Day 209 Mozambique : Liwonde - Tete

Day 209 Mozambique

Trip Distance 391 km (293 m) Total Distance 23095 km (14354 m)
Road Condition 100% tar    
Time to travel 7.5 hrs    
Cost of diesel M27.25 (£0.60)    
Stopover
Tete
Pedrio Univendas S16 09.561 E33 35.236 M850 (US$34) - Expensive but cheaper than other hotels.  Incl. secure parking but shared bathroom & loos. Everything clean but old.

What started out initially as a fairly easy day's drive to Blantyre turned into a marathon session to Tete in Mozambique. 

We woke up that morning having had a fabulous time at Liwonde National Park but realising that time was passing us by and if we wanted to visit Mozambique and do some diving and snorkeling before hitting Durban and then Matatiele for Christmas, we needed to get going. So we headed off in the direction of Blantyre.  First stop: Shoprite and Game.  We arrived there at just after 1pm to find that, it being Sunday, the stores had al just closed at 1pm for the day. Drat!  As we also needed Mozambican Metacals we needed a Bureau de Change but, again, it being Sunday, nada.  No diesel, no provisioning and no money.  Ah, well, we'd find a decent place to bed down for the night, shop tomorrow morning (Monday) and head off for Mozambique.

We had checked the Bradt Guide and Lonely Planet and Doogles came up trumps as a good place to stay.  Not in our humble opinion!  Doogles is situated right next to the taxi and bus rank in Blantyre - not conducive for a restful night's sleep - strike 1, we arrived to find the gate wide open and the guard asleep next to it - strike 2 for security, and the campsite is the size of a pea, dusty and dirty - strike 3.  We saw Ben and Kate's tent erected but no Helga, so set off for the next campsite to check it out. 

As luck would have it on our way out, we bumped into them coming back from the fuel station.  We kissed and hugged hello (déjà vu - hadn't we done this somewhere before???) and swapped information: some diesel had just been delivered and by pushing in we could get served immediately if we wanted to, all stores were closed on a Sunday and there was no Mozambican Mets available.  Great.  And Doogles was a shit-hole so we wanted to check out the other campsite - Paradise - that we had heard about.  But more importantly we wanted to know how Kate was.  They had been keeping in contact with us (us in Liwonde, they on Zomba Plateau) and had told us that Kate had developed a dose of gastro but had been looked after by a former Malawian cabinet minister (!!!).  This all whilst Ben was off hunting down some spares for Helga in Blantyre.  Anyway, it all turned out well, Helga was in tip-top shape and Kate her usual bubbly self, somewhat lighter, at this stage ravenously hungry and ready to tackle a square meal.  Thank goodness, we were a little worried for a while.  So with minds at rest and everyone happy, we kissed an hugged goodbye and set off for Paradise Camping.  When we got there, we turned around outside and drove away - worse and worse!  So the next best thing to do - head for Mozambique.  A quick discussion later and we decided that we should just make it into Tete by nightfall if there were no holdups at the border crossing, so we set off.  A quick sms to Ben and Kate to let them know that Paradise wasn't and that instead of heading back to Doogles, we were setting off for Mozambique and into the first town beyond the border, Tete.

We arrived at the border crossing just before 4pm and managed to get through both sides in less than an hour.  This included changing money with a blackmarket tout on the Malawian side and applying for Mozambqiue visas on the other.  By 5pm we with our carnet checked and a snappy salute from the border guard, we were off again with just another 123km to go to Tete. 

The roads were relatively good with few potholes and as the sun set we arrived at the bridge across the Zambezi to cross into town.  We had originally thought of staying at Jesus e Bom campsite but on arriving in Tete, we discovered that it was stinking hot and this called for a bed and some airconditioning after the long haul we had had that day.  We had heard some stories about the crossing of the bridge taking up to 3 hours (they are doing roadworks on it) but 20 minutes after joining the queue, we were waved through by a smiling policeman and entered into town. 

First stop was the Motel Tete, also recommended as the place to stay there - we really have to stop trusting these bloody books.  The motel was a dive and for no electricity and water that night, wanted to charge us M2000 (US$80) for the room.  Yeah, riiiiiggghhht.  A quick about turn and we headed off deeper into town to look for the Pedrio Univendas - apartments that you can rent for 1 night.  We had a look at them.  For M1000 (US$40) we had a clean room, electricity, airconditioning and although the bathroom and loos were shared, they were clean and tidy.  To top it all, Pedrio has it's own secure parking just 1 door up so Sully could have a good sleep too.  Deal done.

Our observations of Tete and Mozamabique at this stage: 

*  everyone to a man was smiling and friendly and we were being treated courteously and kindly

* street lights, street signs and road signs abound and you know where you're going to (unlike the rest of East Africa)

* restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bakeries and pastry stores are dotted everywhere serving good food, great coffee and pastries to die for!

* filling stations have convenience stores attached (and they have provisions on the shelves and cold sodas in the working fridges), in fact, there is diesel on sale at the garages

* we never felt threatened walking the streets at night - there were families, ladies on their own and teenagers walking around

* There are plenty of banks and ATMs (with electricity, so that they work) that take VISA cards and give you money

We are hoping that our view of Mozambique won't change.  We have heard so many horror stories of thefts, muggings and wide-spread lawlessness among the Mozambicans that we were apprehensive about this visit - so far none of this has materialised and we genuinely hope that it doesn't.  We'll wait and see when we get to the bigger tourist towns like Vilanculos and Inhambane.

So we had 1 really important thing to do: get some food.  We got settled in the apartment and set off for a quick walk heading for Pino's Club, an Italian restaurant we had spotted on the way in.  2 Bifa Portuguese later (steak smothered in garlic and chillies topped with a softly fried egg and chips) and a couple of ice cold cokes later and we were ready for bed.  But not before we stopped in at the local coffee shop for some freshly brewed decaf espresso with hot milk and a cake for Trevor. 

#1 gary on 11.14.2009 at 12:10 AM

Sounds like you had a hell of a time trying to find a good site, especially when you just wan to sleep...it reminds me of Greece, going back to the hotel with the fire outside.

Glad you got some good quarters.

Keep on trekking.

Love

Gary and Teresa