Sunday, December 02, 2007
Which is to say, g'day (or howzit) in Portuguese.
Mrs Blog and I have just returned to home base in Pretoriuskop Camp, Kruger National Park, after a four-day sojourn to Mozambique in search of inspiration (for book 6), sun, prawns and different brands of beer. I can report we were successful on all fronts. I'm inspired, sun-burned, stuffed to the gunwales with seafood and several kilos heavier thanks to 500ml cans of various local brews (a very sensible quantity for any beverage in Africa and much better than South Africa, where a paltry 340ml is the norm).
We decided to fly from Johannesburg to Vilanculos, the closest airport to the Bazaruto Archipelago, rather than drive Tonka there because... well, becaused we couldn't be arsed driving 1000km. Better, we reasoned, to spend more of our remaining time in Africa chilling in Kruger and watching animals than driving vast distances on bad roads at 75kph.
It was quite the international-leisure-set thing to do, flying into Mozambique, although our well-heeled, well-dressed fellow passengers all seemed to be jumping on transfers out to luxury resorts on the beautiful islands of the archipelago once we arrived at the grandiosley-named Vilankulo International Airport (in reality a bumpy strip with a WWII-style air traffic control bunker), unlike us, who stayed in a B&B in Vilanculos.
Actually, Pameiros Lodge, where we stayed, was much nicer than it looked on the internet. Nice gardens, spotlessly clean, and well-run by some Zimabwean expats, it was situated just across the dirt track from the beach.
Vilanculos copped a pasting from cyclone Fabio earlier this year and the whole town is looking a bit the worse for wear. Palmeiros lodge is ship shape again, though its eponymous palms all look like they've had a lop-sided haircut.
The town - like most of Mozambique -is a mix of tumble-down thatched huts and gutted concrete hulks of old Portuguese colonial beach villas and hotels. An interesting place to hang out and research a novel, but you wouldn't want to spend much longer on the mainland than the four days we did.
Far nicer, Legion of Fans, are the islands that make up the Bazaruto Marine National Park, so we took a dhow trip out for the day to the nearest, Magaruque.
Now we were talking, LOF... azure waters, squeaky white sandy beaches, reefs teeming with those stripey fish we used to have in the fish tank when I was a kid, jovial crewmen working their rippling ebony muscles (with apoligies to Mr W Smith) hoisting the stiched and tattered sail, cold Dois M beers in the sun. You get the picture.
We snorkelled along the rocky reef, or rather caught passing glimpses of fish as the fierce current whisked us past the shore.
Ye olde dhow was pretty cool, too - especially the sand-filled wooden box in the middle, reinforced with rusting corrugated iron, in which the crew made a fire to brew tea and cook fish steaks for lunch!
The next day it rained - all day - which was, actually, quite nice, as Mrs B and I did nothing but sleep and read. It was, dare I say it, like being on holiday.
Over the four days we spent a fiar bit of time in an atmospherically-stark bar called Smugglers, which was full of rum characters and piratical old salts. Without giving away too much about book six, this was also a very handy spot for research. Expect to see the seafood platter, with a lobster the size of a small dugong, feature in the book.
Other than going out to one or more of the islands, there wasn't a lot to do in Vilanculos. Mrs B and I are pretty much over the whole backpacker thing, so I couldn't see much point in visiting the local market (African markets are all pretty much alike - tomatoes, sunlight soap and over-sized bras).
It was much nicer, in fact, to do nothing at all for a few days.