Maputo to Tofo
We’re driving up from Maputo to Tofo, some 550 Km away, with the engine growling and the wind whistling through the open windows. There is a big crack across the windscreen (a totally normal occurrence here) and a dolphin key ring swinging off the rear view mirror. Our driver Marc is an expat who left Essex for Tofo seven years ago. I asked him if he goes back often – he says that he’s been back twice, and not for very long.
I take that as a good omen. Last week, I said goodbye to my career in Finance, got on a plane and flew across the continent to volunteer for the Marine Megafauna Foundation, in Tofo on the coast of Mozambique. I’ve always loved the sea and it seemed like the perfect beginning to a new chapter.
Roadtrippin’ through Mozambique
The countryside is lush and flat, punctuated by small settlements. Small, concrete shops bear the colour schemes and logos of the main telecoms companies – red from Vodacom and orange for Movitel. People walk unhurried to their destinations on the roadside. Women carry big baskets filled with fruits, their swaying hips wrapped in traditional textiles. Children dressed in school uniforms cross the road that cuts through the rolling green landscape. The roads are full of life, so we have to maneuver carefully as we make our way.
The motorway unfolds ahead – swelling and dipping. I wonder how the next three months will be. Will I miss London? Will I settle in well? I am worried that I may have trouble adapting. Will I get Malaria? Marc’s says he had it four times.
Suddenly, we get pulled over by the police. A doctor in scrubs and mask comes over and informs us that there is an outbreak of cholera in Maputo and may we please step out of the vehicle. He explains that we need to wash our hands and feet to avoid bringing the disease into Inhambane. He escorts us to a tank of chlorine water where we can rid ourselves of our sins. After conducting a successful disinfection, he congratulates us and happily sends us on our way.
Life in Tofo Beach
Fast-forward 5 days. I am lying under a palm tree looking out onto the ocean and the white sand that is always, everywhere – in the bed, on the bread, and randomly crunching in your mouth. Yesterday, the Marine Megafauna team went on an ocean safari just of the coast of Tofo Beach and we swam next to two whale shark and three manta rays. My tan and Portuguese are slowly coming along… Things could definitely be worse!
It might be hard to believe, but it’s not all paradise living. In my next post, I’ll share some stories of the challenges of living in these ends!