Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Vamos a la Praia!!

Another weekend, another beach excursion. This time I set off with some Canadian friends (Pete, Wes and Caitlin) from Maputo to Macaneta beach again about a half hour north of the city. It’s pretty much the closest beach paradise to Maputo where you can swim in the water without fear of industrial pollutants. We set off bright and early on public transit with all of our camping gear in tow, attracting a combination of stares and snickers from the locals on board. Once we got to the town of Maracuene we had to take a ferry across the river and then hitch a ride the rest of the way to the beach. Local entrepreneurs with rusted out trucks spend the whole day going back and forth from Maracuene to the town of Macaneta carrying Mozambicans and the odd crew of mulungos. We piled into the back of this one guys pick up and along with no less than 20 other locals, making for an extremely tight and chaotic ride. The recent downpours had made the road nearly impassible in some sections and severely tested the resolve of our beat up little half ton. We got stuck on numerous occasions prompting all of the passengers to disembark, stand in the mud and lend their hand in pushing the vehicle out of the sticky situation. It took us over an hour to get through a five kilometer stretch of road under the oppressive mid day sun. Certainly an experience one can only find here in Africa.

When we finally got to Macaneta Beach we were astonished to discover it almost entirely deserted. The hordes of tourists that had crowded the beach on my last visit had all returned to Maputo or South Africa and we practically had the place to ourselves. We asked the manager how much he would charge us to camp and he quoted us a ridiculously inflated number of 70 Rands ($15). Being the cheap Canadian interns that we are, we decided to head up the beach and search out a place to pitch the tents away from the watchful eye of the manager. We spent the whole day exploring the beach, attacking the waves, playing frisbee and trying to catch some of the slower varieties among the hordes of craps that were scattered along the shore. We kept our fluids and our spirits high with Caitlin’s special ice cold sangria and electric lemonaid. Good good times!!

That evening we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the clear sky and a brilliant full moon that illuminated the long stretches of beach and danced upon the rolling tide of the Indian Ocean. We were convinced that we had lost ourselves in paradise until our revelry was cut short by the image of two dark figures approaching our camp. They told us that we were camped illegally and that we would have to speak to the manager immediately. We were initially scared that we would be handed big fines or ordered to leave the park that night but Wes and I summoned up the courage to embark on a sort of diplomatic journey to the manager’s office.

When we got there we were completely surprised to see the manager in a jovial mood, drinking beer and watching music videos. He explained that this was private property and we could not camp without permission. He said if money was a problem we should of just told him and he would have let us stay for free. He saw that we had eaten dinner at the restaurant and he considered that be a sufficient “payment”. He even started asking us about our work and wanted to know if he could apply for a microfinance loan to build a bakery on his property. He wished us a good night and told us to come again. As Wes and I were walking back to our site we figured that the only way in which the situation could have been better would have been if the guy had bought us a beer while he spoke with us. The rest of the evening was full of songs, games and late night dips in the ocean. Truly an unforgettable experience.

The next morning we were all awake by 7:00 AM as the heat from the sun was already unforgiving, making our tents feel like tiny convection ovens. I wish you all could see the tent I bought out here. It’s a cheap little Chinese tent that I picked up for $40. It has a single wire frame that folds into a circle about two and a half feet across. All you do is take it out of the bag, shake it around a bit and “pop” your tent is completely set up. It’s gimmicky, and it keeps the bugs off, but I would be in some trouble I think if it had to stand up to a rain storm. By noon, after another five hours in the sun, we were completely cooked and decided to head back to Maputo. We avoided the shenanigans along the main road and took a boat back to Maraquene, passing lazy little fishing communities and dilapadated colonial villas along the banks of the river. We had an amazing time and we look forward to more chances to explore the natural wonders of this beautiful country. Here are a few more pictures.

Sunset over the Lagoon

Two dogs that followed us around all night and quickly became our companions. We named them Che Guevera (the one on the left) and Samora Machal (the one on the right).

Crabs on the Beach


Anonymous Mom said...

It sounds like you had a great time. I'm surprised that little truck could handle the load. Your pictures are fabulous and I was wondering if that is you in the brown shirt and cropped pants, facing the truck. Please try to stay on good terms with the locals and by the way, your tent sounds pathetic.

Any wild life roaming the beach other than crabs and mangy dogs?

8:07 a.m.  
Anonymous Mom said...

P.S. Glad to hear you are avoiding toxic waste.

8:11 a.m.  
Blogger Big Roddy said...

Sounds like an awesome trip Jared! Hope you didn't catch crabs on the beach, those things can be nasty!

PS: the temerature is finally starting to drop below -17C. Now we'll have a real winter!

PPS: the store is a mess in renovation form. It'll be pretty diffrent when you get back.

PPSSPS: is this too many PSs?

11:37 p.m.  
Blogger jpmozambique said...

Nope that's wes, i'm taking the shot. The only other wild life were the jellyfish and the mosquitos but they weren't too bad.

6:07 a.m.  

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