Be warned…this post is full of butts!
Our bus to Tofo left at 5am, but in Africa time that meant 7am. We rolled with it. We joined 21 fellow travelers and locals for the 8 hour drive to Tofo in a van. Yes, 23 people in a van. Joshua didn’t even really have a seat, but more of one butt cheek resting on an old lady’s lap and a butt cheek on my seat. There were supplies covering every inch of the floor. One child screamed at a dog-level pitch for a majority of the trip. To put it mildly, it was a very long ride.
Hanni and Gavi sent us to Mozambique with 10 Rand…the equivalent of a little over a dollar…to give away when we arrived. They believe that when you are on your way to do a good deed, you will travel safely. We loved the idea and spent a lot of time deciding who to give it to. First, we needed to exchange it for Mozambique Meticals to make it easier for somebody to actually use. In doing so, Joshua decided to add a little more…for a grand total of 50 Meticals ($2) – enough for a complete meal from the market. In Maputo, we were touched by the women selling coal on the side of the road near our hostel. When we went to give it to them, however, they had packed up to go home. On our bus ride to Tofo, an elderly Mozambiquan man quieted the ever-screaming child for a few minutes. Joshua tried to pass along the money to him, but he didn’t understand before the bus pulled away. Finally, in Tofo, we met (super) Mario. He was responsible for cleaning, repairing and maintaining the hostel we stayed in. When we saw how hard he was working, we knew we had found a person to pass along the money from The Ress’. Joshua told him the story as he was finishing a shower after a long day’s work. Standing in his underwear, Mario wept when we gave him the money from Hanni and Gavi. He told us he was going to use it to buy salt (or so we think…he had an accent) so he could cook for his family that evening. He told Joshua he was an angel. With the money passed on, we were ready to enjoy our trip!
Tofo was a beach heaven in Mozambique. The town is small. The beach is beautiful. We rented a thatched roof beach hut. We ate chicken, drank beers and went to bed early.
We spent one day scuba diving at new depths (part of our advanced certificate). Although, we didn’t see any manta rays, one of the top attractions, the dive was anything but uneventful. On our second dive, we drifted with the current along the reef about 28m below the surface. The current was stronger than we expected and neither Joshua nor I were prepared for it. We followed our guide down the reef—he would stop every few meters to point something out, but the 5 of us would come blowing into him without the ability to stop…on one occasion, Joshua blew straight into a sea urchin. When he turned around, there were 25 or more spines poking through his wetsuit into his butt. I tried to pull them out, but got scolded by the dive master…apparently, that’s a big no-no. With all the commotion, one less dive master in the water (her air tank was leaking) and the exceptionally strong current, it was a cluster trying to round up everybody to surface. I actually ran out of air while we were doing our safety stop 5m below the surface and had to switch to the dive master’s emergency source. When we made it to the boat, we both looked at each other with doubts…is scuba diving for us? Joshua couldn’t sit down all the way back to Tofo because of all the spines in his hand and his rear.
Back at the dive shop, we got Joshua out of his wetsuit and he STILL had spines sticking out of him. When I asked them how to take care of the sea urchin, everyone had their own recipe…lemon…hot water…hit them with a metal spoon. In the end, I pulled out each spine from his butt and then hit him as hard as I could with a flat metal bottle opener to break up the remaining urchin. It’s like glass…the long spines break into tiny pieces and the barbs don’t come out. My job was to break the barbs into smaller pieces so his body had a chance to absorb them; I would know they were broken because each entry point would start to bleed. Otherwise, they can get infected (although, one recommendation was to let them fester and the pus would make them easier to squeeze out). Joshua stood against the wall while I spanked him bloody. It was a terrible experience for both of us.
We also spent one day watching out for whale sharks which are notorious in the area. You can take an “ocean safari” in search of these huge creatures.
Once our guide, Happiness, found one, we got to jump in and swim alongside it.
For a while, I felt like I was all alone, swimming right next to a whale shark…until 3 other boats showed up and their passengers jumped in on top of us. There was kicking and paddling and way too many flippers in the water for my comfort.
Plus, there were loads of jelly fish. One got wrapped around my face/neck and butt and stung me…I always have crazy reactions to bites/stings and this was no different. Moments later, my skin was on fire and I had welts where each tentacle had touched my skin.
We used our disastrous water adventures as an excuse to take a real vacation for the afternoon. We joined a few guys from South Africa, on a mancation, for their daily “lunch” which included peri-peri half chickens, John Deere’s (green crème soda and double vodkas) and multiple beers for everyone. We laughed, told stories and worked our way to the other side of drunk. Rarely do we get the opportunity to take a vacation from all this traveling. Our time with Stu (not pictured), Greg, Erik and Craig was exactly that.
The following morning we pulled a major fast one. Instead of continuing up through Mozambique as we had originally planned, we jumped back on the bus to Maputo en route to Johannesburg. We spoke with several locals who told us about the driving we would have ahead of us…the route was not easy. We realized there would be no way that we would have time to see what we wanted in Africa if we spent most of our time on transport. We decided to find an easier way. We wanted to enjoy our adventure, not worry about what time the buses left. So we did ourselves a favor and booked a month-long safari.