Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The end is nigh! We are almost home!

Gorongosa baboon and Sable antelope

We have had a few long days on the road now, and also some nice surprises. Our night in the Gorongosa park was good, and we might have been tempted to return, but they wanted us to pay R 400 to use our own car and fuel to go watch the game. No.

 The camp site was good, not too expensive, and we did see monkeys, baboons and sable antelope on the way in and out. It is good to see the park being developed, but we were wondering about the economic model.

Should conservation be a money generating activity, or should it be a subsidized activity? Should Hollywood stars be fleeced of $ 4000 per night, and nature become impossibly expensive for the rest of us? We understood that they are trying to create employment and we saw teams of workers laboriously fixing the roads, which could have been done faster and for less money by using a grader. Is employment generation not a separate activity? Would it not be better creating productive jobs on farms or in factories?
Have you ever seen rocks like this?
Then we headed for the border, running long the Beira-Harare railway line. We saw many heavy trucks, and the remains of railway villages, including an imposing station and shunting yards, but not much in the line of trains.

Checking out of Mozambique was fast and pleasant, except for the toilets! Crossing into Zim was also quite fast, but the attitude was less pleasant. We were engulfed by people offering their services to make the entry ‘fast-fast’ but we disappointed them, although one guy did offer us the free use of his pen!

White Horse Inn in the Vumba mountains - a real treat!
That night we slept in the White Horse Inn, a lovely old world establishment in the Vumba mountains. It was our first cold night, and we huddled in the lounge next to the fire, eagerly using their WiFi to catch up on our mails.

Then we tackled the road into Harare, and wondered at the many road blocks and check points. We were usually waved through, except at one point where we were told that our temporary vehicle import permit had expired, despite it having been issued the day before! By mid-afternoon we were at Jo and Peter, and settled down to two nights of domestic comfort, good food, relaxation and good company.

Good friends, great hospitality
The Cruiser was treated to a top-up of gearbox oil, a cursory inspection of the spark plugs, and a replacement of the windscreen wiper clips. There is some play in the steering tie-rod arms, another item on our list of jobs to be done.

And then another 700 km run south, with careful adherence to illogical and sometimes difficult to decipher speed controls, until we clocked in at Beit Bridge. Checking out was fast, except for a customs officer with no uniform or identification who told us he was going to have us unpack everything, unless we made it worth his while. We pointed out that after such a long trip we were out of food, out of beer, out of money….

Last campsite: Tshipise
On the South African side we encountered a tide of people trying to enter Zimbabwe, and eventually discovered that we should not go to the Entry hall, but to the unmarked one next to it. All went fast, although there was a real absence of indications as to where we should go and what should be presented when. Then we hit a few shops, and by sundown were setting camp in Tshipise.
Unfortunately the place was rather full, and we chose a site next to the main road, trusting that the traffic would become less at night. Not so!

Voyagers being steamed to perfection!
Lorraine joined us on Saturday for the last nights of our voyage, and we relished the warm waters, although it was a little difficult getting out into the biting wind!

What did we get from the voyage? Many beautiful memories, many nice photos, and some good experiences. I will remember the people we met, from Senhora Chinanha in Ilha Mozambique, who is building a future for herself and her daughter by sheer determination and hard work, fellow travelers who joined in our feast at the Baobab in Vilanculos, PJ and Ian at Libelula in Nacala.

Reinhard felt that the visit to Ilha de Mozambique was the high point of the voyage, Shahnaz felt the diving was her best memory, and Lorraine felt that overcoming her fears to discover snorkeling at Bazaruto was the memory she would cherish.
Oh the road is long!

Tomorrow we pack up, and head home, another 600 km to where the temperatures are said to be around 4 degrees. Maybe we should just turn around and head north again?

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