Africa trips

Mozambique 2003 - Harold Churchill

Overlanding Trips

We arrived at Matubatuba and were thankful that we did not live there. Although it was hot at home it seemed doubly so at Matubatuba, and the humidity was oppressive. Our son works at Matubatuba managing a tilapia breeding facility. That evening he took us to dinner at St.Lucia. We left our truck in his garden and we squeezed into his little Nissan 1400. While on our way there the southerly gales arrived. The winds were just as fierce as we had had earlier and his little pick-up was buffeted to such a degree that he had to slow down appreciably.

Next morning dawned cool with heavy grey clouds that threatened rain. We spent some time at the Talapia fish farm before setting off to for Swaziland where we were to link up with the others on our trip to Mozambique.

Swaziland was most depressing. It is overpopulated and dirty. Besides the effects of the drought it is grossly overgrazed and in places looked like a desert. About the only good thing I can say about Swaziland is that their roads are good, although their drivers are murderous and suicidal.

We were all to meet on the farm of the a friend of Struan’s, about 18 kilometres from Manzini, called ‘EI Ranch’. The group was going to consist of 10 people:
The old folks were Libby, Clive and I.
Then there were the younger folk, Struan, Clive’s son, who arranged and organised the trip and his friends Steve, Grant and girlfriend Amaree, Greg, Richard and Mike.
Besides my Toyota, Struan had a new Landrover TDI 5 short wheelbase and towing a large boat. Grant had a Toyota Double cab and Mike was in rusty Toyota Hi-Lux single cab also towing a boat.

We were all up very early next morning and shortly after sunrise we left the ranch and headed for Namaache on the Mozambique border. The others took off at break neck speed while Libby and I took it quietly. After all, why the rush? We only had about 130 kilometres to go and the border only opened at 7.

The sky was a dark gloomy grey and we encountered the odd patch of drizzle sufficient to activate a flick of the windscreen wipers once in a while.

We met up with the others at a service station close to the border. They were not only filling their vehicles but also jerry cans and boat tanks. The price of fuel in Swaziland is cheaper than South Africa; R3.60 compared to R3.88 and considerably cheaper than Mozambique where it was equivalent to R5.51.
I filled up as well and was the first to leave arriving at the border 10 minutes before the others.

Now the horse-trading started. Within seconds of arriving at the border a black man appears at my window. He furtively looks around then asks me, “You want meticals?”
“Yes,” I reply, “what’s the exchange rate?”
“2500 to the Rand.”
“No deal”, I tell him, “I want 3500.
He looks horrified, and rolls his eyes; “3500?? Ill give you 2800.”
We haggle for a while then I finally wind up my window to clearly indicate that negotiations are over. As he leaves another arrives and we begin the same procedure. We finally settle on a rate of 3000 and I exchange R300.




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