Wednesday, 18 July 2007


After leaving Blantyre I camped at the golf course at the foot of Mt Mulanje for 2 nights, where I had an interesting game of golf with 3 guys from Johannesburg - picture - who'd been up the mountain (sand greens and ancient rented clubs). There I met Jim Melrose, MD of Lugeri Tea Estate, who invited me over for a night (thanks to him and Vicky- in photo - for the royal treatment, I even had a guided tour of the estate and factories). The taste of the full English breakfast was still fresh in my memory when I crossed into Moçambique. Untill then I'd been travelling through former British colonies where most people could speak a manner of English. Suddenly nobody could understand a word I said. I only knew 2 words of Portuguese, and one of them I'd rather not mention. I headed down the dusty road to Mocuba, 200 km away. Within minutes it was raining, and by the pm I was sliding around in the mud trying to keep Saartjie (my bike) on her feet. Old Saartjie herself was sounding like a worn out windmill, due to the mud and gravel on the chain and coggs. As darkness fell I arrived at a small village where I was granted permission to pitch my tent (the rain didn't deter the spectator crowd). Headman Jaõ Cordosa brought me a bucket of hot water to wash (perhaps they wanted to see what I looked like under the layers of mud). I was further provided with a warm supper of chicken and nzima, and given rice porridge for breakfast (the villagers also helped me clean the bike). After the rain a "good path" is formed by the many cyclists, zig-zagging across the road. On this narrow path I was nearly involved in a head-on collision with 2 men on a bike, but the driver did the honorable thing by taking to the bush in spectacular fashion. I did stop to ask if they were OK, but I'm sure that in a country with a recent history of more snakes than ladders this was not their worst experience. The towns here in Moçambique are larger than I'd expected, with Portuquese influence evident in the mostly dilapidated architecture (although the cathedral outside Murrupula seems well preserved - picture). Nampula, where I'm staying over, is the 3rd largest in the country - and capital of the North. My hotel is the worst to date, but what did I expect for R30 per night (I pitched my tent in the room). In this inland region there are very few whites, and the rural people seem rather scared of me. Yesterday a bee got into my helmet and stung me on the forehead. I hurriedly stopped to remove the culprit, about 100 m from a group of women in the road ahead. Later I looked up just in time to see the last of these women escaping into a nearby cassava field. Distances since Blantyre have been:- Mulanje 70 k; Lugeri 30 k; Tamboni 89 k; Mocuba 122 k; Muserawa 85 k; Moloque 113 k; Calima 96 k; and Nampula 130 k.

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