Edit Blog Post
Published: August 19th 2012
The road out of Cape Maclear was supposed to be a rough track and we understood it took an hour to get to Monkey Bay. From there it was another hour and a half to Mangochi and then another hour and a half to the Mozambique border at Chiponde/Mandimba. From there, it was another two hours to Cuamba.
We were prepared for a tough day of travel. To make it easier, we hired a taxi at Cape Maclear to the border at Chiponde. The taxi driver really wanted the business, and underbid the "established" cartel prices listed on all the backpacker guest houses. We arranged to leave at 07:30, but the taxi driver finally showed up around 08:00.
Then came the good news. The track out of Cape Maclear had been graded, and was being prepared for paving. We arrived at the border at 10:00. Wow! A planned 4 hour trip had become just 2 hours.
Then came the visa formalities to exit Malawi and enter Mozambique. The Malawi border guard could not find an entry stamp for Malawi in W..'s passport. He said we had to go back to the original border crossing to get the paper
work fixed. No kidding? He did it with a smile of course.
We pointed out that the immigration officer at the Zambia/Malawi border had said there was no need to fill in the entry paper work for a minor. So, going back to that border would be pointless, since there was no paper record of W.. having entered from there.
But, since we were in a good mood having arrived with lots of time to spare, we figured we could play the waiting game. He asked if we had any suggestions? N.. suggested that since there was no entry stamp, then simply don't stamp an exit stamp, and then no problem. No entry, nor exit. E.. suggested that since this was the first time any border paper work was being required of W.., he could stamp both the entry and exit stamps for today and that too would be a practical "solution" to this "problem".
After about an hour of this going back and forth, when the border officer realized there was no payment being suggested, he finally stamped a Malawi exit stamp on W..'s passport and let us go. We changed some money into Meticais with the unofficial money changers and took bicycle taxis to the Mozambique border station, which was 1.5 km away. It was 11:00, and we were still ahead of our original "schedule".
The Mozambique border official said the visa fee was $85 each. This wasn't such a shock to us, because we've been noticing that Canadians are now paying the highest visa fees. It was the reason we avoided a day trip into Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe used to charge Brits the highest visa fees. But, now Canucks have that privilege. He issued receipts, took pictures and pasted in the visas. Everybody else simply got a stamp on any piece of paper in about 30 seconds.
It was now 12:00. OK ... still on schedule. We continued on the bicycle taxis for another 4km to Mandimba where we caught a shared taxi (Chapa) to Cuamba. We wanted to get to Cuamba, because there was a train from Cuamba to Nampula, which is the gateway to Northern Mozambique.
We got in the van taxi with all our bags to avoid dusty bags. The van was designed to hold 12 people, maybe 16 in a pinch. Well, when we left Mandimba, the van held 25 people plus all the luggage. W.. called this travel ASAP ... meaning As Squished As Possible.
The Chapa driver dropped us off very near to the "best hotel" in Cuamba. Well, "best" is a relative term. The bathroom floor kept flooding, the room didn't smell great, and we were dive bombed by mossies all night. W.. had a good sleep, but that wasn't true for E.. or N..
We got train tickets to Nampula. the train has only 2nd and 3rd class, and 2nd class was sold out. So, it was going to be 3rd class travel on hard wooden seats. We met an Italian who'd just come from Nampula, and he said he'd come in 3rd class and the 12 hour train trip wasn't that bad.
Tot: 1.897s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 11; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0368s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb