Up and down the road

The tar runs into smooth-ish orange clay that’s just beginning to become crennalated not soon after Mocuba. The sun tries to break through the clouds-cum-mist over the vast green of Mozambique in the rains that can’t have changed much in hundreds of years save for the mobile phone masts. We drive for hours seeing not much, following the orange-pink strip across the green.

The women around the guesthouse in Pebane find it hilarious that I would want to wash my own clothes, being a man, offering to do it for me. While I wash they are already there replacing the palm-fibre washing line with one of commercial twine, and help me hang it up. They seem surprised that I thank them.

I get up next morning without any clear idea of how I’m moving on, or to where. I spot a man with a ticket book and investigate. By not much more then naming some towns I might want to go to I’m told I can go to Moma (another Pebane-like coastal town), but the transport leaves the following day. I can’t bear to spend another day in Pebane (more happens in the inside of my shoe than in Pebane). The alternative is back to Mocuba and on from there.

Its a mad scramble to get on top of the cargo before the other 30 people. I can tell you a bag of coconuts is not as nice to sit on as the bag of yams I had used in Cameroon. My position has hand holds of rope: the gritty covering of which cuts and rubs at my hands, and is very insecure. I have to fight to keep my centre of balance in the right place: over the flatbed of the truck rather than the flowerbeds of passing houses. Slotting my bum into a gap between cargo and coconuts I’m safe, secure, and pretty comfortable. We arrive, one side of me almost entirely orange from the road dust.

The alarm goes off at 3.30am so I can pack up and head off for a 5 o’clock bus to Nampula. I’m not interested. I wake at 8.30 and take my chances with transport. At first we follow the road to Pebane and on towards the village of Mugeba. I think perhaps I’ve made a terrible mistake, misunderstanding what the guy was saying, destined to spend my life on the Mocuba-Pebane road. At Mugeba we turn off, and I relax.

At Alto Molucue I’m only looking lost for a couple of minutes before I’m offered a seat em frente (up front) to Nampula. The scenery gets spectacular again, small mounds of rock sticking barnacle-like to the earth, clouds playing with the light.
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