I often hear South Africans talk of beautiful Portuguese islands in Mozambique as the true experience of the country. I however don’t agree with this. I think these islands are beautiful, but often show a postcard picture of the country many locals don’t get to experience. For that reason it definitely cannot be the true experience of Mozambique.
During my last trip to the country I decided to hop on a boat used by locals to cross the Indian Ocean and ended up in a shantytown on an island nearby. Jumping on the boat was a risky experience and I thought there was a huge possibility someone was going to fall on the water while trying to get on, but the locals are experienced at this and are ready to help the few tourists who decide to embark on the journey to a part of the country most foreigners don’t get to see.On the boat I met a few South African policemen who told me they guard the KZN/Mozambique border and they said they are originally from Durban but were on their day off and were going to relax in the shantytown. Cheap booze is always a good reason to go off the beaten track.
I also met a beautiful young woman who was travelling with her mother and they were kind enough to allow me to take a photograph of them. We couldn’t understand each other’s languages, but eyes say a thousand words. The mother should not have been there.
Upon arrival I was first greeted by many South African tourists on 4X4s trying to get on the boat so they could get to mainland Mozambique. We traded Durban/Pietermaritzburg insults but they were clearly on a different mission to me and were not keen on spending a second more on this part of town. After passing the 4X4s I stumbled upon a very jovial scene people playing card games, dancing to music and sharing laughs all over the place.
This part of the country also offers beautiful sunsets that provide a brilliant backdrop for the many lovers who were walking on the beach, holding hands and seemingly whispering funny things to each other as they would break out in laughter from time to time. I was then followed by a middle-aged woman who asked me to buy a bottle of beer for her. After buying her beer she sat with me and told stories of how she broke many hearts in South Africa when she was younger. It was clear that, like many young women in this country, she had been beautiful. She still had a great figure that could rival many South Africans younger than her. We shared light and funny experiences we had both been through and she told me about the joys of living in a part of the world that is not always in a rush like Johannesburg is. The thought of moving to a place with no deadlines, bills and traffic is tempting.
Before I knew it the five hours I had planned to spend on the island were over and the last ferry was about to return to mainland Maputo. I left with a relaxed feeling knowing that I had managed to run away from many tourists and had the opportunity of sharing a few drinks with the locals. Later that evening I hit the club scene which is a story for another day.