Africa trips
 

Mozambique 2003 - Harold Churchill

Overlanding Trips

The countryside, between the villages, is well wooded but for how long this will be is doubtful. All along the roadside vendors sell bundles of cut firewood. In fact most of the trees to be seen are cashew nut trees. Because of their value in nut production they are not cut.

We come to a small nameless settlement and see the bleeding body of a pedestrian lying on the side of the road. A short distance further on a car stands with the front end crumpled and windscreen broken. A crowd is beginning to gather and a policeman waves us on.

Vendors with plastic bags of cashew nuts are a common sight as they wave and tempt you to stop and buy. We stopped a few times to buy. As you stop they arrive like blow flies round a carcass trying to push the bags into the vehicle window all shouting their price at once. Finding the situation intolerable we drove off. We finally find three vendors, not a mob, and proceed to negotiate a price. I had no idea what the weight of the bag was, at least a kilogram or two. They start with 200000 meticals (approximately R66), I offer 50000 and finally struck a deal at 100000. The vendors are quite happy to sell in South Africa Rands.

Words of advice: Check the nuts carefully before you buy to ensure that are properly shelled and cleaned and that they are not over roasted.

The countryside is well populated and grass huts are everywhere with small cultivated fields of maize and cassava that stretch out on either side of the road.
The soil is sandy and rocks and stones a rarity. In fact all building aggregate north of Maputo, as far as Inhambane (470km), is trucked in from a huge quarry just south of the capital.

As there are no fences all domestic animals we saw, cattle, goats and pigs, were all tethered. Only once we saw a herd of cattle and they were well supervised by half a dozen herders.

About 250 kilometres north of Maputo the coconut palm becomes the dominant feature of the landscape, together with cashew nut trees. The huts are no longer constructed with grass and thatch but with reeds and palm leaves.

Although the road is tarred it had by now worsened. It was narrow with many a bone-jarring pothole. In fact some of the potholes resembled an open cast mine and made our potholes back home look like a dimple on a babies bum. It was 300 kilometres since we crossed the border and the day had progressively become darker with a gale force wind and heavy rain. The potholes were now great dams of water.

As we approach Xai-Xai I spot the others a short way in front of us. We follow them across the Limpopo River into a garage to top up with fuel.
Here we are told of an accident that Struan had shortly before. He was driving through a village when a pick-up suddenly braked in front of his Landrover. Although he hit the brakes the weight of the boat behind skidded the Landy into the back of the pick-up. The Landrover, having a fearsome bull-bar, was OK but not so the pick-up he rammed. The pick-up had a South Africa registration and driven by a black from Johannesburg. After much discussion and argument a roadside settlement was reached and Struan paid him R800 for damages. Case closed and all went on their merry way.

Once more we set off with the others speeding ahead into the rain. It is now it is shortly after twelve noon.

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