Finally Mozambique. The next big step of the trip. Expecting 1800 km riding on the same road, that is N1 all the way from the border, through Maputo, Xai-Xai, Inhambane, Vilanculos up to Sambesi river where my plan is to cross over on Dona Anna Bridge that upon construction was Africa's longest bridge crossing Sambesi for almost 4 km.
I'm really keen on getting to know a new country, especially because it will be the only non-english speaking country i am crossing, which also was not in the original plan. But because of the much longer distance to South Africa's northern border with Sim(babwe) and me running out of time on the RSA visa the plan had to be changed. So i download offline translations for portuguese on my phone and off I go.
From the geography of the country you can immediately tell it's going to be an awkward ride: You can cycle for something like 2400 km all the way up to Tansania, but you're going through Maputo, the biggest and basically only big city after 120 km just at the beginning in the South. So how is the rest of the country? Will i get along as a more or less untalented person in languages? Not speaking any portuguese or spanish? Can i learn some without any knowledge in advance? How will the people be? How is it to cycle this massively long road which in most parts is flat?
At first it is really pleasant, going down a windy road from Siteki into the lowlands and it doesn't take me long to realize: the people are awesome. I'm greeting left, greeting right, bon dias, boa tard, people cheer me on. Really rural area, just huts, and people carrying around things on their heads and massive loads on vintage bikes that would make the hipster city fixies (that I love to hate so much back home) look like unstylish "you're-trying-too-hard-to-look-cool" vehicles. Then it starts raining and the front bottle cage breaks, so i am left standing in the rain trying to fix a tiny part of the bike which proves itself to be not easy to fix.
I continue towards Maputo, but by now i already know i can't do it this day. It is already dark, the road still wet so i can't see anything because i get flashed by every oncoming car. Just before Boane i decide to ask at a military area, and after a lot of back and forth in portuguese i take a friendly soldier on the bike and into town. He speaks good english and offers me to join and explain the matter to the police officers. So far policemen and other officials have always been really nice to me, i don't really feel very comfortable being around them but also i feel like they play a much more important role in everyday's life here than back home. In these smaller and much closer communities, where there is also a much bigger percentage of officials like policemen/women, everyone knows each other. So people from the villages they know the policeman who's living around the corner and is said to be really corrupt or too strict. And they have a lot of power i believe, they can just set a checkpoint on the street and search every single car passing. So i wonder how this works out, how do they manage to not be hated by everyone. They don't have to obey the rules or law per se. They make the rules and if you want them to leave you alone or investigate in a matter you're going to pay. So i decide to take Boane as a corruption test for police officers in moz.
Especially because it is already that dark. If you have been to africa you know that dark here is another dimension. There's very little electric lights, much less cars so basically no light polution in big parts of the continent. Flying over africa at night, you can't see a lot, i have tried flying to Uganda 5 years back. So night, which is the time after 6 you can't see a thing. (As Bilal, a friend and former flatmate of mine once said- it is dangerous in Gambia at night. There's no streetlights and you know, all the people are black. So you can easily run into each other because you don't see the people). And it's true, it is a completely different, much more intimidating atmosphere here, at night. Everyone knows this is the time when the bad things happen. Bad juju.
So i usually never go looking for people to give me a place at nighttime, that's why I end up at police stations that much. And in Boane, first thing they ask for is my passport to keep it till morning. They are quite amazed by the bike and what I'm doing and I think this is what mostly helps me to find nice people to give me a place or help me out with problems. In that matter it's similar to hitchhiking. People that don't sympathize with what you're doing won't approach you, so the people that do so are generally really friendly and helpful. When i approach someone i realize pretty fast if that's not the case.
In Boane there's no trouble, no one asks me for money or anything and in the morning I get my passport without discussions. They even offer me a shower without being asked. Test passed, Boane Police. A+. And then it's time to get this small town a little excited as I take a short trip to the supermarket for money and a Simcard. Lots of excitement as I go through town towards Maputo. The portuguese language and the whole atmosphere with the portuguese style colonial buildings really grows on me. It's like being in a completely different place and instantly you can tell that you like it a lot and that the time there will be awesome. And the people are really nice. Friendly but not too much into your face. And there is so much more going on. Especially in comparison to South Africa I get the feeling that people here are at least doing things, they are more active. They have opportunities. Still getting a job is hard to almost impossible but then people still own land, so they farm. Or they transport things or repair cars, bikes, or sell goods.
So i make it into Maputo. I have no idea what to expect, didn't do any research in advance. Rolling down the streets of this pre- planned city, everything is straight but big and rubbish buildings I'm not sure how to feel about the city. It doesn't have the nicest atmosphere. I just have to go to the bikeshop to fix the back wheel and I'm thinking about just passing through. At the bikeshop there's lots of looks and nice people. They easily help me out with the tire while i snack a pizza cone. Pizza that is put into a cone so it looks like icecream. Just why. As i feel hungry all the time i decide to see at least the beachfront and end up in a small restaurant. The beach is not really made for swimming there. But at the restaurant i meet Fernando who is from portugal but working in Mozambique. We have a nice chat and he offers to take me in. Of course i will take that chance to see what this city is really like. And I have to say, Fernando and his flatmates have been so welcoming and nice to me, I completely changed my mind about Maputo. You just have to meet the right people that can show you the nice places and it is something completely different. First evening I was going around town a bit, seeing the trainstation and central Maputo, taking lots of people on the bike and almost getting stuck in crowds of hundreds of people. Sometimes this can be quite scary, all those people gathering around me and the bike, everyone shouting and i have to somehow push my way through the crowds to leave.
Thext couple of days were equally awesome. We went to a really nice beach 20 km north of town for some swimming in the perfectly temperated Indik, to the fishmarket, seen the building site of the 250 Mio.dollar american embassy (!), been to a concert at a cultural centre with artist area and lots of things to see, had awesome food and lots of beer. Just some nice restdays with wonderful people, time to roam around the city and meet people, maybe find someone to join me on the bike.
One thing that strikes me more and more is how obvious corruption or similar misbehavings of officials are in all those countries so far. And how it spreads through all stages of business, economics and politics. Everyone knows about it and can tell horrible stories. And i get to realize how much damage it does. Like the 250 millions us embassy. They build this massive building from tax money on the outskirts of maputo to show how much they like mozambique, represent the us in the middle of nowhere and to give a hundred mozambicans a place to work? I don't think so and the official statement reads like a joke. And it's not only on this high level of governmental positions. Let's take for example the day Fernando took me to the beach. It's north out of Maputo along the beach. Once out of town, there's nothing going on on a 4 lane road (actually the road the new us embassy is on, more at the beginning). But there's maybe 2 cars per minute on this road. Either really bad planning or someone wanted to do his chinese friends a massive favor giving them the contract for a 20 km long freeway that no one (but me, yeah thanks was a peaceful ride) will use. At Marracuene the chinese are building a road to the nicest beach around Maputo (40 km out of town due to pollution). For years now there is only the concrete bridge in existence the next 5-7 km are horrible and take you maybe 20 minutes on the bumpiest road ever, through wetlands and lots of begging kids (because the cars are that slow and it's not the poor people going to that beach). But the bridge has expensive stainless steel railings. You can't make it much more obvious. And everyone knows about it. Still there's nothing to do about it. The next politician in line will just be the same, while quite some of the succesful good politicians in africa were just more or less obviously killed with the help of the CIA or other foreign secret services. (Research Thomas Sankara, Samora Machel, Patrice Lumumba). So it is something that is happening in the open, which most people know a lot about, but almost no one can do anything about it and there's close to no consequences. In some countries there's enough stories of how corrupt the Corruption Investigation Units are. You get busted- just pay them off, it works hand in hand. To say that this doesn't slow down africa in its develeopment would just be a lie. It just helps some to get richer because they can always pay each other off and have advantages over the physical working and poor majorities of these countries. Who's investing all the money in big business here? Chinese, Indian, European and US companies. What helps them to get into business here? Their money. There's no competition, which african company could compete with the sheer money power and dominance of Coca Cola, Nestle and all those other shit companies? There's bars, restaurants or taverns in the middle of nowhere that are simply filled just with coke products. I'd say, 95 per cent of the softdrinks here are coke products. So what will happen if a local company tries to break this dominance - Yeah Coca Cola just has to put some money in the right places. And where is all that money going? It's probably not staying here. African presidents prefer holiday villas in the caribbean, not in the tete province of mozambique. The money that those big food companies make is not spent in africa, most of it is moving back to bank accounts in europe or the US. And there is no tax on these international money transfers. I don't know to which country Coca-Cola is paying tax to, but certainly it's not mozambique.
The day i finally make it out of Maputo I'm taking this exact road and after maybe 15 km i ride past a man walking alone on this massive empty road. So i stop and ask him where he's going and if he wants a lift. He's speaking very little english but somehow i manage to explain to him and he just jumps on the bike. And man, he has some strong legs. We're speeding towards marracuene. Because of the language situation this leads to really funny situations. Somehow we manage to talk about the most basic things like what's your name and where i am going. But i fail to find out where he wants to go. People chat to him along the road and whenever they ask "onde" or where to? He always goes "Ethiopia". I'm really surprised he makes it sound so convincing, as if he's also going there now. I start believing he just decided to come all the way. Well, ok i found a co- driver for the next 6000 km and with the speed that he makes we will be there in the blink of an eye. Strange but i really start thinking he just joined me now for an undefined time. Can he just do that? I find it fascinating, really funny but also scary. Mr. Stronglegs just decided to go to ethiopia. But then at one point he just goes: Ok, stop, I'm home.
He would have walked those 40 km.
Arriving in Manhica I end up at the policestation again, but again the policemen are really nice, organizing a bath for me and a matress. By the look of it I decide to put my own matress on top. At this part of Mozambique the country begins to be really tropical. Lots of palmtrees and sand. As soon as you leave this endless road which is N1, you end up on sandroads with sand as deep as your ankles. I am bound to stay on the main road otherwise i end up in deep sand pushing a 50 kg bike on tires without profile. The longer i am going in a new country the more i realize the small differences in people, architecture, landscapes, vegetation and animals. Travelling slow on a bike you just have so much time to take it all in. So, mozambique: very friendly people, lots of butterflies, frogs and palmtrees, old portuguese colonial buildings and sand. Everywhere there's sand. It will be quite flat for the next 1000 kilometres which will be nice for cycling but i am not expecting lots of nice views. What makes me happy is the culture and how i am feeling more and more comfortable with the people (which always takes a short time in a new country) and to just walk around in the villages. In the evenings sometimes i like to have a beer at one of the local bars and i get a nice surprise. There's very fine beer here, laurentina preta, i think i'm in love with this brew.
The food also is really nice, all those tropical fruits, pineapple, coconuts, oranges and papaya everywhere. Here, people start eating loads of shima everyday, some sort of maize flour sticky stuff which you can have with all kinds of vegetables. The poorer the people the more unbalanced the diet usually is, resulting in malnutrition signs such as the typical watermelon size bellys of some of the kids. For sure mozambique has a very special atmosphere about it which makes it stand out from a lot of other african countries.
The next stop is Macia where N1 is taking a big offturn off the coast. I get closer and closer to the parts of the coast which are dominated by beautiful and remote lagoons. In Macia the policemen are rather strange at first. They question me a lot of useless questions, tell me that they don't believe in my stories and that i must be earning a lot of money doing it. They leave a rather agressive impression on me but just when I am about to decide that it is too much trouble staying here they suddenly turn their attitude by 180 degrees, showing me the place to sleep on the floor and the shower. Thats how it is sometimes, as if it is a test they are confronting me with provoking questions or straight away telling me i can't stay just to change their minds 2 minutes later. It can be quite annoying, policemen showing their power like this. At least i don't have to bribe my way through mozambique.
On my way out of Macia i see an odd traveller walking next to the road with a huge backpack. Yeah i was praying for this oppurtunity, finally someone who might join me for more than just 2 hours. So i stop with the words "hey man, you look like you could need a ride", his eyes popping. The dude introduces himself as Ilia from Israel originally, but currently living in Angola and travelling Mozambique to visit friends in Inhambane. He's telling me this part of moz is something like his favorite place in africa and it truly is beautiful. The people, the lagoons, jungle and ocean. We are having a lot of fun riding towards Xai-xai and on the way crossing the not so mighty but huge estuary limpopo river. Riding into the market of Xai-xai was an adventure in itself and Ilia's portuguese skills are a big improvement to the travels. We decide to end the day by finding a place at Xai-xai beach which is just 10 km off the road but the road proves to be hard to cycle. All up and down and the last 1 km is a crazy steep downhill. On the way we meet the car convoi of the president but he seems to ignore us on our strange bike. Shame, would have loved to chat with him about where all the money goes to. Arriving at the beach we meet the owner of a lodge who generously offers us a place at bamboo lodge, on the beach. Totally worth going there and having this heartstopping moment going through a sandpit, appearing out of nowhere on that downhill, full speed. Leaving next day we have to improvise since there is no way to make it with two people up this hill. Ilia is hitchhiking back to the main road and i realize how fast you are sometimes by bike, as i am waiting for him for 15 minutes.
Ilia unfortunately has to leave me this day because he has to be in Inhambane the same day which will take me two to three days. So at one point he gets a car and I am continuing on my own along endless N1. One of the next evenings i stop at a village where loads of people dressed white just came from a wedding and i ask for a place to stay. One man with short dreadlocks offers to take me in and we cycle to his place, then follow a footpath for a couple of hundred metres into the bush. First thing we have to do is introduce me to the chief so we proceed there, crossing the village and chat to all the people we meet on the way. And seeing a white man here, well everyone is a little excited to say the least. I just love to walk around these villages, meeting the people and learning how they are related, to see how the people live and what they are planting. The guitar helps a lot to get the kids excited and dancing. And i get surprised a lot not only by how friendly and welcoming people are, in some places the food amazes me a lot. Like here, we have pasta with beans but the beans are cooked in coconut water so it has a really nice and unusual taste for me. The next day i offer to take my host on the bike to Inhambane, which lies on a peninsula but is well worth visiting or so a lot of people told me. Through Ilia i got the contacts to a local artist, Chana, who is offering to take me in, so of course I am taking his offer.
The day cycling with my host from the night before is quite nice, we grab some food in Inhambane, drive around town a bit and i immediately fall in love with this nice place. A lot of portuguese influence, old colonial builings as well as african culture, music, small cafés and a nice market. In general a nice town, not too crowded and with a lot of interesting places to see. Late afternoon my host has to leave me to reach home and his family, so we go to the bus station and i pay him for the trip back. I get to realize, in these poor countries, if i want to have co- drivers on the bike i will at least have to pay them to be able to go home after a day or two. But this is quite cheap and I usually offer people to join that have given me a place to stay it feels like an exchange and I am more than happy to be able to give something back. A daytrip on a special bike, some nice food, a short getaway from the village. Otherwise it feels strange to be staying with people that have so little things, living in such challenging circumstances but then going there and being served with food and overwhelming hospitality.
Then i head over to the casa de cultura, the cultural institution in Inhambane, where Chana is working. He's still busy so I have some time to head to the harbour and enjoy an incredible Inhambane sunset, reading a book with some nice bread from the local bakery i will be going to a lot the next days. Then we head towards Chanas place a couple of km out of town, a true artists home! Paintings and art everywhere, the house is built from a lot of natural materials and Chana is a dedicated cook. I love to join and learn how to prepare these mozambican meals, we always have nice music and a lot of things to talk about. He is quite famous in Inhambane (and maybe in whole mozambique soon) and always knows where to go to get certain things. I have such a nice time, exploring this nice town, meeting people, visiting famous tofo beach with its nightlife and concerts, meeting artists and experiencing the spirit of Inhambane.
I also meet Rita, who is a masseuse at the touristy beach sites and lives in a palmtree village between tofo and inhambane in a wonderful house. That close to the sea, Mozambique, which is aleady quite tropical, feel like the Caribbean: Sand and palmtrees. At the point when i wanted to leave the area but fall sick for a couple of days, Rita takes me in and i spend 2 quite relaxed days at her home, reading through her english books, eating very nice seafood and trying to get back on track. Reading mindblowing books and relaxing at tofo beach also helped a lot dealing with the necessity to rest and get back in cycling shape but feeling the need to be on the bike rightaway.
One evening coming back from tofo on a Chapa (which is the typical, horrible minibus in moz) we suddenly pass by a horrible scene: a jeep has hit a child at night. The kids motionless body is just lying there, no one goes close to it. A couple of metres away a group of women is crying. This also is africa: So much tragedy. The people speed like crazy, they are drunk and reckless up to a point where you start questioning life in general, being on a pickup without lights, 120 kph from tofo to inhambane. Its dark and people walk on the narrow road carelessly. The Chapadriver stops for 10 seconds then speeds off. Next 10 km to inhambane there is no ambulance going towards the accident. Tragedy and people dying for no reason, africa can turn dangerous instantly. That's why people here laugh so much, especially when bad things happen. You laugh at fate so it doesn't crush you.
After this wonderful time I get the usual lesson in how to leave places and people that i loved to be with. This difference, suddenly being released again into rural africa, leaving friends, thousands of kilometres from home, this feeling can be very strong. But together with it comes infinite freedom, total freedom of movement and freedom in how to organize my days. If everything works out fine and i meet awesome people that take me in and that i can connect with, it is because of my decisions, if everything turns into chaos and catastrophe it is because of me and i can't rely on anyone to solve these problems but myself. And travelling in africa for such a long time, there will be problems.
Luckily chana wants to join me on the bike for a day and after a short visit to the market of Maxixe we have an easy day of cycling to a place where he has friends that take me in. And welcome me with an evening that I won't forget. There were only children and women in the relatively rich household and i guess it was friday because the women went into drinking mode, listening to local pop music in front of the TV. On african, membrane- popped- a- year- ago- speakers. While i tried to sleep in the same room.
Next day i rolled out to catch up on time and make it to Vilanculos as fast as possible. Quite a nice feeling cycling around there, passing through some interesting towns, being mobbed while eating and pitching my tent behind the world's smallest policestation. Everydays life on the road. Mozambique turns more and more into a real adventure the further i make it away from Maputo. And then for maybe 20 km the impression of nature surrounding me suddenly changes when i spot the first Baobabs. They must have a quite small biological niche, they only grow in very small areas but change nature and vegetation more than any other plant. I feel like i jumped into a fantasy or science fiction movie. Maybe Alice in wonderland. These trees with their massive trunks look so surreal and give villages or countryside such a special atmosphere. Some of them look like they are multiple thousand years old and are so massive it looks like art, not a plant. Especially when these changes in landscape or vegetation happen i feel so happy and blessed to be on the bike and in direct contact with my surroundings that the next day is effortless. Just to be able to stop anytime, to go and see these trees or animals from closer amazes me and gives me energy to continue.
Arriving in Vilanculos I was a bit disappointed at first. There is nothing special about the town, just one main street with the usual african things going on. Which is amazing enough don't get me wrong. Africa and african people are so entertaining. I could sit around a nice spot watching people and what's going on for ages. Something funny, strange or sad will happen soon. But vilanculos was too much only about the beach and the lodges. And whenever there is this amount of tourists and the possibility of making money the locals are way more intrusive. Which is their job and chance obviously and a constant reminder of how privileged I am, just bumming around on a bicycle for an almost infinite amount of time. But this also makes the two class society worldwide so obvious, being instantly treated as the person that has so much money that he will buy random things all the time. Just because he can. It is so far from meeting people eye to eye, because for those guys trying to force me to buy in the end it is only about the money they could earn. Its not about anything else, whenever I try to change the conversation to different subjects. Happened in tofo trying to read on the beach when every 2 minutes someone approached me and actually forced me to listen to the usual phrases. The only way to deal with it is to be very distinctive if not rude right from the beginning, which is not something that I enjoy doing. So in Vilanculos I am not going to the beach at all, 20 metres from the backpackers. Restday means washing, fixing things, planning, trying to find people to join the trip and resting.
I heard there is an immigration office at the airport in vilanculos which then is not able to extend my 30 days visa. Or they just don't want to. Or they don't have ink for the stamp. Who knows, TIA, this is africa. Big problem. That leaves me with either a trip back to Inhambane for 7 hours or a push to chimoio, 470 km in less than 5 days. Hanging out with another cyclist and talking to someone so experienced gives me the confidence that I am able to do it. So next morning I start as early as possible into this huge stretch through rural mozambique.
The first 20 km back to the main road go down pretty easy, after that i pick up a nice tailwind and speed to the north. From Vilanculos to the nort it is no mans land, hundreds of kilometres and no people. The road turns into one lane at some points or pothole madness. On 40 km lenght the road is so bad that i am faster than the trucks which have to evade all the holes. Every couple of kilometres i pass by a burnt out truck or bus in different stadiums of decomposition. Not too long ago there were rebels fighting and ambushing in some parts of moz. But who knows where that was. Information you can rely on is as rare as politicians that aren't corrupt in this part of the world. Also, I ride in a green tunnel not seeing other humans for 50 km sometimes. I camp wild or at places of some of the few people there. And i love it. The cycling is almost like a spiritual experience, 5 km straight, slight turn to the right, 7 km straight, turn left etc. A lot of time to think, about myself, the trip and what the fuck i am doing at this abandoned place. Nothing to see except trees and some strange animals (like a massive tarantula that is running across the road just before me -which looked really funny, or a huge caterpillar with 5 cm long grey hair - i named it Rattenraupe). At least that makes me go fast. I'm flying, 110 km on the first day, 90 on the second and another 110. At that point I am quite sure i can make it to Chimoio before my visa runs out. Which then means I have to turn off the planned route. The days get quite a routine at this point, waking up at 6, big breakfast, cycling till two, grab food, cycle till 5 or 6 latest, find a place, set the tent, cook and sleep at eight. Back home it would drive me crazy, out here at this crazy place it's just what i have to do to keep moving instead of fighting the lazy man inside my head that wants to take a day off.
Being on the road for multiple days in this part of mozambique i get a more and more awkward feeling: How is the huge part of mozambique which is not aligned along N1? It is 500 km to the border in the west, how does it look like and how does it feel like being there? All these small footpaths and dirtroads leaving N1 form a maze, a network of lifelines that i have no chance to understand. It's already too much for my brain walking in the villages, 500 km to the west is a different game. But amazing, not to be understood by european or western people. All these huts, fields and people, sometimes one village spreads out for 10s of kilometres and trying to find a system behind it is impossible. Just don't think about it. Be. That's more what the mozambicans are doing but I can only guess. Most of the time I'm just wondering what the heck is going on in people's heads. And that makes it so interesting to me. That i can't understand what's going on. For example, what is going on in the heads of people crowding me when i have lunch? Some are discussing about the bike for ages, others stare at me eating, others just stare at the bike. Sometimes for 45 minutes straight. Not a single person in europe would do that. There's got to be very little happening in these villages that me eating rice is so interesting.
Upt to Chimoio it's a one full day climb and I am too late, so I stop asking villagers. One young guy, Jojo, is very nice and offers me to take me in at his families house. He's speaking excellent english and takes me around the village to the chief and to the police station. The chief told us to go there. While all my stuff is back at Jojo's place they try to convince me i need to sleep at the policestation. The big boss is quite an asshole, i can instantly tell, he tells me in his village everyone is a thief and it's not safe, i need to give him my passport, the usual blabla. I refuse and tell him I am staying with my friend, that it's nice of him to be concerned about my safety but I will not move all my things over to stay with sketchy policemen. Luckily it works out, I am finally allowed to sleep at Jojo's place inside the clay hut. Awesome.
Next day Jojo and me head off to Chimoio, we go to the market and buy some groceries as a thank you for his family and he boards a bus back home. I have to go to the immigration office to extend my visa and I'm scared how it will work out. But yeah baby, it is 6€ and I can pick it up next morning. Surprisingly easy. I enjoy having a house almost for myself at the pink papaya backpackers, cooking in a kitchen and watching movies on the veranda until i sleep in front of the laptop i borrowed. Good times. During the next two days i explore the town, an amazing rock that looks like a man's face, a house that looks like an airplane and the city itself. Having one or two days off is a reward I sometimes have to give myself.
And then I head out of Chimoio. Such a difference in landscape. A mountainrange on my left that I am following towards Tete and lots of up and downhills. Not tropical anymore but mountaineous. Simply beautiful. I am feeling great, greeting left and ride, some chinese people stop me and supply me with snacks and water before i wildcamp in the bush hoping no one will find me. If someone in africa finds you and wants to talk to you you can't hope to stay asleep. He or she will wake you up at least until you made clear that you really are- or were sleeping- multiple times. The sense of thoughtfulness of other people's needs is not strong in a lot of people here.
When I am descending down from the plateau I'm crossing baobabcountry again and again I am amazed by how beautiful africa is and how different from europe these massive trees make it look. It gets really dry and hot again and I find myself in an environment I've never been at before: Half- desert, rural africa, just villages so far out there, all rivers run dry, only thornbushes and baobabs, people with donkeycarts and beautiful yellow- golden- orange sunsets. And in these dead- dry areas i always keep wondering how the people manage to survive. It is so far from the life I am used as a european, the way how people live, social stuctures and the struggle to survive is so real that it's just impossible for me to understand. Because of this massive lack of water even subsisdency farming is not possible anymore. Everywhere else in mozambique so far it was green and tropical. Here, there's none of it. I've seen people waiting in dried out riverbeds, holes dug out, waiting for some water to rise in these holes. It feels like it is an environment where I, as a human being just shouldn't be around. There's no life here. Still people somehow manage to survive. And it feels weird to be there as a european who doesn't understand it at all. Being right there surrounded by this environment but still in a third person perspective. I am about to move. I will be there for one week, not all my life. I don't have to deal with the hard life, i go to a shop and buy some water, or i pass by a well anyways. In whole mozambique i was always drinking the water from the boreholes, carrying around the plastic bottles back from swaziland until they fell apart. But it also feels so great, cycling here, greeting the people, having the wind in my face and experiencing these very special sunsets here.
Just before tete i ask some guys on the road where the police station is. First they tell me, but when i ask for details they offer to show me where it is. 2 guys join me on their bikes, but as soon ss we're there of course they want money. And I have to tell them to leave because this way of foing people a favour they didn't even ask for and then asking for loads of money to show you a place 1 km away is so annoying, just because it constantly happens. Every little favour, everytime you are in desperate need for help, you will have this in the back of your mind. Fighting about money with guys that at first seemed to do you a favour, which then proves, just because they hope you will pay them.
In tete i have to pick up my new credit card, apart from that i don't see a whole lot in this city, which seems quite boring. Even the Sambesi river crossing is unspectacular, i just want to pass through. Except for one drunk guy, running backwards next to the bike shouting at me and grabbing the steering nothing happens. When i push him away he flailing across the street into a minibus, luckily at slow speed. I don't like these drunk people, at 10 o clock in the morning flailing around in the middle of the main road, provoking people. But it's a common view. There's just nothing to do and high percentage gin and liquor satchets are like 30 cents. In every village I can immediately tell where they are, at all these roadside bars getting hammered in the morning.
After that the last stretch to malawi is beautiful. After moatize, a huge miner's city and a night on the shared grounds of a massive policestation and a primary school i am in rural mozambique again. Yes, it was a strange sight, 20 men and women with ak-47 and pumpguns and 300 children on the same ground.
One beautiful evening wildcamping close to a dried out river all by myself, relaxing and cooking and then it is uphill into the mountains of the border to malawi. The views are unbelievable as well as the feeling that sometimes hits me of how huge africa is. Cycling 80 km isn't even visible on my map. Makes me feel lost and lonely sometimes. The area of Zóbue is beautiful, green and mountaineous. People in sorcerers animalistic dresses bless the fields of some people. And then it is time to leave my beloved mozambique. Such a special country to me and such a long distance. I met wonderful people and had a great time without big trouble on these 1800 km, that's for sure. But I am also looking forward to a change and a new country, new people and different adventures: Malawi, here i come!