This past weekend, my good friend Marie and I went to Mozambique. I’ve been chirping about this trip for months and was so excited to escape to the beach for a few days. While there, I had plenty of time to think and think I did. I thought about how excited I was to see my girlfriends in a couple weeks, how excited I was to see my family, friends and kitty in a month and most importantly, how thankful I’ve been for this entire Fulbright experience. It allowed me the time to learn, to grow and to appreciate. I certainly appreciated this little weekend getaway.
Mozambique is quite different than Botswana. On the Indian Ocean, it has thousands of miles of coastline, beaches and islands. It was ravaged not only by a war for independence but also a civil war. Mozambique was colonized, but in a completely different way than Botswana. This tropical paradise speaks Portuguese and while certain parts are becoming developed for tourism, most of Mozambique is still very poor. We were warned about not traveling to the northern part of Mozambique as it wasn’t safe for tourists (especially two solo female tourists). I’m going to be honest, there’s a lot I still don’t know about Mozambique. So rather than babble about things I don’t know, I wanted to share what I felt, heard, tasted, smelled and saw in Mozambique. Here’s a tour via my five senses (you’re welcome):
-Ridiculously amazing seafood. Three words for you–butter. lemon. shrimp. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. I haven’t had a lick of seafood in Botswana because it’s a landlocked and very dry country. That’s not exactly breeding grounds for great seafood. So, being able to chow on some fresh lobster and shrimp (I think I ate shrimp 4 times) was the BEST.
-Filtered coffee. Have I ever told you how much I hate instant coffee? Like, it’s the worst. I just can’t drink it. So, we found this little restaurant on the beach that served us our own french press filtered coffee and as I sat overlooking the Indian Ocean I realized there may not be anything better than the ocean and filtered coffee. Amirite?
-Wine. Mozambique shares a border with South Africa. South Africa=amazing and cheap wines. I mean, we may have had our fair share of wine on our deck overlooking the ocean. (Overlooking the ocean becomes a popular theme in this blog post).
-Coconut smoothie. I hate coconut flakes but boyyyyyy do I love the taste of coconut. Especially on the beach. Coconut smoothies eventually led to pina coladas which I believe are the only thing people should drink while laying in the sand listening to the waves crash.
-Cadbury caramel chocolate. OK, so I must confess. I have a bit of a dessert problem. Or maybe it’s just a portion problem. I haven’t totally confronted it yet, but it’s definitely the reason I’m coming back bigger than when I left. So, when I saw that I could hook up with duty-free in Joburg before flying to Maputo, I pretty much had to buy the gallon-sized bag of chocolates. They made it 24 hours before they ceased to exist. UGHHHHHHH. Why is smooth milk chocolate filled with creamy caramel so good? Why can’t vegetables be that good? UGGGGGGGH #lifedilemmas
-Passion Fruit Caipirinha. I mean, I’m on a beach. So, yes—I will drink a beautifully crafted cocktail that includes passion fruit. It was basically a V8 in a glass.
-Waffle with ice cream and maybe a banana and chocolate crepe. Yeah, you read that right. I ate both of those things for desserts (not at the same time, I’m not thhhhhhhat bad). I don’t know if it was my euphoria over my tasty shrimp previous to the dessert or that the desserts were that good, but they didn’t last long.
-Muffins. We stayed at a cute little hotel with only 7 or so villas. Each morning they served a huge breakfast on their deck (overlooking the ocean, of course). Each and every morning they produced these amazing muffins. The problem was they only liked to hand out one per person. WHAT’S UP WITH THAT? Trust me, I tried to ask but it only produced more bread, NOT muffins. MMMMMM, those warm wonderful creations with a little butter and I was good and bloated to lay on the beach.
-Bug spray. Peaceful sleep (the brand of mosquito spray in southern Africa) basically became my daily perfume. Mozambique is malarial and mosquitos loooooooove me. They tore up my feet which was extremely unattractive. I mean, I already have fat feet. Fat feet plus millions of large welts and it looked like I had some weird foot disease.
-Seafood. We’re on the beach and I’m watching fisherman literally take giant fish from their boats, across the sand and sell them in the markets. It smelled……..fishy.
-Coffee. Again, COFFEE. ’nuff said.
-Sunscreen. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the beach but the smell of sunscreen, the scratchiness of sand and the warmth of the sun makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
-Garbage. Unfortunately, there is garbage everywhere. Some scattered bits of garbage on the shore, definitely garbage scattered amongst our small beachside town of Tofo and heaps of it as you drive from the airport in Inhambane through the valleys of palm trees to the coast. It smells and it’s not pretty.
-Ocean salt. There is something about that ocean mist/salt spray that makes me want to never leave the beach. It also makes me feel like I’m never clean, so there’s that too.
-Hammering. If you remember back to my rainy post on tropical storm Dineo, then you should remember that Mozambique was hit hard by Dineo. The sounds of hammering were constant as it tries to rebuild itself.
-Feet rubbing against the sand. I don’t even know how to describe this but as we walked on the sand, our feet would make this rubberish skipping sound. It was so cool.
-Birds. Typically, I hate birds. I don’t care if they sound pretty or ugly, birds yapping away at 5am is not OK with me. But, I got used to this pretty bird and even allowed it a positive presence in my brain as it would chirp five times at 5am and then not again till we were up. That bird knows how to RESPECT sleep. #appreciatenothate
-Portuguese. I knew that Mozambique was a Portuguese colony but it’s still weird to hear Portuguese everywhere you go. Also, because most people couldn’t speak English we had to bust out our Spanish and attempt to converse to those speaking in Portuguese. It was messy but it worked!
-Salesmen. Everyday we laid on the beach soaking up rays. And everyday men and boys would approach us to sell us things. Hats, bags, cashew nuts, coconuts, you name it and they would sell it. We’d politely say no thanks but the kids were relentless. Eventually we had to get aggressive and give a hard no. It’s hard to tell a kid no. However, I did have a favorite salesman–everyday he would come up to us and say, “Hey, hey, my sister from another mister–want to buy some nuts?” Everyday we said no and he’d just continue on his merry way singing as he hit up the next beach-goers.
-Island music. Everywhere we went, music was playing. Sometimes Jack Johnson. Sometimes local musicians. Sometimes Ariana Grande (that was weird). It’s all about chill music at the beach.
-Buttery shrimp. Garlic, lemon, butter–you name it and it was all over my fingers as I slayed that shrimp. They even provided you a finger dish to clean your hands after eating. YUM.
-Sand. Oh, sand. I love sand when walking on it (I mean, sort of—it’s extremely hard to walk long distances in sand and my body was legit sore. Does that mean I’m extremely out of shape? Yikes.) I also hate sand when I’m trying to lay on the beach and soak up some sun. There was some crazy wind that would whip us in the face with sand, sand was everywhere in our room, our bags and stuck to us. It can be hot, cool and scratchy.
-Sun. MMMMMMajor feels. Feeling the sun bake my body was heaven. We lucked out and rather than the large storm predicted by our weather apps, we had sun everyday! #winning
-Wind. The wind was crazzzzzzy. The waves crashed with a deadly force and there wasn’t a day when it was calm on the beach. I’m not sure if this is a constant for Tofo, but you couldn’t escape the wind.
-Mosquitoes. Yes, we have mosquitoes in Minnesota. And yes, I still hate them. It’s a hate/love relationship. I hate them and they love me. They left me some souvenir bites that I continue to scratch even today.
-Mosquito net. Our huge king-sized bed was fitted with a mosquito net. At night as the wind whipped through our windows and waves crashed along the shore, I felt the mosquito net rub against my feet. It sounds poetic but most nights I thought some creep was in our room messing with me.
-Tired. Yes, I felt tired. Tired from life (I don’t know why?) and tired from walking in the sand. I guess that’s why they invented naps. #praisetheuniverse
-Nervous. So, we may have had to run through the Johannesburg airport to make our flight. It wasn’t our fault but long story short….we made it. And, I still had enough time to buy chocolate. YASSSSS.
-Sweaty. Laying on the beach like it’s your job makes a person sweaty. The sun is hot, duh.
-Nauseous. I’m not sure if I’ve explained this before, but I get motion sick. Boats, planes, cars, buses, pretty much anything that moves can cause me to vomit. We had three flights to get to our destination and lets just say they were not smooth. Imagine a roller coaster. Thankfully, I had taken my trusty dramamine and my lunch stayed down.
-Ocean waves. It was my first time to the Indian Ocean and I must say it was a beautiful dark turquoise color that turned over in such a harsh manner. I couldn’t believe people regularly surf, snorkel and dive in this area. But, there was nothing better than falling asleep to waves crashing along the shore. I could hear them even with my nerdy earplugs in.
-Colorful boats. We came across all of these small, old, colorful boats along the shore. I had thought they were deserted until one morning we saw a group of men glide it back on shore from a day of fishing. You couldn’t have paid me to go in one of those boats.
-Vibrant seafood. It’s a beach town and you could pretty much have seafood anyway you wanted it.
-Giant dunes. Now, I’m not talking some Outer Banks, NC small dunes but rather some giant ones. These huge sand dunes dotted the coast hiding all the little beach houses and hotels as you walked.
-Palm trees. Palm trees are my favorite. As we drove the thirty minutes from the airport to our hotel, we crisscrossed valleys of palm trees. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a forest of palm trees before this trip.
-Animals. As we walked on the beach we saw dozens of dead blue jellyfish and little white crabs would pop out of the sand and scatter about. We saw a few small snakes, large toads and cats!!! Three little kitties and their mama ate breakfast with us every morning. #YES
-Smallest airport. I’ve been to my fair share of airports. Krakow and Dubrovnik are small airports, Maun and Kasane are really small airports, but I don’t think any of these compares to Inhambane airport. There is one security/check-in. A row of a few chairs in a “waiting room” and an outdoor waiting room where you watched as a man took your luggage off the plane and handed it to you. I’m pretty sure the Moose Lake airport is bigger than Inhambane’s and I’ve never seen Moose Lake’s airport.
-Thatched beach houses. Thatched houses are very consistent throughout southern Africa and Mozambique is no exception. Although most of the thatched houses had new roofs thanks to Dineo.
-Booze. For being such a small beach town, there were an obscene number of bars and places that sell booze. I’m pretty sure we saw more bars than people in Tofo.
-Dive boats. As we walked to the beach on our first day, we couldn’t believe the size and tenacity of the waves we saw. How on earth did boats make it over them? Then, we saw the dive boats. Essentially, these giant rubber boats just glide (or maybe pop) right over the giant waves as though they weren’t even a problem.
-Local fishermen. We saw fishermen on the beach and in boats. Some carried gigantic fishing rods while others lugged the logs of fish from the boats to the town. Fishing is an important job in Tofo.
-Tin houses. As mentioned previously, most of the population in Mozambique is very poor. We saw remnants of this as we passed many half-finished tin houses in the valley of palm trees. Lots and lots of tin.
-Ocean goers. Tofo is known for its diving but many people enjoyed the surprisingly clear waters of the Indian Ocean on a surfboard, paddle-board or body-board. We didn’t partake in any boarding but the swimming was great!
Much of what I felt, saw, heard, tasted and smelt was in and of the same. All of it was centered around the beautiful beach and ocean and all of it was rooted in relaxation. As I wrap up my business in Gaborone, I’m again thankful for the opportunity to let me use my senses in Mozambique, and Botswana, and pretty much everywhere else I have been. In just 11 days I’ll reunite with my best friends in Namibia where we’ll begin our three-week African adventure. Until then, I’ve got to hit the books!
Check out a few pics here: https://goo.gl/photos/S3rxsEWU6VxaoRD37