We have been so lucky these past two months to be busy with visitors and vacations. First was our amazing trip with Jackson up north and up Mulanje.
Next was our incredible week in Mozambique. In Malawi, we get two days off work for Easter, and because it was close to another public holiday it meant that by taking four days holiday, you ended up with 11 consecutive days of vacation. And where better to spend a holiday than on the glistening white sand beaches of central Mozambique? So off we went, four of us crammed in Jen’s little Mazda (named Chimwemwe) on a week-long trip south to Vilankulo.
Formerly a colony of Portugal, the decolonization process was bitter and violent, and was followed by a era of long bloody civil war. It’s only been the past decade or so that Mozambique has become better known for its beaches than its land mines. We had been warned that travel in Mozambique wasn’t easy. One friend had her backpack stolen and lost everything. Another told tales of her hotel room being ransacked and losing everything. Another told of stopping to buy petrol and someone removing parts of their car and selling it back to them. Another told of getting so that whenever he was stopped by police, he would roll down the window, hand them a wad of cash and be waved on. We have another friend who was heading to the beach and finally turned around and went home to Malawi after a harrowing police experience. Needless to say, we were really hoping that the beach was going to be worth it.
Ready to pay bribes, steeled against Mozambican unpleasantness (we were, after all, coming from Malawi – the warm heart of Africa), and hoping we’d make it in one piece, we were shocked by the friendliness, generosity, and helpfulness that we encountered. At the border, the Mozambican agents were ten times friendlier than the Malawian ones. While waiting for clearance, we made friends with forex dealers. At every police checkpoint, the police were warm, joking, and friendly. Several asked if they could come with us. No one asked for a bribe (except the one that asked for a beer) and most were thrilled to meet people from Malawi and used it as an opportunity to show off their Chichewa. When we attempted our words in Portuguese, they smiled and gently corrected us or taught us new words. While we did get one speeding ticket, it was deserved, and the police were joking with us the whole time.
After two days of travel we finally made it to Vilankulo. It used to be a sleepy little town known for its excellent diving and snorkeling. While it’s still famous for the diving, it’s become a bit bigger and
hosts numerous restaurants and upscale hotels. We stayed at a lovely new lodge, Beach Village, right on the ocean with private en suite chalets. While the management left something to be desired, the staff were friendly, the food was good, and the location stunning.
Situated on a long stretch of white sand beaches, you can see the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago in the distance. The islands are protected as a national park, and one of the highlights of a visit to Vilankulo is to sail to an island in an old fashioned dhow, snorkel, and eat a freshly prepared seafood feast on the beach. There is also an island with a huge sand dune – you can climb to the top and see for miles. Life’s rough, eh?