Published: August 6th 2008July 19th 2008
The train also had a restaurant attached which proved to be quite good and had cold beer!
A train ride in Africa seems like and is a good idea. No more sharing a seat with two other people, no more sitting down for 12 hours, no more potholes which could swallow a truck, being able to eat and drink and actually enjoy the scenery. That is if you book second class. Third class is just like being on a bus. No surprise then that second class was filled with mostly white faces.
The train trip starts as the buses do too at the ungodly early hour of 5am but we were rewarded with a nice seat in a sleeper carriage. Why they have sleeper car on a train ride which starts in the morning and ends late afternoon is a slight mystery but I guess they had nothing else. Anyway more comfortable than a bus seat apart from the fact that the window wasn't a window anymore but just a big hole. Someone must have gotten bored recently and smashed some of the windows. It didn't rain so that didn't turn out to be a problem and we could undisturbed enjoy the scenery.
There was a lot of scenery to enjoy but as usual in Mozambique
without animals (ignoring the odd goat). Most of the wildlife was killed during the war as source of food. There are some Elephants & Co left in Mozambique but they roam the less accessible parts of the country. Apart from that it really looked like a David Attenborough or Heinz Sielman documentary.
The train sometimes made painfully slow progress which gave me even more time to stare out of the window or talk to the other whities. What amazes me here in Africa is how young most travelers are and how many of them are female. One of the explanations I have is idealism and wanting to improve this world or in short volunteering. The whole place if full of young enthusiastic people which give away their time (and quite a bit of money) to be here and work on some or other improvement program. Here is a wide variety of reasons why people are here. Some are medical students which come here to do some training and see some diseases you would not see in Europe to the American peace corps (go figure) which is an American government program which recruits young professionals and sends them to rural
areas to work as whatever is their specialty. I met two which were teachers and signed up for two years teaching in some remote (and I mean remote) town in Mozambique. All that for USD120 per month. Others are just plain volunteers which work in schools, kindergartens, build schools or kindergartens, help in agricultural development and the like. Not sure how much difference it all makes but as long as everyone is happy. It is interesting talking to them as some really love it and some are quite frustrated that nothing works like expected. He African mentality is quite different to what we think is normal and that causes quite a bit of frustration.
The locals on the train said that it never moved that slow before which says a lot and explains the 5 hour delay we had in the end in a journey which should only take 10 hours. Anyway we weren't complaining as the restaurant car had food and beer.
The best bit about the train journey was when the train stopped which it did many many times. Then a whole horde of people appeared and offered their produce, food and other goodies. The problem
was that each stop didn’t offer something of everything but everyone had the same. There were some onion train station where everyone sold onions, and then there were some which had mostly sugarcane. Always fun to watch especially if the train didn’t stop too long and the transaction got rudely interrupted by a moving train. There was a lot of running going on to get either the produce into or the money out of the train.
The whole journey brought me to my last stop in Mozambique and tomorrow morning it’s on to Malawi
There are more photos below