Travel Journal

Mozambique, Chimoio

(Monday 31 January 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 169 1/22/11
We had not arranged a visa for Mozambique, partly because we had no time and also we heard that you can get a visa on arrival. The officers seemed surprised that we had no visa but after a half hour wait for them to figure out how to do it, we paid only $22 for the both of us and we were in. A short walk got us to the chapas -- their minivans -- and we got on after exchanging a small amount of money to the local currency.
It was about an hour drive to Chimoio and we hopped off not having a clue where we were as the guide book has no map for the town and only one hostel listed. I wanted to withdraw some money from the ATM but the lines were amazingly long. I’m not sure why there were so many people using the ATM on a Saturday but I was about the fifteenth person in line at a Barclay’s machine. When I finally got to the teller, I found that Barclays only lets you take about $120 out at a time and with the $5 service charge from my bank, that’s not a good commission percentage. Barclays is on my avoidance list. Julie got a more reasonable sum at another bank.
Asking around, we made our way to the Pink Papaya (the hostel from the guide book) and checked in. Nice people and nice double room with a shared bath. We were there alone except for a German couple that checked in later. Five bucks got our laundry done which is a good price for a machine wash and we went to arrange travel the next day. A local at the train station took us to the bus and helped negotiate a fare for a tip. A bus was leaving the next day to Maxixe and we were told to be there at 3 PM to catch it and we would arrive at 11. It seemed like an odd time to leave and arrive so I confirmed the time and we paid for our tickets.
There’s nothing much to do in the town and the internet shops were closed for the day. Since the hostel had a kitchen, we decided to make spaghetti and headed off to the store. It was quite a bit away and Julie got a bit frustrated with the walk so we headed back to relax instead at the hostel. The thought of spaghetti though made me head out again on my own. I was stopped by the police who wanted to check my passport which I later learned is not uncommon. They asked me why I had a daypack and I suppressed a wiseass remark and told them I was shopping and would carry the groceries back in it which seemed to satisfy them. I got all the ingredients save tomatoes – how important is that for spaghetti? – as they were very poor and thought I could buy from a local stand on the way back. There were indeed an abundance of fruits on the street stalls but no tomatoes. The hostel did tell me where to get them when I got back.
Julie did her magic in the kitchen and I think I ate more than I had than any other meal in Africa. We have lost so much weight on this trip that it felt good to add some back on. We talked with the other couple who gave us some good tips on travel through Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. I didn’t take notes as they gave me their website. Checking it a couple days later, I found it to be all in German which surpassed my language skills and patience for babelfishing the meaning.
As we were preparing for bed, the owner asked if we were going to sleep or staying awake to catch our bus. What? She explained there’s only one bus for Maxixe and it leaves at three in the morning. We thanked her because otherwise we’d be out the price of the bus and have to spend another day in town. We got a few hours of sleep and then the night watchman escorted us to our bus as this place can get nasty in the dark around the bus stop.


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