Two weeks after moving to the cold, lip-cracking dryness of a Joburg winter, I was lucky enough to go on a road trip to Mozambique, taking in Maputo for one night and Milibangala for three.

Chris, Hannah, Aaron and I set out at 5:30am and made it to Maputo quite easily, except for the confusing border post. We were assisted by a “guide” with where to go, what to sign, etc. It introduced us to something we’d encounter frequently in Mozambique – lots of friendly locals asking you for money.

There is a bit of Maputo architecture that resembles Havana, and the Railway Station designed by Gustave Eiffel is magnificent, but there are far more crumbling buildings and mammoth utilitarian blocks. The roads into and around Maputo are fine, but in the South they’re non-existent.

This is what happens when you’re colonised by the third-world country of Europe and then have a civil war for 20 years.

We checked into the Holiday Inn and 20 minutes later I was lying by the beach in my bikini. Chris read my mind and ordered us Pina Coladas while we soaked up the last rays of the day. Perfect.

And then there were the prawns… Platters-full of ample, succulent crustaceans dosed with butter and a touch of garlic, washed down with ice-cold Laurentina beer. If you’re ever in Maputo, Costa do Sol is the only place to go for dinner. It was easily one of the best meals of my life.

Later in the hotel bar we ran into some American servicemen who were part of a peacekeeping mission. They gave Hannah and Aaron USA flag pins, which I think had a tracking device in case they got into trouble.

The next day we searched for booze and caught the ferry to Catembe. That’s when the real 4×4 “adventure” began… But I’ll write about that next week.

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