Mozambique - Noddy in Trouble

November 19, 2011 - Pemba, Mozambique

Leaving Mocimboa da Praia after one night we hit the road to Pemba very slowly and carefully as there were lots of potholes and even the tar was corrugated in places, we were travelling less than 20kms/hour on many stretches. Fifty kms later the axle broke and the wheel came off fortunately at the side of the road in the sand. Now we were really stuck in the middle of no-where. ‘What are we going to do..... what are we going to do?!” George kept saying rubbing his face with anxiety.

After a short time a pedestrian passerby had stopped eager to help then an empty lorry that was going to Mocimboa da Praia pulled over. With much sign language and discussion between them we managed to convey that we needed to get our stuff back to Mocimboa da Praia, thankfully they agreed to help. We emptied most of the caravan contents on board. The men were very helpful and insistent that everything was taken out even fighting to free the wheel pinned under the caravan... clearly theft was a big problem! We sent them on a few minutes ahead whilst we tied up last things. Maps had been drawn in the sand and all seemed in agreement as to where we were headed, we had seen a truck depot in Mocimboa da Praia and thought maybe they could help. The Thomas’s finally called, we heaved a sigh of relief, all was okay but this was no time for small talk! We left Noddy thoroughly rested on one damaged side and tried to catch up with the lorry which had disappeared very fast. Suddenly all the thoughts were flying through our head as to how stupid we were to trust that they would not take a diversion and ride off with all our kit, laughing all the way at us ‘stupid muzungus’! The nerves climbed as the kms closed in on Mocimboa da Praia and we felt for sure they must have gapped it since we had driven exceedingly fast. We scanned the side roads and checked every lorry we passed nervously. On the last corner a few metres from the depot there was our lorry waiting, we were astounded and greatly relieved! The depot could not help with the storage of our stuff or recovery of Noddy. After a run around we found a place next door which could both accommodate us and store our stuff so we began off loading. It was so very hot that I could not even hold onto the truck to climb on board!

Next George set about trying to organise a flat bed to rescue Noddy.....what.... a flat bed in northern Mozambique?! ‘There is nothing around here’ we were repeatedly told.  Ilha Vumba turned out to be the best place we could have stopped, we found some key people right there at the bar. With lots of brainstorming and phone calls a plan was formed. It was looking positive and George was to set off with ‘Wise Man’ the manager of another workshop at 5.00am the next day to fit a temporary axle and bring Noddy back. The biggest problem had been the logistics of getting Noddy onto a truck. They did have big trucks with hoists but they were not designed for Noddy’s height and she may have been crushed. Gulzar the owner of the transport company had all the answers – trucks, crane lifts, information and most importantly good English...... ‘just say what you need and it will be done’ he said authoritatively! We felt comforted.... but not for long, George got a call later that night, Wise Man cancelled as the boss had changed his mind and we were left hanging and very disappointed!

We spent the night anxiously wondering if Noddy was going to be in one piece or whether she would be written off. Somehow we again woke just after 4.00am and the Noddy thoughts did not allow us to sleep in. We began to brainstorm other ideas and George found a rescue service on the internet in Pemba, they had all we needed but there was no truck driver and things were not likely to change for some days. They gave George the contact of another friend in Mocimboa da Praia so he went off to see if they had the equipment to rescue. Sadly not, there was just no way to get Noddy onto the truck. Finally Wise Man got the go ahead from the boss but was not allowed to assist, he sent one of his bakkies with the temporary axle and equipment along with 3 other workers none of whom spoke or understood English. Finally they were on the road and sometime later the phone rang, George was checking in and announced that Noddy was fine, they had only stolen the outside lights and the  tyre we left attached to the caravan was flat. They set about jacking Noddy up and carefully fitting the axle. True to normal African standard the rescue bakkie was not well equipped but lucky for them we had done a quick scout around to see what we had that could be useful. George threw in extra ties, a fold up spade and had some wood in the caravan all of which was vital.

Back at the lodge I fought with the laundry trying to get some water out of the taps, fetching buckets and trying to make some order out of the chaos in the room which was now our storeroom and bedroom. One bonus was the aircon but the internet was frustratingly pathetic! Seeing that the taps worked outside and in the kitchen I enquired as to where we could have a shower since our water supply was clearly dysfunctional. They omitted to tell us that we had to ask for the pump to be switched on! I was pleased that at least that night George would be able to wash off his filth off properly.

The evening drew on and my anxiety began to climb, George had tried to make contact but his sat phone ran out of airtime and I could not get through to him. Eventually I called Wise Man to ask if he had heard from his guys, there was no news but he enquired from some truck drivers that had just come in and they had seen Noddy about 20kms out. It was not clear if Noddy was on the move so Wise Man and I decided to take the landy and go and find them. Just as we were getting in George arrived triumphant and exhausted, it had been a 7 hour rescue mission! I heaved many huge sighs of relief and gave Wise Man a big hug to say thank you. We celebrated Noddy’s safe return with a bottle of Graca and ‘prawns peri-peri’ (don’t forget to say it with a Portuguese accent and use your hand for emphasis like George), the best we’ve ever had! Of course I told George a million times how proud I was of husband is such a hero!

We slept well and the next day moved all our stuff to the workshop storeroom sorting out what was needed for tent camping. Now it was a wait for the axle and since it was impossible to draw money in Mocimboa da Praia we had to travel 6 hours to Pemba to find another ATM! This was not so bad since sitting around in Mocimboa da Praia would have been dismal anyway and at least we would catch up with the Thomas’s. Cross Country Insurance had been contacted, a new axle ordered and now we had to wait in Pemba for the completion of the process. George had had a very frustrating time communicating with one party or another in the chain of supply frequently being left out of the loop. Not knowing the progress made to help our situation has been the most frustrating thing to deal with for him exacerbated by the bad internet and cell phone signal in Pemba too. 

Many prayers went up for Noddy and our situation from us and our friends, thank you! Again we experienced that God really provided in every way! We both know God’s love and hand over us in a much more fundamental way from this journey. So many times His joy has filled me and been my strength and I am so thankful to be His!



Kilwa Kisiwani by Dhow 005-550
Kilwa Kisiwani 071-550
Kilwa Kisiwani
Kilwa Kisiwani 100-550


brigitte parfitt:
November 19, 2011
Hi guys, I love your adventurous stories but this one was breath-holding. I imagined what you must have thought and felt, specially as there were also many times we you could not even communicate. Expectations and disappointments changed batons. And here we sat in our organised homes, driving our lovely cars on lovely roads and eating roast chicken with a bottle of wine. Shame on us !!! I am so glad that the story has had a good ending. what do they say: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger !!!! or "builds character". In my case on Thursday having nearly finished assignment with abt. 2400 words and 'swoosh' it got deleted. Only hard copy i had came to abt.1300 words some days ago. Oh, well, I am nearly finished once again but what a nightmare. Will continue to pray for you, dear friends, till we see you in Campsground Road!!! YEAH. Much love, Brigitte
November 20, 2011
I am so glad that you succeeded in rescuing Noddy. Well done George !!! Alice your commitment to God is special. Lots of love.
susan hall:
November 20, 2011
So thankful that you have been protected. And really thumbs up to you guys for been faithful and patience. So wonderful that God has protected and solved your situation eventually. We stand in awe of your courage and determination. Your commitment encourages us and I am sure many other. Lots of Love
November 20, 2011
Dear both,

oh my god!!! Well, you know, this wouldn't have happened had you decided to travel Germany, next time just come by here... ;-)
We are very glad everthing seems to get sorted, good luck for the new axle and an extra hug for Noddy!!!
November 21, 2011
Gee... Glad that you are both safe and sound. Really speaks to Romans 8:38-39 - not even this is seperating you from God's love and His promises to keep you safe & care for you. Wow! A simply amazing Noddy rescue. Keep well.
November 22, 2011
Hi George and Alice,

This one sounded like your most testing experience so far. I am so happy to hear all ended well and hope that by the time you read this message that the new axle has reached you and been fitted properly.
We really had a stunning summers day on Saturday only to turn back to winter by Sunday with a nice couple of showers. Since than it has remained fairly coolish.
Carol and Sinclair were ordained as deacons on Sunday together with 17 others. And also 3 new elders couples. I think there are in the region of about 60 elders now among the 5 congregations. That would be Rondebosch AM and PM, Inner City, The Range and Wynberg.
We have been told that we will be shutting for our annual leave on 15 December and I am really looking forward to it.

I will chat to you soon again.
Stay safe and drive carefully.
GOD bless and warm regards.
November 22, 2011
Uli - your e mail address does not seem to work returns says permanently dysfunctional. please e mail me Great to hear from you - when is your next African adventure!

Thanks all my other dear friends for your comments when we are out in the sticks like we are especially with such poor signal it is great to hear something!!
November 27, 2011
Hey Alice,
sorted out my problem and wrote you a direct email! Thanks for not losing your patience with me!
Safe travel onwards,
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