The first official stop of the trip is the South Africa/Mozambique border post where our passports and respective import/export documents are processed and stamped. On a bad day, you get a customs official who wants to search and inspect every inch of your vehicle. This takes hours. On a good day, you just get waved past. Monday turned out to be a good day in that sense.
Once in Mozambique, the real trek begins. It’s smooth sailing along the toll road for about 45 minutes until you hit Maputo, the capital city, and its seriously snarled traffic.
It’s a bit like an obstacle course with bumper-to-bumper traffic all cutting each other off and beeping and slamming on brakes to avoid hitting the next guy. It would be nice if there was a way to by-pass Maputo, but there isn't. You just have to go through it.
Even once you finally get to the other side of the city, traffic stays heavy and slow for quite a ways. It’s a good time to turn on relaxing music although the contrast between the rhythm inside and the rhythm outside can be so stark it's comical.
The entire trip home takes about 18 hours, so we split it into two 9 hour days. As you head to the more rural north, the traffic thins out and the scenery improves dramatically.
And you become aware of the gradual transition from an area of better development to one of less development.
Inhambane Province. I call this spot "Coconut Alley"
In rural areas there are fewer cars, more animals, more people carrying loads on their heads, and no power lines.
Well, no power lines until just now, that is. This power line (below) is just going in on the Rio Save to Inchope stretch of the trip north.
The supply of power will help to fast-track development. Part of this includes better quality health care and education. This isn't happening in our area yet, but we're hopeful it will come our way.
Although the electrification of rural Mozambique has been slow in coming, cell phone coverage has been around for awhile.
And there is stiff competition between the country’s 2 cell phone moguls: MCEL and Vodacom. The nice thing about this is that in their effort to advertise as widely as possible, the companies offer to paint the many small roadside shops (for free, I believe). They have the choice between Vodacom’s red with white lettering, or MCEL’s yellow and green.
Since Vodacom is the newest kid on the block and it has been very actively promoting, it is not unusual to see all of the roadside shops in small towns painted red.
There's a pretty good balance in this town. Some of the shops even seem to have opted for no free paint.
This little shop gets the best of both worlds.
Anyway, our trip home was safe and we’re now getting back into the rhythm of bush life. Yesterday, a friend who is a pilot and civil engineer spent the afternoon with here kindly giving us valuable input on the next steps to take on finishing the air-strip (contouring and leveling).
Left to right, Kevin, Dwight and Urs (a young man from Switzerland serving the mission for a few months.)
And me? I’m busy converting fabric I picked up into curtains and blinds that are a year and a half overdue for our house. But mostly I’m in the process of recovering files and getting my replacement laptop up to speed. It’s rather a pain, and it’s very time consuming. One of the nice things about having to do review and update the files and programs, however, is that I’ve been able to do some necessary editing and streamlining.
Have a good week all.