Friday, November 5, 2010

Pemba, Mozambique.

Woke up at 4am to catch the minibus to Pemba and found it had come 30 minutes early so had to rush to get in it. Got dropped off at the turn off as the minibus headed for Nampula and we were heading in the opposite direction. Had to walk a wee way out of the village of Namialo and queue on the side of the road with the locals for a big bus coming from Nampula. It was chockablock by the time it got to us and we had to stand between sacks and suitcases and babies in the narrow aisle for about an hour and a half . When we finally got a seat we had to wipe it down as a young boy had peed all over it and onto the floor.

At each stop, the locals came out selling tomatoes, live chickens and ducks, potatoes, onions, bread and the usual soft drinks and biscuits. The sellers are well rehearsed and equipped. They have poles to hang things on or stand on plastic crates so they can eyeball their customers as the buses are quite high off the ground.

There were many villages with huge mango and cashew trees so every village seller was trying to sell these as well.

Green cashews.

The beanlike nut at the top of the fruit is the cashew.

It hangs below the fruit from the tree and looks quite odd. The fruit is juiced and sometimes cooked and eaten.

We finally arrived in Pemba after 9 hours travel. We are getting used to waking early as everyone is up and about from 3am on and they make so much noise. It is also so much cooler travelling at that time of the day.

We checked into a lodge at Wimbi Beach about 7 kms further along the coast from Pemba. It is owned by a Kiwi/Aussie guy. He was apparently born in NZ but lived in Aussie. We had a small chalet with a fan, mosquito net, and ensuite. The palm leaf roof had a few gaps so we were always being eaten by mosquitoes.

The tide was a long way out from the shore at low tide and the beach was not very nice at all. The lodge felt like being a guest in an internet cafe because many of the ex-pats would arrive in their 4x4s at all times of the day and night. They would sit in the open thatched restaurant area and plug in their computers and deal with their mails. Sometimes there would be 30 people doing this and just a couple of guests. They never spoke to the guests but socialised with the other ex-pats.

One night there was a movie. One of the local ex pats set up his computer and used the brick wall to project the American movie that was subtitled in Portuguese. Everyone sat round the lawn on benches and cane chairs outside and it was a nice atmosphere.

On our final night a large number of ex-pats arrived and had a party by the pool and the music was so loud that it felt like I didn't have ear plugs in at all. We had gone to bed early because we had to catch a taxi to town at 3 am but after not being able to sleep at midnight I got up. The owner finally decided to shut the party down at 1.30am when he saw me sitting up by myself. He said he was sorry but I doubt it. He makes more money from the ex-pats using his bar and restaurant than he does providing accommodation for guests. We have come across these conflicts before many times.

John met some Canadian travellers who had come the route we had planned to take but in the opposite direction. He was able to get a lot of details about the transport, roads, and accommodation so we knew we were in for some tough days of travel ahead.

On the way to the bus station at 3.30 am we passed a group of ladies singing and banging plates and small drums. The taxi driver said it was to celebrate the 20th birthday of a girl who was still single. They would celebrate in this way for 3 days to tell everyone she didn't have a husband!