In the morning half-wakefulness the gubb gubb gubb of the turkeys outside my room sounded like ‘up up up’, meaning ‘north! north! north!’. I head north from Pemba to Quissanga, the next town along the coast.
Within a couple of minutes of walking I can see that Quissanga is exactly the sort of place that will end up in a holiday broschure as ‘the real Mozambique’. Its the first time I’ve noticed the Swahili (meaning coastal people) influence. I am called muzungu (Swahili for white man) for the first time, and welcomed by an aging woman sitting at the front stoop of her home with ‘salaama, welcome’. Aside from the daily ‘bus’ departures towards Pemba and electricity, the town really can’t have changed much for a very long time.
The pickup that took me to Quissanga takes me back to the junction 3 hours away. The road feels just as long, tough and tiring. I have to use all my muscular strength to stop bruising too badly. Some bruising is inevitable.
In the hour and a half I’m waiting at the junction 5 vehicles pass in the right direction. That’s less than one every 15 minutes on the main arterial northern route. I flag down a pickup. Its heading inland, but consulting my map agrees to drop me off at Chai. The good tarmac road just becomes awful. I’m flung into the air by the bumps constantly, trying to avoid the slit-throated dikdik that will be someone’s dinner, and two live chickens, which will also be someone’s dinner. The advantage of our ridiculous speed is that we arrive in Chai pretty quickly. I try getting off as soon as I can but I’m wobbly for a couple of minutes.
After another hour or so’s wait I’m on a tranport truck heading to Mocimboa da Praia. The road is bad even for the strong suspension of the truck. We don’t arrive in Mocimboa until 9pm. I’ve been travelling for 15 hours.