Tanzania-Kilwa Kisiwani-Unity Bridge-Mozambique

November 11, 2011 - Mueda, Mozambique

Leaving Dar took longer than we thought as suddenly there was no petrol and we were almost empty. Back tracking into town past quite a few stations we finally found one with petrol. Concerned that further south was also going to be a problem we filled all four gerry cans queuing twice as we were highly unpopular with the locals! It was a long tiring drive to Kilwa Kisiwani since there were many dirt road diversions, very slow going with the mad buses passing by sometimes with a big splash. Seaview campsite offered nothing special except exceptionally high camping rates, there was no sea view but a very short walk onto the beach which was not a nice swimming beach anyway.

From the 11th through to the 16th centuries AD, Kilwa Kisiwani was the most important of about 35 trading sites on the Indian ocean, we visited the island by dhow. We went mid day with a nice breeze and quickly got there giving a lift to several of the inhabitants too. Our guide took us around the various ruins, the great mosque, other mosques, the sultan’s palaces and the trading courts where slaves, ivory, iron, coconuts and gold from Great Zimbabwe were traded for cloth, spices and jewellery from India and porcelain from China. On the way back it was windier and the dhow banked heavily to one side at times with the sea coming over as we all leant in the opposite direction, it was quite unnerving for me!

Driving on from Kilwa we stopped in Lindi for Paula to have a check up with Dr. Brigitte, her fame goes far and people from Mozambique travel to see her! The bill was very cheap. Lucky for us petrol came in as we arrived there but Steve had to do a run around for diesel. There was a local English speaking lady waiting for the doctor so we took the opportunity to find out where to get supplies. Bread was supposedly somewhere near the beach in a container with a little window...only how to get to the beach was a bit of a mystery as it was nowhere in sight, alternatively we could try the bus stand. Then there was the veggie market near the circle, of course hidden behind a maze of little shops where I spent my shillings in many different stores to get some basics. Bread shopping was more unpleasant as I was on my own going around the bus station with comments flying from all the men sitting around. Nothing was obvious so I had to scan each little shop all around the square and ask ‘bread’ until someone understood and vaguely waved to indicate around the corner. Hot and dusty after rummaging for good potatoes and such I climbed into the landy ....where are the wet wipes when you need one?!

It was nearly dark when we got to Ndanda where we had been told that we could stay at the Lutheran church, actually it was Catholic. Everyone had knocked off and we had a bit of difficulty communicating with the guard till he called the Father for us by phone. We were given a four bedroomed house with great beds and bathrooms with security guards for next to nothing! Pushing on early the next day towards the Mozambiquan border we travelled past several road diversions onto a very good tar road (it even had lines!) until we saw the sign for the Unity Bridge in Nangomba. Who would expect a border post to have such a nondescript sign! We headed off down a 56km corrugated, narrow dirt road to Masuguru until the last 6km became tar. After an uncomplicated customs process we drove across the impressive Unity Bridge framed with huge concrete tusks on each side into Mozambique, customs was fairly quick there too. The hunger pangs were hitting and the officials hinting for food so we moved on further for a bite. Six kms later the tar road came to an abrupt end and ran into the bush, we all laughed with disbelief and decided ‘the end of the road’ was as good as anywhere to stop for lunch.

Making a U turn we headed back down the tar in search of the route to Mueda, imagining we had found it we continued 170kms down another narrow dirt road that for the most part was better than the Tanzanian side. Our pleasant surprise was tempered with a few nasty ones as we hit several deep red powder patches. ‘Now we see it.....now we don’t” I laughed as the caravan would disappear in the cloud of red dust. The last patch was exhilarating – how we didn’t get stuck I am still amazed about, my husband is such a pro! Noddy took a pounding as George had to keep momentum but the sandy pit was also filled with invisible bumps. The red cloud soon overtook us and was pouring up over our roaring engine as well as into the car since George had switched off the circulation thinking our powder events were over.

It was a long day and finally just before dark we arrived in Mueda where there was only one place to stay, that was an experience too! Getting into their driveway was challenging, actually impossible by conventional means, both the street and the gateway were narrow. Steve came to the rescue hitching our caravan to the nose of his land cruiser. Noddy and the landy were sandwiched so tightly together at the end of their small driveway that we had to climb through the flower bushes to get past it and could not open the caravan doors. We took a room-en-suite for the night, another great bed but bucket water as the town had an unreliable water supply. Steve and Paula managed to park with enough space to get in, just as well since they are very particular about where they sleep.

Exhausted we ordered chicken and chips which took forever to come. Next day we saw the next supply arriving tied alive and upside-down on the handlebars of a bicycle, no wonder it was so anorexic and tough! Some became vertical momentarily in a flurry of flaps and squawks as they tried to get free. The town seemed to wake around 4am and so did we, fatigued we continued on to Mocimboa da Praia alone as the Thomas’s had unkindly disappeared on us without any communication at all. By evening we had become quite worried since we both have satellite phones and communication is easy if cell phones don’t work but there was no answer to any of our numerous calls. Our day turned even longer as we realised Noddy was in critical condition and may not even make it home.....but that is for the next instalment!

For those worried we have since heard from Steve and Paula, they are fine.



November 11, 2011
The signal is very bad in Mocimboa da Praia so it is unlikely the photos will come just yet. Sorry. Our new cell phone number is +258840634938.
November 11, 2011
Hey Alice! Thinking of you guys, sorry things turned rough with your travelling friends. I pray for a real encouragement, that you are lifted up in his peace and that all things will come together and work out for you and George in the best possible way! Lots of love Jen
November 12, 2011
Sounds a bit rough but fantastic that you are still enjoying the trip. Best of luck and take care.
November 12, 2011
My dear Alice, your expedition journals leave me speechless! you and George are truly amazing and the Byers family wish you safe travels as you explore Africa and we look forward to seeing you safely back in CPT in a few months time. Please take care, lots of love bx
brigitte parfitt:
November 12, 2011
Hi Alice and George, despite all odds you are still smiling - even at one stage through the red powder. Glad to hear that your friends are doing fine and have not been abducted.
YEAH, and the good Cape Town news are, that Table Mountain is the first wonder of the 7 wonders on the continent of Africa. We are proud of our mountain, proud of our city ...... and proud of our dear friends who are heading however slowly back to Cape Town. Can't wait for the welcome party!!! Please let us know whoever is organising it.
Loveyou guys, enjoy your always exciting news, and may God keep you safe. As always, much love, Brigitte and Roy
November 14, 2011
Kilwa Kisiwani sounds facinating. Samuel is learning all about African trade with Arabia, China & Europe. Will print those pics off for him. Had rain & hail in CT yesterday. Year end & exams are looming. Take care
November 15, 2011
Hi ---got ya at last !!!!!! LOvely to know we are in coms agin ---havent as yet had time to read the journal!!! You seem to have been excellent at diairising every thing--- so exciting and interesting----wish we were yonger Well done will be in coms again soon---who is the other Ellie??? Cant be two of us surely---LOL xxxxxoooooo
November 15, 2011
Yes, two Ellies, one young mother of 2 and of course you the grandmother of a few! Ellie meet Ellie.
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