Monday was my birthday, but of course no one on the trip knew about it. I had mentioned it to Stephie but swore her to secrecy because I didn’t want it to be a big deal.
We awoke early once again and were on the road by 6:30 am. We had a long way to travel back south and our guide wanted to get to our destination by mid-afternoon.
I spent most of my birthday on a truck, sweating in the heat. It was not the most pleasant experience ever, but I recalled fond memories of birthdays past and that helped to pass the time.
Along the way we stopped at a local tourist market, our only opportunity to buy souvenirs. Many people went on a shopping spree, but I didn’t really see anything that caught my eye. I did, however, go to a wine shop and buy a few bottles for dinner.
The pre-departure guide I had received indicated that we would be spending that night and the next in Inhambane. We did pass through the village on our way, but we were all a bit surprised to discover that our lodging, the Palm Grove Lodge, was right next to the Barra Lodge where we had stayed at earlier! Barra lodge was advertised as being in Praia do Tofo, which made it sound like it was a different area completely. I think everyone was upset to learn that we would spend essentially 4 of 8 nights at the same beach, especially when that beach wasn’t the most beautiful one in the area.
However, we all made the most of it. After lunch, I went over to Barra lodge where there was internet access and had a quick chat with Jacob. Stephie and I also organized a quad bike tour for the following day.
There was an Afrikaans wedding on the beach, right at our resort that most of us watched in the late afternoon. Andrew, who is a tour agent living in Cape Town, told everyone it would be a great cultural experience to see, and I laughed at that knowing it would be like any Western wedding, just in a different language. And sure enough, I was correct. It was funny to see all of the guests dressed in white along with the bride though.
I started gathering people to the dinner table around 6 pm and announced that it was my birthday. I had purchased five bottles of wine that day and poured for everyone. Our guide, Tawanda, sang to me while giving me a long, sweaty hug. That part was a bit unpleasant. But once everyone gathered and had a drink in hand, they sang happy birthday in five languages! First there was English, then German, Italian, Dutch and finally Portuguese. It was interesting to discover that they were all to the same tune, except the Portuguese version, which was completely different. I got to start the line to get dinner and had a lovely time chatting with people.
Typically after eating, everyone would disperse back to their rooms very quickly, but this night everyone lingered and chatted for some hours. Stephie secretly ordered some dessert from the bar so I had trifle and some mini tarts. It was too much for me to eat so I shared with everyone else.
I also lucked out with rooms: I had agreed to share a room because the price was much less, but when the resort manager was showing us to our rooms he said that someone could take this single room. No one else spoke up, so I claimed it for myself. I enjoyed a queen bed with own shower for two nights.
It wasn’t the amazing climbing weekend in Vegas that Jacob and I had for my birthday last year, but overall it was nice.