off to buy the Piri-piri sauce indicated on the map.
Vilankulos beach

Baobab backpackers
Vilanculos is a dusty town, teeming with people of all sizes, and a fascinating beach life. Fishing dhows return on the evening land breeze, women congregate to bargain for the catch, rinse it in the sea, and carry it home in triumph, stray dogs following hopefully. A place where one could live, provided that you have an internet connection! Or keep a boat.

We took a trip across the vast, but shallow lagoon to Bazaruto island, and had a lovely snorkel session at a pristine reef, like the ones you see on post cards. Madame decided to go diving, despite the high prices and the attitude of the nearby dive center, while we will charge everything that we have to charge, and catch up on this blog.

Dinner at the Baobab!

We also met fellow travelers: Two girls from Greenland and, no, they were not green! Nice people, and a pair of Aussies making their way around in a bakkie they rented in Durban: he moonlights as a chiropractor and acupuncturist, she writes. A German couple who bought a Nissan Patrol on the Internet, and are now at the end of a six month 20 000 km voyage around Southern Africa and suffering from re-entry anxiety. He has a job as oil geologist to go back to, she has to find a space in the UN system again.

Bazaruto beach girl
Food has been an interesting part of our voyage so far. At Xai-xai we had fried calamari, but I had my doubts afterwards about the integrity of the oil. At Zona Braza we enjoyed crayfish, oysters and red fish, all fresh from the ea. At Zawahake we had prawns, Bully beef stew, and pasta! And in Vilanculos we had barracuda grilled, prawns and chips, chicken in tomato stew, and goat stew. A recipe book is under consideration.

Prawns and chips anyone?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

We wasted an hour and stayed two days

The road has thrown us up at the Tofo peninsula off Inhambabe after an interesting, and adventurous peregrination.
What to take, what to leave ...

First we blasted out of Pretoria at oh dark thirty, to beat the traffic and to make as many kilometers as we could. Only to discover, after half an hour, that we had forgotten the all-important car papers at home. So we turned back, to the delight, and then dismay of the dogs …

Pietersburg, Magoebaskloof and Tzaneen brought back many memories, and sooner than we had expected we were in Phalaborwa, and into the Kruger Park.
Dogs do not like packing

A few kilometers of disappointment was followed by a sighting of a family of giraffes, and then a herd of elephants, urgently going their way on some important elephant business, hurrying through the bush, bypassing the water hole, and grabbing a bite here and there, before disappearing. Near Letaba a magnificent tusker deigned to allow us a photo.

Next morning we were at Giriyondo gate at 08h30, and checked through with the assistance of pleasant people, even the Mozambican military, who offered not to let us unpack the car for inspection if we could offer a few beers. Instead we began to untie and unpack, to their dismay, and they sent us on our way.  On the Mozambican side of the park we saw the rare two-headed giraffe, and many cattl, more than outside the park. Can you run a park like this?
Letaba river peace

The rare two-headed giraffe
At Chokwe we stopped to try out our visa cards, and to buy sim-cards, with the promise that they would work in a modem. By early evening we clocked into Xai-xai, which we found rather tumbled-down. The camp site looked nice, but in the absence of any signs of a dive center we decided not to set camp but to take two chalets and to push on north the next day.

Zona Braza comfort
Catch of the day
A pleasant young lady at a M-cell shop showed us how to configure the modem, and not much further north we saw a sign to Zona Braza, the hot spot.

We decided to spend an hour checking this out. A very nice resort, not expensive, with charming self catering cottages tempted us to spend two days instead! Local fishermen supplied crayfish and red snapper and we were reluctant to leave, but after all the idea was to come diving!

We headed for Inhambane, as we had the use of a house at Barra Do Tofo, and we knew that here we would find diving. Inhambane sorted out our last modem glitches, and also delivered our first vehicular contretemps: The Pescador restaurant serves excellent fish, but their parking requires a sharp turn on the beach, and the Cruiser was a little heavy, something that the four wheel drive sorted out. But then the left hand axle lock would not disengage!

We found the house, the dive center, and the seafood, but tinkering with the axle lock did not deliver many positive results. So now we will enlist the assistance of Paulinho, and see what we see.

Fishermen off Tofo

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The road is calling, and I must go ...

In the long, empty days of autumn we began to talk with some seriousness about a way to avoid the coming winter.

"Why" Said Reinhard "do we not go diving in Mozambique?"

And the seed was sown.

And as the day approaches, life happens. You know how it is. Suddenly the seemingly empty days fill up with important, urgent things that just cannot be postponed.

Now, fitting four people and their luggage and diving and camping gear into the Cruiser wehere two of us had our camping stuff was never going to be easy. Especially as Madam flatly refuses to have her diving gear on the roof rack.

And then things started happening. An Ambassador of a country we MUST visit one of these days, asked me to come and see him. And the new and wonderful modem stopped working after a week. Amd my brother who had emigrated to Cape Town was going to be in town. And Shahnaz had to attend a meditation workshop And then our estate agent decided to stand us up, leaving us two days to renegotiate all the rental contracts, arrange for the servants to be paid, and get the municipal accounts sorted out.

Well, we did have a moment when we thought that we should postpone. After all we do want to see our friends who will only arrive in Maputo on 31 May, and will probably be visitable a month or two later. But Lorraine had already asked for leave, and after all, once we are on the road things will work out, somehow. We know that.

So I got to packing. We will take the Cobb charcoal stove, the Jiko stove, now converted from petrol to gas, and the small Chinese camp gaz stove we bought in Mauritania. And Raienhard has a Cadac gas stove ... Do you get the impression that we are going to be over-stoved? Ok, the Cobb will stay, especially as we will do some camp fires.

So, from the middle of our pile of torches, inflatable mattresses, groceries, batteries, clothes, and sundries, we send you greetings!