I was all excited because I was to take a few days off of work and go on a bush trip this week. The plan was for me, Andreas and Uli to make four day driving/camping trip into the very rural Mozambican back country all the way through a national park and to the border with South Africa and Zimbabwe. I felt like I was getting to partake in a rugged boys expedition. My friend Elizabeth said my plans sounded like a scene from The English Patient; visions of story telling and quoting Herodotus around a campfire.
However, the trip didn’t really work out quite as planned. The first attempt to go was canceled several weeks ago because Uli’s mother passed away back in Germany. So understandably the trip was postponed. Upon his return, the excursion was rescheduled and we reorganized our provisions and loaded up the car.
3 1/2 hours outside of Vilankulo, literally as we were passing into no cell-reception zone, Andreas received a text that his son Caspar had a fever. We stopped for an hour, waiting to hear the results from the Malaria test. It turned out to be negative, but we still decided that we should go back just in case.
We did made one stop before we headed home at a beautiful spot called Banamana. Drive 35 km northwest of Mabote along a single lane dirt road with tall bushes on either side, then all of the sudden the bush just stops and you’re looking out on an expansive grassland and small marshy pond.
The sky was huge and the clouds were massive and menacing. The grass was this electric shade of green, and the rarely traversed dirt road bright rusty orange. All that was missing were the herds of zebra and a few elephants. It was truly beautiful.
Once we got home Caspar’s fever had already subsided and he was feeling fine. A bit frustrating, but I can imagine that it could have been quite stressful for Helga if Caspar had been really sick and we were all out of contact for 4 days. Anyway, the next day the car was still packed and I had already requested Monday off of work, so Uli and I went out to see some property he’s trying to buy.
The ride was lovely and the site is gorgeous. It’s a hill top that looks over a flood plain and the Save River. You can see miles up the sandy banks and even a small pod of hippos. We could watch as the clouds and sheets of rain made their way down the valley to the hillside. There’s no development way out there and only a handful of people. Just a few mud huts in the valley with little paths treaded through small corn plots, bush and grass.
For entertainment we experienced a series of automotive breakdowns. First, the car got stuck in a mud hole – with the help of a random man who rode past us on a bike and returned soon thereafter with a shovel, it took about an hour to get free from the sludge. Then back at the camp site, I noticed a quiet hissing noise coming from the car; flat tire. The next day when we decided to do some exploratory back road driving – Uli accidently drove over a cement corner stone that was hiding in the grass. We drug the block along with us a few yards, then had to dig it out from under the car. This of course, had pushed one part or another of the undercarriage together. SO, after finally resolving that last issue, we decided that it was time to head back without tempting the African car gods anymore.
So, I didn’t get to go on our four day bush excursion, but I did get to camp one night and learned a lot about how to jack up a car and position planks behind muddy tires.
That was how I spent my Saturday, Sunday and Monday. No Herodotus or campfire jokes, but pleasant conversation. The most interesting revelation of this whole trip however, was that Uli told me that he thought I was 32 until rather recently. Which I guess could be taken as a compliment to my maturity, but really it makes me think that I need to boost my SPF regimen from 70 to 100.