Trace and Kath's Amazing Race

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November 13th 2010
Published: November 20th 2010
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8th – 13th November 2010
Pemba – Ihla de Mozambique – Nampula – Beira

We left Pemba just after 4am and had a quick drive down to Ihla de Mozambique (only 5 hours) which was pretty uneventful except for the driver trying to demand more money from us due to the high price of fuel. It was very picturesque driving towards the island and over the causeway with turquoise waters and white sand beaches. We were staying at a backpackers place called Ruby’s that we’d heard great things about so got dropped off there and luckily they had a twin room available. It was so hot on the island, there was no wind and the sun was beating down but after a quick rest we went off to explore the island. It’s not a big island, only about 500 metres across and 3kms long which made it easy to wander around. The northern part of the island holds the old fort, the historic stone town (where Ruby’s is) and the southern end is where the causeway comes across from the mainland and the homes of the locals are.
We spent the next few days enjoying the amazing scenery and buildings (it’s a photographers dream!), eating lots of seafood and spent a morning with our South African friends we met in Pemba, out on a dhow boat sailing across to another island nearby called Ihla de Goa (yes named after the Indian beach) where we swam and wandered along the beautiful beach.

Ihla de Mozambique is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in the world, I loved the mix of Portuguese, Arabic and Mozambique buildings and culture everywhere and the delicious food… personal favourite was a smoked fish salad that I had 3 times!! At times it’s possible to forget you are in Africa with amazing Portuguese and Islamic architecture everywhere.

We left Ihla early in the morning to catch a chapa (minibus) to Namialo then another onto Nampula , the nearest main town. Both rides were hell, at one stage I counted 24 people in a 12 seater van plus a couple of chooks! It was so bad in fact that on arriving in Nampula we both agreed that flying to our next destination (or as close as possible) was an excellent idea. We checked into Pensao Parque….far less glam than the name sounds! And then started what we refer to as our Amazing Race experience as we raced around Nampula finding the local airline office, internet, an ATM, the local Shoprite supermarket and a decent coffee before everything shut at 12pm for siesta . We managed to book a flight from Nampula to Beira for the next day using our pigeon Portuguese and the travel agents little English and then relaxed.
We quite liked Nampula, it’s the 3rd largest city in Moz and is quite a leisurely organized sort of city, at times we felt like we were in Europe with the architecture and Portuguese being spoken around us. We had a beer in a park on the outskirts of the city by the train tracks and were a little concerned when a large group of locals congregated on the street outside……thoughts of a protest riot in the making went through my head! We found out after a while that it was people waiting to run onto the train when it arrived into the station to sell fruit etc to the unsuspecting passengers.

The airport in Nampula is pretty much in the town so we arrived early for our flight the next day and I was very happy check into the flight with no issues at all for a change! We arrived in Beira to a balmy 30 + degrees and only 6 of us disembarked as the plane was continuing to Maputo, we got our bags and found a taxi only to find ourselves being push started by a couple of guys…the driver assured me it was a good car! The car started okay and we made our way into the city to find the next posh sounding but not really hotel; Hotel Savoy. We found it okay and dropped our bags, waited for siesta to finish and walked in the direction our taxi driver had waved when we asked where the bus station was. We spent the next few hours asking various men for directions to the TCO bus company, grateful that more people spoke English than up north, we also managed a mad ride in a chapa before we finally found the office and booked our seats. Later back at the hotel we managed to get another helpful local to help us book a taxi for to take us to the TCO office for our 3am bus to Vilanculos. Yay we were off to the beach again!

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