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Old 02-04-2010, 12:53 PM   #1
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Cool2 Northern Mozambique: Sea to Lake and Back Take II

The plan: Ditch the dust and heat of Dar es Salaam for some lost tracks in Northern Mozambique.

The guys and their bikes: Klavs (AKA Ajax, our leader: KTM 690), Ben (KTM 450), Bjorn (XR 400R), Gilles (KTM 525), Hunter (your narrator: XR 400R)

Destination and timing: We have one week to make it to Lake Malawi and back to Pemba without bigtime screwups... (see previous attempt at said trip... read Tapeworm's trip report: click here)

The route: Cross Rovuma River south of Mtwara, TZ, slide down the coast a ways, dive West into the woodlands on whatever tracks we can find, and sip beers and cool our bikes on the Lake shore. Then, return the same way, give or take, plus a detour to Pemba.

Our actual route. Each color represents one day's ride:




The leadup: Before anything can happen, we need to prepare. First thing's first, we make sure the bikes are good to go which includes new tires fitted with Michelin Bib-Mousses... quite a project, but beers make it an easier fit. Next, stick 2 KTMs (525 and 450) inside a beat up Toyota minivan "the Daladala", and strap 2 XR 400Rs and a KTM 690 on the trailer made from an old Pugeot carcass... then, delay departure by 3 hours in order to repair 2 Daladala flats, cross Dar in rush hour, and find a wheel spanner on the roadside. Off we go!


Below: Klavs & Bjorn fit a Mousse with love and tenderness... the Daladala loaded, and 3 Bajaj tuk-tuks somewhere on the road.



Damn it smells nice to be out of Dar es Salaam... green... like rain.

We arrived in Mtwara after dark and 10 hour drive later which was hellish thanks to the lack of AC and a 60 km stretch of construction which added 2 1/2 hours on to the drive thanks to the poorly maintained bypass road and the crap tiedowns I bought before the trip which kept popping loose. The others arrived in the morning by airplane.

While I waited for the show to get on the road, I snapped these pics of the scene near our guest house outside Mtwara:



THE RIDE BEGINS
DAY 1: The Rovuma River to Mocimboa da Praia

"Core Values for Tanzania Revenue Authority Personell... Value #3: Prompt delivery of services..."

So it says on the framed certificate in the TRA office at the border... We had lots of time to ponder the Core Values since the customs official was "in another village, but is coming now-now" and only showed up 3 hours after we called him.

Passtimes while waiting for the customs guy in the heat of the African sun:

1) Fix luggage: at least 2 of our Giant Loops had pulled loose in the 25 kms from Mtwara due to our poor mounting design... "pre-test luggage before the ride!"
2) Make snide comments about the off-center tile work on the Customs office ceiling while pondering the slow progress of a spider toward the "Suggestions box" mounted on the wall.
3) Come up with creative suggestions for said box beginning with: "Faksake, see item #3 on TRA Code..!"


Below: patiently waiting at Kilambo Border... the TRA code... a snoozy official... the suggestion box... and our lunch of chips mayayi in the shape of a rolling wheel (an optimistic moment).


Finally through the customs and immigration procedures, we race another few kilometers of dust track to the Rovuma River where the pontoon indicated on the map has been washed away for years, and crossing means lifting bikes onto boats and hoping for the best. At the river's edge, we reconnected with the dodgy boat operators Ben had been disagreeing agreeably with for the past hours... their first price: $300, or $60 per bike. After some hassle, we made it across for about $25.

Below: Klavs eases the 690 down the bank... my XR being loaded... me on the boat mid river... Gil ripping up the bank on the Mozambique side... the scene from the shore


Across the river, we each scrambled up the steep river bank, throwing a roost on the bikes and boats behind us before ripping through the bush to the Moz customs offices.

Klavs demonstrates:


Then it was 40 km of fast twisty dirt and sand to Palma through deep bush... everybody excited with the late sunlight and the anticipation of a great trip ahead.

Below: We only stopped to snap one pic of us at Palma, the nearest town south of the Moz Border:


Palma behind us, it was already deep evening and the sun was grinding its way through the heavy clouds. All of us were fresh and we tore down the fast dirt road towards Mocimboa da Praia, kicking up dust, goats and chickens along the way. At dusk, the rain came, the dark followed, and the goggles made our already weak headlights positively useless... we rode by braile down the track, startled again and again by an animal or a drunkard on the roadside, and blinded by the odd oncoming lorry. By the time we made it to Mocimboa, nerves were rattling, and we were happy for a beer, some food and a good night's sleep.

We were already off schedule... the journey had begun!

Below: The shipping container/bedroom complete with curiously carved elephant bone, bows and arrows... and the glassy sea at Mocimboa da Praia


END Day 1, more to follow...
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I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.

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Old 02-04-2010, 02:08 PM   #2
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Now here's a part of the world we rarely see on here! Thanks for the detailed report and pics, and welcome aboard.

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Old 02-04-2010, 02:42 PM   #3
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Old 02-05-2010, 03:47 AM   #4
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Day 2: Mocimboa to Montepuez

We packed the bikes and left Mocimboa da Praia after sorting out money at the petrol station and filling up on eggs, bread (good Mozambican bread), and tea at a local place by the road. The day was cool and we were ready to make up some lost time by belting it down the tar road to Mueda.

Nobody likes the tarmac, but the road to Mueda was interesting... every village had some sort of shrine, either to the "village day" or to Samora Machel, the revolutionary Socialist leader who led Mozambique to independence from Portugal in 1975. There's Machel with his hand raised in a salute, there he is holding a bazooka on his shoulder, and here's one with him behind glass like a saint on display... it was a curious morning run.

Below: The Mozambican crest... a roadside shrine (farmer)... me with the elephant bone... Klavs on the road... the local drinks... breakfast stop



After Mueda, the riding blew us away. It started out fast on dirt, punctuated frequently with those improvised log bridges where the logs run parallel with the road and haven't been flattened on top. I nearly saw my ass when one surprised me on a blind corner and my front tire chose a skinny log and slipped a bit into the gap. Momentum, a lot of gas, and an indecent monolog got me though it.

At some point, the bridges were less frequent and we started to screw on the throttle more and more... the KTMs were doing over 120kph, and I found myself tickling the 100kmh mark on my XR.

Klavs and Ben ride 2 abreast most of the time, crazy bastards:


We raced on doubletrack through some abandoned villages and deep forest, and began to encounter inselbergs everywhere which gave the ride a surreal, Jurassic feel somehow.

Here two of the group blast through a village flanked by inselbergs:


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And the villages out there are really out there... we passed through one that seemed to be an abandoned war memorial. The fuselage of a DC3 (correct me) in the plaza and a monument to locals who had died in battle seemed to be the place's only reason to exist. In another village where we stopped to check the GPSs, we had a conversation with a guy in a yellow hardhat that went just like this:

Guy: [interested] Where are you going?
Me: [matter of fact] We're going to Montepuez.
Guy: [excited] I am going to Montepuez!
Me: [surprised] You're going to Montepuez?
Guy: [confusedly] I don't know! I live here!

Below: the fuselage... log bridge... inselbergs and the road... guy in yellow hardhat... Ben observing... village... us on steel bridge... lady in red


At 3:00 we were in Montepuez. Nobody wanted to quit riding, but we were starved, so we settled in for some grilled chicken and hard earned beers. Everybody was abuzz from the ride, our wet clothes were laying in the sun, and the bartender couldn't keep up with the beer requests. The food was excellent, but it took 2 hours to prepare.

Afterwards, we hunted for a place to sleep and wound up circumnavigating the town to find something. It's a nice place with broad avenues, an old church, and an inselberg lording over it all. A few more beers and the worst "hamburger" I've ever eaten later, and we were all crashed out.

Below: Gilles uses his leaky bladder... portraits of Klavs & Hunter... checking the map... the old church... Ben's X shaped tan... the roadsign back


END of day 2... more tomorrow...
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I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.

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Old 02-05-2010, 06:21 AM   #5
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excellent RR

and well balanced photo presentation........
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:20 AM   #6
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Day 3: Montepuez to Lichinga

We awoke in Montepuez to cocks crowing and the sound of people sweeping their yards. The tea and egg we devoured for breakfast helped plug the hole in our stomachs from the gin and that nasty burger of the previous night.

The road out began wide enough, then became less wide, and before long it was a rutted doubletrack through the bush without a sign of life on either side. Elephant dung on the trail told us we were pretty well in the bush, but we didn't come across any charismatic megafauna on this trip... unless you count riding with Klavs.

At one point, the swamp offered up two options: 1) go for a swim with the bikes through hip-deep water, or 2) try your luck on a makeshift bamboo bridge. We went for option #2, and after 3 of us tentatively tippitoed the bikes across, nervous about the creaking and groaning of the bridge, Ben just gets on his bike and rides over like it was nothing.

The track was wet, and one section of black cotton soil made our lives interesting. I careened off the trail in slow-motion, got tangled in the bike and became pinned by spiky bamboo shoots to the spot where I landed. I thanked my chest protector for doing its job there. A minute later, Klavs takes a flop in a stretch of muck as well, so I was in good company.

Below: Gilles negotiates a bump... Bjorn walks the bamboo bridge... all the bikes in a queue... Klavs sees his ass... one of those hi-tech wood bridges


The riding was excellent all told, and we were ripping through the forest happy as clams. Spirits were high enough for Ben to decide that KTMs can float... another wide water crossing presented itself, and he just went for it. The bike took a drink, we pushed our rides across, we spent some time tipping Ben's bike upside down and kicking it over and drying out the airfilter before pull-starting it back to life. In the meantime, villagers making their way here and there stared at us like we were from space and waded through the water (in places much less deep than where we crossed, I noticed later). But after that, the road was twisty and fast and splendid right up to Marrupa.

Below: Mother with child ford the creek... some of the afternoon scenery... chivalry is not dead in Moz: man carries 2 bikes across for his lady friends... Ben and Klavs un-drown the 450



We posted up for lunch in Marrupa, a sleepy little town on a hill in the bush. Since food took damn near 3 hours to arrive (they literally brought the chickens over live when we ordered them), we had time to dry out our kit, have a few 2M's, and take a quick siesta at this odd little "safari" hotel. We were observed by dozens of children who turned into hundreds when we left to fuel up on the roadside from jerry cans.

Below: Drying out... self portrait in the "Sala Polivalente"... the church... fuel stop extravaganza... village outside town... Ben fast asleep, dreaming about singletrack




A missionary we met told us what our map could not: there's nowhere to sleep between here and Lichinga, and the aproximate distance is 325km on tar. We left well into the afternoon, so there was no chance of arriving before dark. Knowing this, we all just plodded ahead, eating our tires down and killing our asses on the long stretch of tar. On either side of the road as far as you could see there was nothing but bush... just forest, no villages, no smoke. Amazing.

About halfway we crossed the Lugenda river, and at this point it was getting on toward dusk. The sunset was beautiful, but as soon as the glow is out of the sky it became a frightful experience for those of us with Honda headlights. At twilight, drunks and goats can be seen on the roadside, but only just barely... at night, they're invisible. There was something beautiful about it, and as the rain settled in, it smelled heavenly, but it was a scary approach into Lichinga for me.

Below: Early on, Bjorn enjoys some tar... Ben en route... a rest at the Lugenda River... Klavs' eye view... a night-time pitstop


That night at the Posada Lichinga Hotel, smelling of petrol from Klavs and Gilles' leaky fuel bladders, we slept like the dead.

END Day 3... more tomorrow...
__________________
I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.

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Old 02-07-2010, 08:11 AM   #7
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Day 4: Lichinga to Lake Malawi

Up at 6:00, showered and fed, two of us set out to find a money changer in Lichinga. At an all-in-one shop (cheap Chinese motorcycles on the veranda and all manner of household goods inside) we started the negotiation for buying meticais. After an hour, a scenic tour around town to find the 'patron', and a horrible sugary juice I was obliged to drink as a thankyou, we finally reconnected with the others who had been attempting in vain to solve the perennial problem of leaky fuel bladders.

Finally on the move, we were rewarded by a rocky, fast track, some 55km long with a few hairy sections that snatched at my heart and scolded me for forgetting that the bike was loaded with luggage and whole lot of extra fuel. Many villages dotted the road, but only 1 truck passed the entire trip... the bed packed with standing people dressed in all manner of colorful wraps like a rolling boquet.

The stones flew and we tossed ourselves at the lake that awaited at road's end. Meponda Village greeted us with tree covered hills and the broad silver expanse of Lake Malawi.

Below: One of Meponda's fishing dugouts... Ben & Klavs approach at top speed... Bjorn takes a nap... women back from madrassa with arabic lessons in hand... the lake approach... lake-view photoshoot... Gilles' leaky bladder and Gilles takes a corner



After a tour of this tiny village in search of beachside digs, we finally stopped at a green and white guesthouse as a huge thunderstorm rumbled over the distant hills and swallows swooped silently after a blizzard of lake flies that had ploughed aimlessly onto shore moments earlier. The guesthouse could only offer beds, so we ransacked the meager market stalls and created a campside menu of sardine spagetti that was positively brilliant with a crate or two of warm beers.

We spent the day in and out of the lake, watching the village meander past. By nightfall, we had a bonfire going, and a guy came by selling fish. Old bargaining skills emerged, and a bewildering portfolio of contradictory options emerged for him to choose from that arrived in English, Swahili, and a mix of Spanish/Portugese:

Biker A) "Sell us 5 fish, we only want 5!"
Biker B) "No, no, we'll take them all, but we want a lower price!"
Biker C) "Lets just walk away, he'll be back with his best price..."

Following Biker C's sage advice, we feigned indignation and sauntered back to the fire and our warm beers. And the fisherman? Well, he went back home. Instead of freshly grilled lake fish, that night we dined on eggs, potatoes and a heapin' helpin' of humble pie.

Below: Men on the lake... sardine pasta... Klavs' 690 and his attempt to fashion a plug for the fuel bladder... evening shoreside scenes... the lakefly invasion... Lake Malawi


All through the night, lightning exploded silently on the borders of the sky and a thin rain tapped on the roofthatch like a cautious typist. The water from Lake Malawi left us and our clothes feeling clean for the first time, and ready to dive back into Mozambique.

END Day 4: More tomorrow....
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I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:12 PM   #8
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Thank you for taking the time for this excellent write up and pics.Really would love to ride areas like that I know I will only see through yours eyes.
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:56 PM   #9
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I'm really digging this so far. Love the picture collage thing you have going.
Looking forward to seeing more of this part of the world.
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Old 02-07-2010, 11:36 PM   #10
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Day 5: Meponda to Marrupa

Up at 6:00, I made straight for the Lake to clear my fuzzy head. On the shore, men were preparing their boats and a thin whiff of cooking smoke hung on the air... idyllic.

On the road early, we retraced our steps up the gravel and stone road to Lichinga, enjoying the low, early morning light and feeling good about the prospects for the day.

After a fuel and oil stop, we set out to find the dirt track that would replace 150km of tarmac with a large V-shaped detour south of the main road into the unknown. We knew we were on the right track when a guy on a little 125cc bike said: "That road? No, not that road! The good road is over there!"

The road wound down fast from Lichinga Plateau. Soon we were dodging ruts that turned to huge, stony washouts, and before we knew it, we were back deep in the bush. The road narrowed, entered a village, then evaporated, dead-ending on an unmaintained railroad bridge. Seeing no other way across the swift, muddy water below, we hopped the rails and clattered across on the sleepers. On the other side, the shadow of a dirt road appeared which had been abandoned long enough to permit grass, shrubs and knee-high termite mounds to reclaim their purchase.

Below: Left or right?... navigating the railroad bridge... a "KTM" at the Lichinga petrol station (owner excitedly repeating "es la misma marca!" while gesturing to Klavs' 690)


Across the bridge, the track resumed through more open forest and turned to a sandy, fast run to the village of Caturi (maybe...), a defunct Portugese-era railroad station town that boasted a quaint Catholic church complete with elegant tilework on the facade, a few small shops, and one very crazy-eyed police officer. Having volunteered that I speak "a bit" of Portugese, he gravely saluted, then clamping his hand over mine, he proceeded to quiz me as to our purpose before directing us -- dramatically, with gestures and much gusto, never once freeing my hand -- to the track to Santarem and Majuni.

Below: The Portugese church and tile work... a serious onlooker... Gilles crosses a log bridge... Klavs unsticks his brakes... pottery outside a village mosque


From Catur to Santarem was craziness and excellent riding. Many log bridges kept things interesting, and at one point we encountered the recent collapse of a major bridge which forced us to negotiate a steep approach and escape to an unsteady log footpath over a narrow but profound stream. From there, the road was fast and furious to the tarmac. After a pitstop at the OBB (Organacao Black Brothers) roadside bar, we hit the tar for Marrupa, stopping only to stretch our legs and admire the scenery.

Below: Bridge washout... OBB... Attention Elephants... chasing the pot of gold near Marrupa... OBB bartender... roadsign home and away... at the junction, abandoned 'bao' game and broom


The big washout:




On arriving in Marrupa, back to the familiar "Safari" hotel, Gilles confirmed the wobble of worn wheel bearings and spent an hour replacing them while the rest of us cleaned up, had a beer and topped-up the fuel tanks as the city's entire school population looked on from outside the fence.


Below: Gilles the mechanic... studying the map... the appropirate tool for the job... the Safari Marrupa at night... fuel stop


The audience:




END Day 5... More tomorrow...
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I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.

Osadabwa screwed with this post 02-08-2010 at 04:12 AM
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:40 AM   #11
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Day 6: Marrupa to Pemba on the Sea

The alarm rang at 6:00, we packed the bikes in a forboding mist and poked another egg sandwich and tea down our necks to start the day. Since we cleverly fueled the bikes yesterday, we were on the way in no time, retracing our steps down the track to Montepuez. The hills wore a cloak of mist and the twisty, tree lined track was damp and technical. There wasn't a soul to be seen all the way to Balama, half way to Montepuez. The river that claimed Ben's bike on the way West was mysteriously low this time round, and we forded it easily with engines running.

After Balama, the rain had soaked the ground and the red and black soils were variously slick and horribly slick. Gilles saw his ass on one muddy stretch, and dropped a wheel through one of the bridges as well. The rest of us were within a hair's breadth of following suit, but managed to keep the rubber side down through the muck. After awhile, the soils became sandier and the speeds increased, rocketing us the rest of the way to Montepuez.

Below: Klavs and his dirty bike... a bystander watches us ford a stream... Gilles and the bridge... Gilles and the slick road... Ben and Klavs take on the creek... tracks in the mud... Hunter exits the pool


In Montepuez, with motorbike clothing scattered all around the bar to dry, we devoured lunch, washed it down with 2M, fuelled the bikes and hit the tar. We attempted to take another detour from the main road but didn't manage to make much of it. Keen to get somewhere before night, we just plodded on. The tar road was painful as always, but the villages had something beautiful about them after the rain and seemed orderly and vibrant somehow... maybe it was just a trick of the light.

Below: Artist's rendition of Mozambique's leading refreshment... burning up the tar... petrol stop portrait... our lunch spot... elementary Mozambican geography


In Pemba at last, evening coming down, we check into rooms on Wimbi Beach, find a breezy place to have a G&T, and rest our weary backs.

END Day 6... More tomorrow...
__________________
I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:39 PM   #12
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This is awesome. love what you did with the photos!
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:53 PM   #13
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Day 7: Palma up to Mocimboa da Praia

We didn't wake early in Pemba. The first order of business: breakfast at the beachside Pemba Dolphin restaurant. Then, a run around Pemba town just to see what was what. Answer: not much. The port is tiny, the avenues lined with crumbling semi-palacial homes with arches and pillars in ruin, the main street in disrepair with sand in the potholes and weeds and trees growing out of some of the abandoned buildings. Although the old Market had a stately air about it, and boasted "Mercado 1940", a quick peek inside showed very little activity.

In order to save time on lunch, we popped into a cafe for a few cokes and made an order for 10 "prego no pao" sandwiches to go, then we hit the road.

20km of tar, then a right turn onto a dirt road that produced mixed reactions among us bikers. We were glad to be off the tarmac, but the fast dirt with annoying corregations, villagers and heavy, speeding trucks was less than ideal. After awhile though, the track got worse, which made it more interesting riding... Also keeping it interesting was the scenery. The villages were picturesque, and the girls on the roadside had a curious habit of being topless. At one point, on a straight stretch of road, I saw a tiny old man with an enormous straw hat plodding toward me... bow and arrows in hand. Wha?

After a bit of riding, Klavs stopped under a skinny baobab tree in full bloom to catch up. As I approached, I saw a bicycle in the middle of the road and the others laughing up a storm. Apparently, a boy was on the bike but dropped it mid-pedal as Klavs came to a stop, logically fearing that the approaching orange onslaught of noise and dust could only spell disaster, he hightailed it back to the village without so much as looking back.

Below: Our prego no pao stop... Wimbe beach... Bjorn drops his bike... a Pemba apartment block... our Pemba digs... the spooked kid's wheels


Back on the tar, we stopped at Bar Chung in Macomia to have our takeaway lunch. As luck would have it, school was out, and in no time hundreds of kids were crowding around and commenting on the five wazungu in their fancy dress. When it was time to go, Klavs gave them a bit of a surprise...





The rest of the trip to Mocimboa was hell... broken tarmac all the way punishing our backs and our bikes. I was glad for the nth time that I'd listened to advice and put in mousses. We had one semi-casualty at a sharp concrete bridge lip... while Klavs and Ben were riding two abreast, Ben put a nice ding in both of his rims (blames Klavs... Klavs denies wrong doing... obscenities fly from both sides... life goes on).

Although the tar road was dull, one village at dusk made it interesting... there was a lot of ruckus ahead, so I slowed down. Hundreds of people were dancing and shouting ahead, so I was wary. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see a dancing man, dressed head to toe in a grass costume, wearing one of those grimacing wooden masks and shaking sticks at me with both hands. I chose to take it as a benediction rather than a hex, revved my engine, waved and rode on.

END Day 7... Last day tomorrow...
__________________
I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.

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Old 02-09-2010, 02:35 AM   #14
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Day 8: Back to Tanzania

We retraced our steps from Mocimboa da Praia to Palma along the fast dirt road. Nobody was too thrilled by the terrain, but a few odd roadside attractions kept it entertaining, including the headless carcass of a puff adder right square in the center of a village... wouldn't want to be walking in flipflops and meet one of those guys.

We explored the town of Palma a bit in an effort to find decent accomodation for subsequent trips to Mozambique. A funky old church hinted at a grander vision for Palma, but it's just a little backwater town today. We dropped down the hill to the sandy part of town by the sea where palm trees and rice paddies grow up around the mosque and fisherman in dhows and more modern boats come in and out of harbor with their catch. It's a typical lazy seaside village... simple, beautiful and worth a peek.

Below: Mocimboa da Praia's own Samora statue... Palma by the sea... the church... the puff adder... Gilles taking a rest... a boat at rest at low tide


Not wanting to risk arriving late to the border, and still eager to play in the sand a bit, we left Palma on the northern track. The road was fun as before, but not technical compared to other tracks until Klavs suggested going out to Cabo Delgado lighthouse. A tiny doubletrack path denoted by a faded black and white sign led us east through the bush and deep, churned up sand. Arms pumped and sweating from the sandy battle, we were later greeted by a twisting maze of a trail that led through dense bush over coral outcrops to the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was stunning. Ghostly powder white like most colonial buildings, it's a hexagonal giant jutting out of the coral surrounded by three or four old outbuildings and a small caretaker's village. It seemed completely lost in time, but was functioning with a modern solar powered strobe.

We blasted back inland and headed north again on another tiny trail that lead through more sandy track to an picturesque but abandoned beachside palm plantation set on the most stunning, pristine turquoise beach in East Africa (says me). We zipped up the beach a bit, and followed faint footpaths through the palms before hitting a dead end at a mangrove swamp.

Rather than ford deep salty water with the bikes, we cut back inland and found another path. The white clay and salt-covered tree cemetary was a paradise for messing around. Gilles and I spun cookies, tossing muck at each other, and sprinted up and down the pan, dodging the mangrove shoots and stumps, leaning out as far as we dared on the grippy clay soil...

After the mangroves it was deep rutted sand again through open areas and villages down into a riverbed planted with rice where people sat in makeshift shelters tossing stones at the thieving monkeys emerging from the bush. The track looped back to Quionga, an old administrative hub with an impressive old house on the plaza, before turning north again on a fast twisty track that led to the border post.

Below: On the abandoned beach... the palm plantation... Quionga admin house... monkey thieves... the lighthouse... a monkeybiker... me and my entourage... the palms again


It's always much easier at the border when you're going home. We breezed through customs and immigration to the river's edge, had the bikes on boats in a flash, crossed without hassle and were back in Tanzania before we knew it.

Below: All of us on the boats... getting up the bank... cleaned up and respectable, the beer at trip's end in Mtwara


The trip was a winner. We had a loose plan, easy going people, and a section of the most beautiful and remote part of Mozambique. Add some rain, a few funky bridges, a dip in Lake Malawi, and it was a 5 star ride.

Cheers

END of RR
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I used to have a link to my African rides in my signature line, but every time I check it doesn't work. So, if you want to see Kilimanjaro, the Kilombero Valley, a bunch of short trips around Dar and another long one to Mozambique: go to my profile.

Osadabwa screwed with this post 02-09-2010 at 10:23 PM
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Old 02-09-2010, 03:53 AM   #15
Thorne
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Great RR............
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