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Published: November 20th 2010
1st – 2nd November 2010
Kampala – Nairobi - Pemba
Leaving Kampala.......Well most of the goodbyes had been said and the promises made to return to Kampala one day. Our last night in Lions Motel was heralded by the firing up of the generator outside my room which was left on for most of the night which meant that when the alarm went off early in the morning I’d had very little sleep. Our bus left at 7.15am so after managing to get a takeaway coffee from Café Javas we boarded our Queens Coach and actually left ON TIME!!! After getting over the shock Kath and I settled in for our 12 hour drive to Nairobi. The trip itself was only memorable for the fact that nothing happened and the drive was relatively smooth except for the high speed driving which scared the bejesus out of us both and the 5 or so trucks that we drove past lying on their sides on the road with their drivers standing beside them scratching their heads. Long distances and shocking driving result in so many accidents over here.
We arrived in Nairobi safely and spent the night in the same B&B that
we’d been in at the end of our overland trip. We had an early evening flight to Pemba so spent the morning sorting out postage of boxes home, went online briefly and enjoyed a coffee and rejoiced about how easy everything had been so easy up until now. We left for the airport early as we’d heard the traffic in Nairobi was hell but made it there in 30 minutes so thought we’d have plenty of time to do a spot of duty free shopping and enjoy a leisurely drink……silly us! We were the first to check in for the LAM flight and I handed over my ticket and passport then heaved my pack onto the scales and heard the check in guy say “Miss Brittain are you sure you’re travelling today?”. To which I replied “You betcha!”. He then tried to check in Kath and that all went through perfectly….it would seem that my online booking made about 30 minutes after Kaths hadn’t been completed despite the fact that they’d charged my credit card! Apparently it happens all the time. So anyway to cut a long story short we had to wait for over 2 hours for the LAM
ground crew to find my booking and check me through resulting in yet another mad race to our departure gate….we did manage to knock back a cheeky white wine each on the way though
Thankfully the flight was uneventful and we made it to Pemba on time where we for the first time we experienced the (dis) organization skills of the local airport authorities. Our plane was continuing on to Maputo that evening so all the Maputo “transit” passengers had to walk through to the baggage carousel area where they had to identify their bags before moving onto the transit lounge while we, the disembarking passengers had to stand outside on the tarmac in blistering heat (luckily it was dark so we didn’t have the sun beating down on us) waiting. Finally after about an hour we were allowed to move into a hot immigration room to hand over our US dollars and get a Mozambique visa before being reunited with our bags…the whole process taking close to 2 hours! We then walked out into a carpark where there was no one waiting for us and everyone else from our flight quickly left in taxis etc leaving us with
a few local guys, unable to find a phone. Thankfully of the local guys came to our rescue and Rudy from the camp arrived to pick us up. We got to Pemba Bush and Dive Camp our home for the next few days feeling pretty tired and after a quick snack and a beer we were tucked up in bed dreaming of an end to our travel woes.
3rd – 8th November 2010
We woke early our first day in Pemba as the sun seems to rise 2 or so hours earlier here and got up to have some breakfast and explore our new home. We are staying in a bamboo hut that’s open at the top below the roof which lets a little desperately needed air into the room. There are no locks etc but it seems pretty safe. The bathrooms are also bamboo huts with salt water showers and resident geckos. It’s really hot here and there doesn’t seem to be much of a break with night time temperatures up in the 20’s. The camp is right on the beach so there’s sand everywhere and huge crabs the size of plates that come out of their massive holes at night.
We spent the next 5 days hanging out on the beach, sunbathing, swimming and reading. We wandered into town a couple of times where I tasted the best Portuguese tart ever at the local pastelaria and had dinner at place down at the main beach (called Wimbi Beach)with a few South Africans we met at the camp, but most of the time we cooked our own meals and chilled out. We had planned on only staying in Pemba for a couple of days but the bus were going to catch wasn’t running on that particular day so we made the excellent choice to stay for an extra few days.
After our last day of lying in the sun we decided at about 2pm to head into town to buy our bus tickets to Ihla de Mozambique for the morning but while we were waiting for a ride from camp a taxi pulled in with a couple of Americans. They had come from Ihla (means island in English and is what the locals call Ihla de Mozambique) in the private hire taxi and after some helpful negotiations made by one of the staff we had a cheap trip to Ihla organized. But we had to leave in the next hour as the causeway from the mainland across to Ihla closed at 9pm and it was a 5 hour drive away. We quickly packed our bags and checked out before climbing into the taxi with our smiling driver who spoke hardly a word of English and driving off. It all seemed to good to be true….we were avoiding having to get up at 3am to catch a crowded bus and all for less than one tenth of the usual price. About 20kms down the road we got a flat tyre and that’s where our good luck ended. The driver didn’t have the right sized tool to take the wheel nuts off and after flagging down a good half a dozen other Toyotas (there are a lot of them over here!) we realized just how rare the wheels on our taxi were. We found out there was a mechanic up the road so the driver went up to see if he could help….he couldn’t. But he did have a car so after depositing Kath and I at a house up the road he and our driver drove back to Pemba to get help. Meanwhile Kath and I were sitting out the front of a half built house with a lady selling mangoes who spoke no English, she gave us a mango each to eat which was nice (although I’m still picking the fibres out of my teeth) and we settled in. We were there for about 5 hours by the side of the road……..waiting. The driver finally came back with a puncture repair kit that didn’t work well on the tyre so we were driven back to camp by the mechanic and the mango lady (who turned out to be his wife) while the driver tried to nurse the car back to town. We’d only been back at camp for an hour or so when the driver arrived….he’d found the wheel nut tool….it was in the glove box all the time!
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