Monday, June 3, 2013

MOZA PT. 2: Paradise...

Mozambique Vacation Pt. 2

(Catch up on the first half of the trip here…)

April 24: After our brief layover in the pleasant little road-side bar, Sarah and I hopped in trucks where room was available for the last 40 kilometer stretch. Allow me to prelude this part of the story with this fact: Nobody had been on this road before. 

We all knew that it was going to be rough, and sandy, and long. But I don’t think any of us knew exactly HOW long it would take us to reach the final destination. The whole caravan included: Steve and Cuan’s bikes, 5 trucks, and two boats. And one of these boats was quite large, like huge, for the trek we were about to attempt. Everything went smoothly for the first few kilometers. Then once the trees started to close in on us we ran into a bit of trouble. And by a bit, I mean 7 hours… 

We thought the bikes were going to be the ones struggling in the sand, as that was the case during last year’s trip… But we didn’t take into account the size of this boat. Poor Cuan and Steve had to be extremely patient with us and eventually became our trackers, riding well ahead of us to find the best route possible.This boat has a tall roll bar which made it extremely difficult to maneuver around the low-lying branches that enveloped the road for about 35 of the 40ks to the resort. 

A few examples of the terrain we went through to get to the beach
Despite all the struggles chopping down limbs, creating new paths, and winching the Land Cruiser VX with boat in tow up considerably steep, sandy hills, everyone kept a great attitude. We all worked together to get the vehicles, boats, and passengers there safely and eventually made it to Paradise Beach Lodge! 

That evening everybody split to their designated bungalows and pretty much crashed. Our open air little chalets were just perfect for the beach. A nice kitchen area, two bedrooms, a dining/central congregating area, and a big front porch. Each one is meant for four people, but our group was short two so Cuan and I got a full place to ourselves. Lucky for us? - Lucky for Steve and Cu...
We were sharing meals with the house next door so it wasn't necessary to keep any of the food or anything for that matter in our house. So we got to be the storage unit.. full of bikes where we were supposed to be hanging out, and fishing tackles where we were supposed to be eating... My bedroom was off-limits so I got a little space to myself.. 

The next few days were spent sunning, surfing, swimming. And fishing. You fishermen out there know there is a difference in “fishing” and “catching” right? 

Just about a kilometer off shore is a continental shelf. So getting out to the right location for deep sea fishing did not take any time at all. Other factors like weather made it more difficult to “bring home the bacon” as they say, or tuna in this case...
Our lodge is located on a large lagoon sheltered from the main sea. A small opening lies at one end of the estuary where the boats must venture through to get out to deep sea. And there were days that the swells were way too big to even get out to the ocean (almost flipping one boat..). After a few days waiting the weather out, the fishermen were able to embark and catch some nice fish.
Meanwhile, us ladies were enjoying the immaculate, white beaches we had entirely to ourselves. Because our resort was on a lagoon, we had to take short ride in the trucks over to the beach. But vehicles are allowed along the shore, and it was a nice way to carry all of our lounging items (gazebo, chairs, lunch, ice chests, etc). Plus it was a fun way to learn how to drive in the sand! So each day after a nice breakfast, including some fresh coconut and pineapple, we headed to a perfect spot on the coastline. And boy, did we have options. There is not another resort anywhere close by, and although there were a few other guests staying at ours, it felt like our own private beach, at least 6 miles of it. So we would pick a different spot every day, where our only worry was making sure the trucks weren’t sacrificed to the mighty Indian Ocean with the rising tides. 
The boys joined us on days that weren’t ideal for fishing, and we all let loose playing games of beach bocce ball and building sand castles. Cuan couldn't resist bringing the bike to the ocean, so one day he followed us and we went for a nice long ride miles down the beach, with the tires kissing the water the entire time. It was such a peaceful, beautiful drive.
On days we managed to make it back to the resort with enough light, we took the boat out into the lagoon with all the snorkeling gear, and were able to view some miraculous marine life. Although it took me a few minutes to get the hang of that snorkel thing, I saw the most insane array of colors on all types of species in that lagoon. 

Buying fresh coconuts, a view of the lodge, and our ride to the beach!

Breakfast on the Beach!

         I also made one trip out on the “rubber duck” (Steve’s boat) to have my first go at deep-sea fishing. We left with the sparrows as the sun rose out of the deep blue on a perfectly calm morning, and made it out to the sea with no problems. I had never been on the ocean on such a small boat, and I must say it was quite a different experience… The towering swells are terrifying when they are heading towards you it feels as if they going to swallow you whole!  But the small boat just gently rolled over the swells with ease as if it was a very part of that vast body of water. The ocean moves in such a slow, constant motion its almost as if the whole thing is breathing. And we were right there on its belly. Looking out to sea away from the shoreline really makes you thing about how massive the oceans are, and how powerful they can be...
 I was worried about getting sea-sick, and felt a little woozy at times, but I managed to hold onto my breakfast...The fishing was a little slow going, we moved from reef to reef, following the birds in hopes to catch the big one. But we ended up giving more back to the ocean than the mighty beast allowed us to take that day. (lost about 4 lures in all). Those stinkin' fish were just teasing us! At one point I had a massive fish on the line. Honest! He just kept taking and taking that line further and further away, and every chance that I got I was reeling like a champ. But eventually, after almost 10 minutes of pulling and struggling, he was able to straighten out the hook and get free. I was told that would have been the biggest of the day! We were all able to catch SOMETHING that day however. These beautiful orange fish with purple polka-dots I still don’t even know the name of. We let them all go not knowing they could be eaten, but still enjoyed catching them nonetheless.  

            On one particularly good fishing day, we were able to make our own homemade sushi out of tuna FRESH from the ocean! It was one of those things that I always said I would love to do, and we had such an amazing time doing it. 

     Cuan and I were able to spend 5 full days on the beach before packing up and heading back out on the bike for the airport! My flight back to America left out of Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 1st of May, so we need to leave a few days early to make sure we made it in time! The rest of the gang spent another 5 days soaking up the sun while I made my looooong trip back to the States for my sister’s wedding festivities!
Overall, regardless of its issues (which all adventures must have), it was one of the best vacations I have ever been on. I made loads of new friends, shared a millions laughs, and got to experience a part of the world I could have only dreamed of. Thank you to everyone who made it possible! (especially Mrs. Anne Clark, her mom "Nanna" and the Bristow and Reed families!)

           Up next... my trip home!  

MOZA PT 1 and 1/2...

I was able to grab a few photos from Sarah's camera when I was last with her, and there were a few that I couldn't keep off the blog! Just a few more snaps of the bike-part of the Mozambique trip: goofing off, hanging with the locals, and enjoying the ride!...

Top left: that little yellow piece of paper we waited hours for! (yellow fever slip) The rest: Just enjoying!

    Read about the second half of the trip here! Or catch up on the first half here..