Published: March 30th 2012March 29th 2012
On my first night in Zim we went to Mez and Gary’s for supper and whilst we were there Gary offered us the chance to go with him to Mozambique that coming weekend so we thought why not! We had been staying on the farm and were meeting Gary in Harare so first we had to get back into town. This involved a 2 hour ride in the back of Clive’s pickup truck (me Carly and Oscar) in the pouring rain! We were all soaked, tired and a bit battered but I thought it was a fantastic way to travel, like having a convertible but more exciting. Travelling in the back of pickup trucks is completely legal in Zim, it is how most people get around (though I don’t think people are too used to seeing 3 white guys in the back of a pickup in the rain as we were getting some funny looks) however, there is also the same time a seat belt law as in the UK?! So from what I understand if you have a seatbelt and don’t use it you can be fined but if you have no seatbelt (pickup) then that’s ok, African logic is beyond me.
So we set off for Mozambique. The drive through Zim was reasonably uneventful, a couple of road blocks and we had to change the tire for the trailer when it burst. Unfortunately he spare was not in very good shape either so we pulled into the town of Motoko to get a new one. Motoko was a small ramshackle little town which seemed to be made up of a night club, an ox and cart, some shops, and this tire changing place. I won’t call it a shop because it wasn’t it was just a couple of guys surrounded by tires. The boss was a slightly crazy old guy who was claiming to be the ‘chief of Motoko’ and he called his minions to begin the process of replacing this tire. There was no machinery involved just 2 metal strips, a hammer and brute force!
After this little interlude we arrived at the border crossing between Mozambique and Zim. We passed out of Zim into this strange sort of no-mans-land without any problems however when we reached to Mozambique crossing point the problems started. As me and Oscar were on UK passports we needed visas to enter Mozambique (visas here seem to just be a way of getting your money as they were going to cost $60 for 2 days) but the cost was the least of our worries. We filled in the usual immigration forms and went up to the big guy behind the desk where we were told that Mozambique has changed to ONLY electronic visas and that there was no power
“No power – No Visa – Piss off” was the general vibe he was giving out.
Mozambique itself has almost no centralized power service (national grid) and this border post was actually getting its power from Zim (Zesa) a country hardly renowned for its reliable power, until last Friday we were running on a generator for 18 days straight on the farm. So a country they has no domestic power service and has to get power from what much be one of the least reliable countries in terms of power had converted to only electronic visas, again I just cannot fathom this African logic. Luckily we were with Gary who swung into action with his Portuguese and most importantly with Dollar! Before too long we had bribed all the right people and were through, it seems that in Mozambique if you have enough cash you can do pretty much whatever you want!
So we continued our drive through Mozambique which was quite different to Zim. Though Zimbabwe roads are hardly the best in Mozambique the road we were on hadn’t finished building the bridges! So we had to drive down into the dried river bed in order to pass. I have no idea how Gary gets through in the rainy season? There are also cows and goats just sitting in the middle of the road and we were forever beeping and these animals to try and get them out of our way! After a long and bumpy trip we arrived at Gary’s place by Lake Cahora Bassa. When we arrived it was overcast and not the raging heat that we had been told to expect though it was still hot and humid next to this vast lake. It was still warm though and we spent the first day relaxing by the pool taking a look at the lake and generally recovering for the 8/9 hours in the car.
The next day we had planned our fishing trip and on Sunday we packed the cool box with beer and set out. The lake itself is beautiful and shooting along in the speed boat we saw fishermen in their traditional dugouts, maize crops growing on the sides of the gorge that surround the lake and a couple of crocks. Again like Clive, Gary has these amazing and occasionally shocking stories which are told in such a matter of fact way as if totally normal and everyone has these experiences. We did not do any fishing in the morning and arrived at a little restaurant at the side of the lake for lunch. We had Portuguese Piri Piri chicken which was amazing and continued the drinking which had started on the boat. It was after this meal that my camera decided to kill itself so, unfortunately, I do not have any photos of the rest of the day. After lunch we went out to try and catch a fish. As we started our fishing the clouds parted and the scorching sun which we had been promised came out! We went to three different spots looking to catch different fish but unfortunately we had no luck whatsoever. Of the 4 of us we didn’t even get a bite! But I still had a great time on a boat in the sun with plenty of beer it was a great afternoon. I did at one point fall off the boat while I was trying to unhook my line from a weed, Gary didn’t hold my legs! We had seen a few crocs about and I have never got back in a boat so fast! By the time we got home I had burnt, despite my best sun cream efforts, and we enjoyed a last supper (which had no fish) and finished off what remained of the beers.
Our trip back to Zim was far less of a hassle. We stopped in Tete (a booming mining town) to pick up some samosas and other Portuguese snacks and headed for the border. The border yet again was not an easy ride. As we did not have visas they were reluctant to let us leave but it was still the same boss and same gate men and after a brief discussion into how we got into the country without visas and if they did hold us we would simply tell the truth that they let us through the big fat border guard was not happy about it! So we got back into Zim headed for Harare and from there back to the farm.
I think I will head outside now as the sun is out and I have recounted what I can about my time here in Zim. I’m sure more stuff will occur to me to write down in the coming days but for now I am going to make the most of my last day in Zimbabwe.
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