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Published: August 19th 2012
We got to the train station at 04:00. There was a semblance of a line up, but there were pockets of people not in the line up too. We stayed near the entrance to the station. At 04:30 the station doors were opened by big beefy men in hard hats who were used to crowd control. We used out torches to get to the unpopular 3rd class caqrriages near the front of the train. They were less crowded because they involved a long walk from the station platform.
We got 3 seats in a corner where there was plenty of luggage space on top. We put our 3 bags on the top luggage rack and held on to our day packs in our laps. We chose the corner seats, so there would be more security for our bags, since they could only be reached from one side. Or, so we calculated. N..'s bag was gone the next time he looked up! Really?
He quickly checked that it hadn't just been moved to another spot in the carriage to make room for something else, and jumped out and ran all the way to the station master's office with his flash light (torch). A team of train security officers came running back to the carriage, and N.. and a security officer took torches and did a systematic carriage by carriage search for the missing bag, while the other officers stood on each side of the tracks watching for a bag that might come out of the carriage being searched. No luck! It was gone. The whole train was searched before it left the station at the scheduled 05:30.
So, N.. lost all his clothes, a brand new snorkelling mask, and other miscellaneous items. No significant losses though. The biggest loss was probably the bag itself. He'd bought it at REI in Seattle, when N.. and E.. first went to Mexico in 1992. It was a handy bag and was surprisingly hardy. After 20 years, it was probably time to retire the bag anyway eh.
This was our worst travel in a lot of other ways too. The stinky toilets in the carriages had no doors. African women will often wear trousers (pants) and a cloth wrap on top as a skirt. That skirt is useful for privacy, and sometimes to carry their babies or tomatoes or onions they buy at the train platforms.
After losing N..'s bag, E.. instantly took the other 2 big bags down and kept them by our feet along with the day packs. This would have been inevitable later on anyway, as people kept moving luggage around to make room for the bags and bags of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, manioc and other station platform purchases.
With so much stuff being packed into each available nook, there was no foot space what-so-ever. MNost people stayed put around their stuff, protecting it from being moved or carried away by other people.
The train was supposed to arrive at 17:00 in Nampula. We seemed to be making good time, until just before sunset, the train just stopped on the tracks and didn't move for another 3 hours. It was very dark, when the train finally pulled into the Nampula station at 20:00.
That last 3 hours of waiting was really unbearable. It was pitch black, except for cell phone lights and a few flash lights. All 3 of us also caught a stomach flu and we got to a decent hotel in Nampula and decided to stay put until we were all better.
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