(12 December 2014)
This is a story about two chickens undertaking an expedition to Mozambique – the biggest beach in the world!
With limited time, Michelle and me planned on riding from Pretoria to Xai Xai in one day, spend three days in Moz, and head back to homeland in one day again. How long could it take to cover 750kms???
We started our engines at 6am…
Filled our tanks, topped up the reserve cells…
And mentally bull-poeffied our brains that this would be an easy, quick ride.
For a mid-summer ride, we froze our twinkies off. I’m not sure what a twinkie is, but we don’t have those anymore.
We decided to pulled over for a Mor(e)licks to warm our guts.
But we had to push on as the clouds started gathering. We didn’t even make it all the way to Middelburg when the heavens sprung a leak. Being a chicken with some duck tendencies, I’ve never owned a rain suit – so wet we were…
The gooses stopped at Old Joe’s and said good morning to the big boulder.
At Nelspruit we pulled over for a slap-tjips lunch. Luckily they also sold nuts… We needed some extras for the rest of our expedition.
Dá Deus nozes a quem não tem dentes.
(God gives nuts to those who don't have teeth)
So, we’ve traveled through cold, we traveled through rain… we were short of some wind. But not to despair!
Quem semeia colhe
(Who sows winds, reaps storms)
The gusts were plucking these chickens all over the road. If we weren’t so heavily loaded (…Jack Daniels, tequila and wine), it might have swept us clean off the road. We were actually thanking Notus, the god of wind, by the time we got blown just short of the border.
As we stopped and parked at the border, prepping ourselves for a lengthy stay, an old Dutch toppie walked up and started chatting to us about the bikes and just other unimportant but meaningful topics. His name was Cees and he asked if we knew how this border thingy worked. He took the time to tell us where and whom to harass, how many stamps to collect and all this without once dropping a bribe over a counter.
When we told him that we were planning on trodding through Maputo to Xai Xai, he suggested the dirt back road. But we didn’t know the way and he then even offered to meet up with us on the other side of the border and escort us. What a cool chaperone!!!
Cees was adamant that we would survive the ‘dirt’ road on the DR’s.
The first 40 clicks were a top class alleyway.
But soon after, we had to start ripping out the sunscreen and bikini’s…
Welcome to the MozamBEACH!
Michelle enjoyed watching me building sand castles; I just didn’t manage in the thick sand… We kept ploughing on, though we were running low on gas, had no idea where we were, had no cell phones, the sand just kept getting thicker… loser… more malicious and TIME WAS RUNNING OUT.
So thus far we’ve had cold, rain, wind, a border crossing and sand (in the middle of iewers). Tick, tick, tick! What was next on our list? Uuhhmmm… How about a water crossing?!? Nah! Let’s upgrade that to a Mid-Atlantic ocean crossing.
With lots of bravado I just wanted to plons on ahead, when a bakkie came from the front and I saw how deep this little pond REALLY was. I’m convinced there was a hippo or two hiding in the shallow end. But I inflated my big-girl vlerkies and swam through – UNdrowned.
Quem não arrisca não petisca.
(Nothing ventured, nothing gained)
I walked back to fetch KAPOW (Michelle’s DR) and told Michelle to get on the back. But with the luggage strapped on the back, there was no space for even a petit flipside like hers. I made her climb the luggage mountain and told her to hold onto my helmet…
We made it through this ocean and hic-hicked into the next town on the last fumes of petrol.
Finally! There was bitumen. The prettiest, bluest, smoothest, driest piece of bitumen you’ve ever seen. It was the last stretch to destination Xai Xai and our bums had finished it quota of sitting for the day.
We got to the bustling town of Xai Xai at 8pm in the dark. May I just note that there is no such thing as road rules in Mozambique. No following distances. No stopping - EVER. No indicators. No right of way. BUT – the reassuring thing is that nobody speeds. Everything happens at 20kays an hour. It’s like watching a horror movie at 10 frames per second.
We got a bit lost and had to turn around, but with vehicles overtaking you on both sides even standing on the side of the road, it was safer to ride around the block. The block aka THE GHETTO! There were no lights and the road wasn’t made for any form of motorized transport. As we kept rolling past empty food cans and chips packets, over mountains of rubbish, down garbage slides we attracted quite a bit of attention. We had to keep rolling in fear of being mugged… or falling over in a puddle of trash. When we finally made it back to the tar road, both of us just sat there staring with disbelieve into the darkness. Africa… we love it – PROMISE – we love it!
We finally found the 4km dirt road to the lodge. Dirt?!? No matter how hard I tried to explain to Michelle that Mozambique does not have an ounce of ‘dirt’ – they only know the substance called SAND, she would not believe me. By now it was way past our drinking time and when my front wheel dipped into the thick beach sand I knew this was gonna be the longest 4 kilos of our lives. After 14 hours on the bikes, we were tired, sore, and thirsty and it was probably the darkest spot in deep dark Africa.
De noite todos os gatos são pardos.
(At night all cats are grey)
We almost made 2 kilos when Michelle plonked over. I could not even park my bike as I was chain deep in the sand. Luckily someone stopped behind her and helped her up. With luck this was Stiaan, the owner of the lodge. He went looking for us when he started getting concerned that we hadn’t pitched up yet.
For Michelle this was the end of the day. NO MORE!
É muita areia para a minha camioneta.
(This is too much sand for my truck.)
Stiaan then left us to go fetch help.
In the meantime I decided we had to finish this trip on own steam. I would ride her bike 200m past mine, park, and run back in the dark to Brom, ride him 200m past Kapow, park, stumble back in the dark, ride Brom 200m past Kapow, park, pant back in the dark, etc. But about 1km from camp Stiaan came back with his son, Louis, who offered to ride Kapow back for Michelle. I think she might have even offered him every cent of Metical she had on her.
Lesson learned from day one:
Skinny’s harregatgeid only stretches 1.2 km further than Michelle’s guts!
Day one was done!
The next day was Michelle’s birthday and Montego Resort spoiled her with a birthday breakfast.
I surprised her with a birthday cake. Believe me, it’s not easy riding for 14 hours on end knowing you can’t drop your bike because you’ve got a cake hidden in your luggage.
For the rest of the day we just did the Moz tourist thing – NOTHING!
The next day we braved the sand again and headed back into town to spend some Meticais. On the way we bought prawns cheap-cheap, home delivered by guys on little 150cc’s that have obviously done an ADA DP2 skills course. They had no problem with the sand.
Armar-se em carapau de corrida.
(He was like a racing mackerel)
We visited the market where Michelle had to replace some of her panties. After the ride down, she had a few holes that needed to be covered.
There was a padstal in the previous town 60 km away, named Sun City and they sold ‘Yskoue Bier’. We had to go investigate. We found not only yskoue bier, but the lady behind the counter that could not speak a word Afrikaans OR English, played the complete CD of Bok van Blerk while we competed in a game of Checkers.
On the way back we stopped at one of the deserted hotels on the beach. Seems like hotels in Moz has an expiry date, because only one in every six was still occupied.
While we sat next to the bikes taking a Jack break, one of that Kamikaze 150’s came to a screeching halt next to us. Michelle still wanted to complain that is was gonna be one of those street vendors trying to sell us stuff, when I stopped her. THIS IS MY KIND OF SHOPPING! The shops come to us. Before long we had five or six of these guys laying their goods out in front of us. Xmas shopping done!
We were still browsing the goods when I heard my name? There was Simone and some of her friends in a white bakkie. We had to go share a shot of R&R at the restaurant.
(The time spent around the table after lunch or dinner, talking to the people you shared the meal with; time to digest and savour both food and friendship)
Last kay back to camp and this was NOT, may I repeat? This was NOT because of one too many R&R’s…
The last day we were drowning in water. It kept raining nonstop. The road out to the tar was flooded. We had to leave the next morning early, but taking a dip before a 14 hour ride back home, weren’t scheduled in our plans.
Luckily Stiaan offered to piggy-back us to the tar in his van.
Thanks to Stiaan, Mone and Louis for an awesome holiday in Mozambique.
We were their very first reservation. They have an awesome bar, restaurant and deck right on the beach.
We drank too much 2M beer, R&R’s, ate seafood and even found out we all know Johan Gray!
We still had to get home, but first… Maputo! This is a city consisting of a few houses between thousands of cars, trucks and taxis. All covered in a thick layer of sand. Taxis would come flying down the wrong side of the hiway flashing lights and everybody would just gently squeeze out of the way. As if this was normal driving…
A minha alma está parva
(My soul is dumb)
At one stage we got to a section of road works, but unlike in SA they do not divert the traffic. Cars drive around and in-between graders and scrapers. Because of the rain the roads were sludge. As we went through a particularly deep patch of sludge, I looked back to see Michelle wedged between the wheels of one of the graders. She was screaming at the driver, but he couldn’t see her from up in his cockpit. Luckily the guy saw her coming up to the grader and not exiting on the other side. He stopped (thanks for that oke!). I pulled her bike up and she could dislodge herself from the wheels that were twice her height. Luckily she wasn’t hurt, but that was a close call…
Macacos me mordam!
(Monkeys bite me!)
The rest of the ride was without incident and we made it home by 8pm. What a trip!
Ser corajoso. Corre riscos. Nada pode substituir a experiência!
(Be brave, take risks. Nothing can substitute experience!)
YouTube: Skinny van Schalkwyk