Solo Expedition Across Mozambique – Southern Africa

“Everyday when I shut my eyes I find myself in a desert, I feel heat, sweat and dust, in the savanna, wildlife, primates, pachyderms, felines, canines, reptiles, I find myself traveling under heavy rain, dripping, warm and tropical, I see places, huts, goats, cows, chickens, people on the road, children, street vendors, vans, cars, bikes, hellish traffic and after seeing all this, I open my eyes and I’m tired of this dream. There is only one way …You have to make it happen!”

João Luís Sousa

Episode Mocuba (Broken Bridges):
Date: 20-01-2015

Just like other expeditions, traveling solo across Mozambique, was made in honor of my grandfather Augusto Macedo Pinto that he too was a biker in Mozambique at 1950´s. I want to begin this story by saying that Mozambique is a fascinating country full of good people and great adventure. I started the trip with everything mounted on the bike and full of will. The weather was good, the sun smilling, heat and all was going great. From Inhambane starts to rain, with some openings, but after a while it seemed that collapsed a cloud and rained like no tomorrow. Suddenly everything dry and hot with plenty heat coming out of me, the tarmac and the bike. A few more kilometers another cloud collapsed and then heat enough to put an ox to sleep. The temperature range was a terrible physical violence. When I was getting across the day, Inhassoro, the bike chain broke free on a mixed road, bituminous and dirt. In the middle of nowhere appear two kids that helped me to place the chain in the rack. One of the kids asks me “Mr. comes from where? And I say “Maputo” he asks again “and goes where?” And I said “Going through Mozambique up north and back to Maputo” and the kid replies, “What bold, Mr. is a man!” This phrase in that location and circumstance marked me a lot during the whole trip. When I arrived in Inhassoro, I came across a beautiful beach location, and fantastic islands a half hour away by boat. The trip continued fine all the way up.

Mid-January we were in the rainy season in Mozambique at which point there are many floods. On the return trip to Maputo already going down across Mozambique had just arrived in Mocuba in the morning of 12/01/2015 under heavy rain, waterproof no longer worked either from the inside or from the outside, it was more an ornament in a soaked body. I begin to see an exodus of people, hundreds by the road, bus, shuttle vans of people, cars, and more people. When I come to the bridge I find myself with a rough and muddy sea of apocalyptic proportions at a rate that could drag the Moby Dick. The bridge was falling right in from of our eyes. Five minutes from my stop at the beginning of bridge was enough to arouse the attention of the curious, boys, young people and others who simply swallowed me in a crowd. When I turn on the bike and start making a U-turn some people were frightened by the sounds of the bike and fled leaving a clearing for me to pass. Wanting to get out of this mess I returned back for shelter, knowing that there was a gas station two kilometers away from the bridge. Sheltered me from the heavy rain asking employees to let me put the bike on the side in a covered area in an annex. This petrol station was not quite normal, and in particular had no energy, so there is no way to pull petrol or diesel, the emergency generator did not work, there was no supply, there is no light, no working toilets, no water only existed rainwater that was bountifully. I begin to encounter with other people also in the same situation. Some were of Tete and going to Maputo, others from Maputo coming from Nampula, other from Beira and me coming from Nacala to Maputo. There were people with destinations and departures from somewhere to everywhere. The people began with presentations and the first analyzes of the situation. That same morning we learn that the bridge up north 70 Km’s to High Molocué had also fallen and this time the people who were intending to return were without the will after realizing that we weren’t going anywhere. We were trapped and did not stop the heavy rain. I started taking the wet clothes that had in my body for hours. I put myself in more relaxed dress in shorts and flip flops because I knew that I was not going out for a few days, I resigned and aware that Mother Nature overcomes these situations and the “man” is impotent in such circumstances. I had to make my camp at the gas station without practically nothing. By listening people means and the serenity of the situation, however a person in the middle of the group said, “This is worse than war!” Another said “God is great and we will overcome this situation” others wanted to know where to find water for bathing and drinking, others wanted to know where to get food, others wanted energy and light, each one with their own anxiety . My first meal was sweet potatoes and ½ sardine can split with another person. At night we ate fruit (of the time/ époque) we were going to buy in the street market, bananas, mangoes, pineapples, and some canned food. The price of the products after falling bridge doubled and in some cases prices have tripled because all the products were running low and there is no more logistics to bring food to our area. I decided to contact the Community Chef, the Consulate and influential people because the state of that region was of calamity, people were dead, left without homes, cars and other belongings all washed away by the strong corrent. Many families have been separated with the collapse of the bridge over the river Licungo the input to Mocuba. Were promised helicopters with groceries and nothing came, the government sent two small boats to get crossings and on the second day a boat capsized with fifteen people where they should only be seven people on the boat. The forces of the river waters Licungo still strong and no due date to stop. People were increasingly anxious and time cost to go during the day and at night with the bugs and mosquitoes was also impossible to rest. I continued to make contacts and on the fifth day at night call me one TV channel (RTP Africa) to know the conditions we were in. After perhaps having seen the report on the sixth day called me the Director of Disaster and Calamity of the government of Mozambique telling me that maybe I could go through a wooden bridge that the population had done and having seen a tarantula near where I used to sleep, soon hastened my departure. On the seventh day I headed north and after 70 Km there I found the fallen bridge and the people asked me for 500 MZN (12 Euros) to help me pass the makeshift wooden bridge. I knew that if the bike fell in the water I would not leave that place, but risked the same. When the bike was the middle of the bridge helpers already screamed for 1000 MZN and that’s what I had to give for the service leaving me just 20 MZN after seven days I was isolated, one packet of cookies I gave the kids there and the deposit of bike full of gasoline. I managed to get to Nampula and Nacala where I caught the plane to Maputo and put the bike in a warehouse for further shipment via terrestrial after the passage was possible. When I arrived in Maputo ended up being treated for Malaria that caught by sleeping in the open. This trip was a great lesson especially not to travel alone in the rainy season but otherwise was very good and a great adventure!

Check video of the passage on the wooden bridge.