After having all the Moz 27 volunteers from Nampula at my house for Christmas, I was excited to finally get to do a bit of traveling for myself as my friends Eléonore, Tom and I headed out of Monapo and made our way to Eléonore’s site on the other side of Nampula. She technically lives on the same road as me, the EN8, but is probably my furthest volunteer as she lives literally where the road ends. We headed out from my site early, catching a boleia (free hitch hike ride) to Nampula city in a pickup truck that had an adorable puppy in the back! If we hadn’t had a recent good streak of luck with catching boleias recently, I may have said this is the best boleia ever.
After arriving in Nampula, we had a quick and delicious shawarma lunch before running to Shoprite, the American style grocery store to stock up on food and snacks for the next couple days. We headed out to the chapa stop around noon to make the 5-6 hour trip to Eléonore’s site.
We thought we had good timing because right as we showed up we were hearded onto a nice bus heading straight to Malema. Unfortunately we had to then wait for nearly two hours baking in the sun for the bus to fill up before we could leave, but still were glad to be in a bus rather than the more crowded and more uncomfortable chapa.
Eventually, the bus filled up, meaning there were five people squished into each row intended for four. We were happy to finally be on our way with a nice breeze blowing though our windows, until about an hour later when we experienced our first of what would be four breakdowns.
Each time the bus would break down, we became more and more concerned that we were not going to be able to make it to Eléonore’s site before dark. We began to try and catch a boleia that may have been able to get us to the next town over where we may have been able to get on a different bus.
This led to multiple arugements with the bus driver, as he thought we were trying to jump ship without paying. Luckily for him, there was basically no traffic and we weren’t able to catch a ride. After more than 7 hours, we finally were seeing the end in site, and just had to cross the train tracks to enter her district, but in continuation with the luck we had been having this entire journey, we got stuck behind the train stopped in the station for more than 30 minutes. All we could do was laugh as even the Mozambicans on the bus were complaining about how ridiculous this trip was.
Eventually we succeeded in passing the train tracks and arrived in the district of Malema, aka Terra da Cebola, aka Land of the Onion, where we were assaulted by tons of kids offering 25 liter buckets full of onions for 100 mets ($1.50) through the windows of the bus, which we firmly but politely declined. When we finally got to the chapa stop, we surprisingly made it to Eléonore’s compound without incident, washed off the dirt and sweat from traveling, and settled down to eat some grilled cheese sandwiches before heading off to bed. We are spending a couple days resting in Malema before we spend another day or two travelling to meet some other volunteers at a resort for the New Year, hopefully this trip will go a little smoother, but knowing Moz my expectations are low!