The next day I got up at 5:30 and packed up and was ready for breakfast at 6 am. Nomad has a saying that “it’s not a holiday; it’s an adventure!” and that is true. Although it was beach vacation, there was no sleeping in until mid-morning. When the sun rises at 5:30 and the temperature never dips below 75 F, it is quite hard to sleep very late, but 5:30 is a bit early, even for me.
We were on the road by 6:30, with 300 kms to travel up the coast. The truck we were traveling in was quite spacious, with 24 seats. Nearly everyone could have two seats to themselves, which was quite nice. Sadly though, it was a bit difficult to see out the front. Behind the driver in the truck’s cab, there was a window facing forward, but it was so high up, that you had to stand to see out of it. There were large side windows throughout which opened down, but with the blistering sun, we kept the windows closed to prevent sunburn. The down side was that it got very hot in the truck during the heat of the day.
After 7 hours of driving, with only one short stop and three police check points, we arrived in Vilanculos, which is a coastal town in the Inhambane Province. The place where we stayed, Smugglers Resort, was right on the beach again, but this beach was not as nice as the previous one: instead of being sandy, it was lined with sharp rocks and covered with garbage. A group of us walked down the beach a bit while lunch was being prepared, but we turned back after a while because it wasn’t very pleasant and it started to rain a bit.
Since the beach wasn’t a viable option for entertainment, a group of us walked into town after lunch for a look around.
Mozambique was a Portuguese colony until 1975. When it gained independence, the Mozambique government gave the Portuguese 24 hours to leave the country. They left by the deadline, but but burned many buildings in the process. The political factions vying for control plunged the country into civil war which lasted for 12 years. Mozambique is now one of the poorest countries in Africa and development has been very slow.
This was made clear during our walk through the village. There were very few new buildings and most of them were dilapidated and run down. There were no large stores at all, just small one-person operations with a lot of empty shelves. The market in town was quite large and had many stalls, but it was not the typical craft market that caters to tourists, like I was used to. This market was definitely for local people because most of the stalls sold every day goods like clothes, shoes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. Since there wasn’t much at the market that a tourist would be interested in, our group headed out pretty quickly.
On the edge of the market, I stopped to buy some locally made bread to see what it was like. I got two rolls for $0.30 and shared them with the group. They were light and fluffy and still warm. Delicious!
We walked back to Smugglers a different way, which lead us down some dirt roads next to the ocean. It was a pleasant walk and was really nice to get a bit of exercise after so much sitting.
In the evening Stephie tried to get a group to go out to a local bar that she found, but the best she could do was convince four of us to go out to dinner. We went to a nice restaurant on the edge of town. It wasn’t exactly a local experience, but the calamari curry I had was really amazing and the Portuguese green wine was outstanding. There weren’t any taxis available to take us back so the owner of the restaurant drove us herself!