After the 2nd night in the bush, I awake to find a yellow scorpion under my tent - only the deadliest out there. Terrified, surprisingly I did not scream. Once we remove this – carefully with the shovel – we also find that Jeffrey has flown the coop. Guess he was wild after all. He will be missed, although eagles are smelly birds!
After another long day on the dusty roads, we arrive in Vilankulos. Turns out all of those bumps, bounces and bruises were well worth it. The Indian Ocean is a gorgeous and refreshing site, and one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. Vilankulos was a bustling town, but the touts and beggers were out in full force. Everyone is your 'friend'. It was difficult to even go for a swim without someone asking for $ or showing you their wares. I try my luck in the market, but end up getting yelled at in Chechewa by a lady selling fish, then kissed on the cheek.... I hurried away. Totally unsure of how I made this woman angry, I decide to spend the next day exploring Bazruto Island's dunes and using my new PADI license, far away from town. Dune climbing, turtles, and hundreds of beautiful fish. Fantastic. Our last night there we hit up the Afro Night Club, where we danced the night away with some locals. Fun, until I tried to drag my friends home and once again I was getting yelled at by a local lady of the night who was pursuing the Brazilian. How dare I take him away! And another kiss from her. Off we go.... I went to bed exhausted and confused, but at least we were all home in 1 piece. In 2 hours we were supposed to be leaving for Gorongosa....
“Sweets! Sweeets! Sweeets!” We've crossed the border into Mozambique and immediately hit what seem to be lonely dirt roads. We are in the middle of nowhere. So... Where did all of these children come from? I can't help but wave back to them. And wave again, and again, and again. Today I'm in the very back of the Landie, and I'm feeling as if I've sat down in a washing machine. It was fun at first, but the Aussies and I are getting bounced to bits. Sand roads = peaks, valleys, ditches. Nonetheless, we wave until our arms are sore. The smiling children wave, and yell. “Mzungu! Sweets!” Here we are, bumping through the middle of the bush – sand roads, no other cars – just villages, trees, goats and brush fires... and you see a mzungu (aka 'rich white ghost') and expect sweets? Let me at the predecessors... You have very little clean water, no electricity, and probably are fairly sick of nsima. I guess I'd love a chocolate bar too, but all I have is dried fruit, beer, and cans of beans. No sweets. So I smile and wave. And keep on bouncing...
Dusk is advancing, so it's time to pull off the 'road' and make camp. First attempt - drive up a dry riverbed & lower our chances of hitting a land mine. Within 45 seconds, the Landie gets stuck in a pile of sand. So we dig, and push and pull. No luck. The sun is dropping. The village shows up to watch, including the cattle. In the end, we are saved by the winch and a nearby tree. We collect some firewood, give some dried mango to the watching girls (who finally smile), and are on our way. Just as the sun sets, we find a clearing under some larger trees just far enough off the road. And no land mines. I awake to a wild eagle sitting on the Landie. We name him Jeffery & take him under our wing. He's gotten kicked out of his nest and can't fly or eat for himself. So we shove some raw pork down his throat, make him a nest, and have ourselves a stowaway. In the back I go to eagle-sit... & bounce!
TIA: This is Africa. And something is always on fire. Fields, charcoal, garbage, trees, cigarettes, stoves, bush, ditches on the side of the road.... you name it. With the luxury of hours and hours to look out the Land Rover window, it's difficult not to notice. Every time I think the plumes of smoke or piles of ash are gone, I just need to look out the opposite side of the Landie... There will be something charred or burning. The first day of our 10,000km road trip, it happened to be our trailer tire bearing. Thirty minutes into our trip, we're pulled over by a guy yelling “Sparks! Sparks! Your tires!” - nah, not scary at all! Ha. Way to begin. Luckily, we make it to the next town and endure a 3 hour delay, but we now have spare bearings :) We race through Swaziland to Joberg, only to find out crew member numero 5 (the Brazilian) got his dates wrong – 5 hours at OR Tambo and an overnight at a gas station in the car? Yep, our tempers are a bit aflame to find he arrives the next day. Beer me. Fast forward – next day we get our final pickup – the Aussie – from Hoedspruit and head to the Kruger. There had been a major fire in the park, and much of the landscape was charred. It's cold and rainy, but the animals don't seem to mind – 2 days in Kruger and we saw zebra, buffalo, chameleons :), kingfisher, impala, termite mound cities, a rummaging honey badger, saddle bill stork, marshall eagle, scots owl, yellowbill horn bill, steenbok, kudu, warthogs (kind of cute), hyena (yeah!), waterbuck, sharps grysbok, lilac crested roller (gorgeous), nyala, baboon, crocodile, jackal, franklin, elephant... & more. Woo hoo! Quite an intro to African wildlife. Oh, and don't forget the 1 'Dodgy' South African, 1 Australian Siesta, 1 Mad Scot, 1 Tardy Brazilian and 2 American Gypsies. Next up? Bush camping in Mozambique...
Combining a passion for travel, the desire to make a difference & a love of maps, MaggieMaps was born.
Unless otherwise noted, all prose, poetry, maps and photography posted on this blog are Copyright 2013 Maggie Maps
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