The Mosquito Coast

The unchanged face of Mozambique’s countryside

For long distance transport from Imhassoro I’m told I must first go to Maluwane 15km away, less of a town worthy of a name, more of a T junction on the road. At the felled tree trunk that serves as a waiting room I wait with 4 or 5 others also trying to head north. Things don’t look too promising; there’s barely any vehicles at all. I’m astonished to see a vehicle, exactly like an English single decker bus, approach with Maxixe-Beira written on a card in the window.

Mozambique has now become a country of big leaps. There is very little on the coast between Imhassoro and Beira, and again north of Beira. Mozambique is huge. Consider the size of Madagascar. Then consider that its coastline almost perfectly fits into that of Mozambique.

Its easy enough to get a taxi in Beira, a room is a little harder:

“Good evening” I say, “do you have a room?”

“Yes”

“Okay, I’ll have it.”

“Pay the money and you can have the key” says the receptionist.

“Can I pay tomorrow? I don’t have enough money on me.”

“Yes”

“Good.” Not much happens. “Can I have the room then please?”

“Pay the money and you can have the key”…

Maybe its because the sun has managed to penetrate the cloud (its the rainy season in East Africa), but I like Beira. There are plenty of squares, shaded by the occasional tree; architectural wonders siting next to petrol stations. There’s a lovely laid back feeling; no hassle; no stress. Moving on again entails some hassle and stress.

I thought getting a long distance coach rather than minibus ‘guaranteed’ a better bus and no stop/starting. In northern Mozambique it doesn’t. Northern Mozambique remains pristine, meaning very poor. We pass little but tall grasses and round reed huts. The Zambezi bridge is much longer than the river is wide, the river perhaps being “as wide as the Thames at Westminster” to quote Mungo Park talking of the Niger. The 9 hour journey takes 12, and brings me to Quilemane.
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