The joy of public transit in Mozambique
01.07.2012 - 02.07.2012
Yesterday, Jack, Kate, and I set out from Tofo to Vilanculos, a beach town around 250 km north of Tofo. Getting here was another adventure in Mozambique public transit!
Our journey began yesterday morning at 4:30 with a walk down a dark, sandy road to the market to catch a chapa to Inhambane. We only had to wait around 20 minutes for the chapa to leave and it wasn’t even packed full! We drove to Inhambane and had to find the ferry across the bay to Maxixe, and luckily I asked the right person for directions; he was a teacher on his way to an English exam in Maxixe and took us all the way to the ferry and even helped us buy tickets!
The ferry was a bit different than we expected -it was a small boat with a motor literally taped to the back. The boat was packed full of people and packages…I was pretty nervous that we wouldn’t make it across the bay! It was a lovely morning though, the bay was misty and there were a few dhows (Arabic sail boats) on the water, and we made it safely to Maxixe. Our friend showed us the chapa station and wished us luck! He even helped negotiate a somewhat reasonable fare for us (even though we know we paid more than anyone else).
This is where our journey went downhill. We were forced to sit at the back of the chapa, where the seat is a bit higher up than the other seats, and even my head was touching the roof. We were so crammed in that I couldn’t move my legs or even fully relax my shoulders, and one of my arms was pinned against the window. We sat like this for three full hours before the chapa was full enough to go. Since we were at the back, and the trunk wasn’t shut, it was just tied closed, we had fumes coming in and soon we were all very very drowsy. I’m glad I was passed out most of the way though, I don’t know how I would have survived the uncomfortable journey otherwise! When we finally made the turnoff to Vilanculos the nightmare didn’t end, we just kept stopping along the road. At one point the driver just got out and stood around for awhile!
Our luck changed once we got here though. We were standing by the chapa waiting for our change, and a lovely Italian lady asked us where we were staying and if we wanted a lift! We are staying at a little backpacker lodge right on the beach. The village is very lazy, with sandy, palm-tree lined streets that all lead to the beach. I’ve managed to reunite with Joe (from my overland trip) and am looking forward to a few days of not being in a chapa!