Category Archives: Tourism

The only (lonely) guest

Most nights I am the only guest. I sit in an empty dining room. Every night the menu is brought to my table, but it only takes me one night to learn exactly what is available and what is not. I really want some soup. How hard is it to make soup? One night I succeed in ordering a cheese sandwich. It is not on the menu, but it exists in the computer system. I am charged 80 MT, or about $3. With a beer and a cabbage salad I feel satisfied.

Guests come and go- arriving before dusk and departing shortly after dawn. One night a lively German tour group arrives followed by an English family. The place is hopping. The Germans are on a 21-day driving tour beginning in Zimbabwe and traveling through Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. Their trip will end in Kruger National Park in South Africa. I wonder if they ever have time to get off the bus. One of their tour guides tries to pick me up. It’s fun to have people to talk with, but I wish them good luck in three languages and say good night. One night I sit at the bar and tell the bartender that it is part of his job to talk with the guests. He laughs and plays along as all good bartenders do. When my food arrives, however, I am sent to my table. Another night I help out some fellow travelers by giving them 5 MT. They are extremely grateful and thank me, but then head to their own table. The next morning as I am waiting to be picked up one of them approaches and begins to chat. He is surprised that I’m from the United States and suddenly wants to talk about the upcoming elections. He regrets not talking with me the night before.

Most nights I fall asleep under my mosquito net with a book. Unfamiliar animal calls cause me to stir. I wake up just before dawn to familiar rooster calls from across the valley. I water the plants outside my house, sit on the front stoop and watch the mist rise. One morning someone is plowing along the river.

I ask the lodge managers when the water will rise and if he has a chance of getting a harvest. No chance I’m told. The water will begin to rise in October and by late November his fields will be completely covered. It makes great fishing for the tourists. Apparently the bass hang out in the flooded corn and and sweet potatoes getting fat and lazy. Yet at this time I year the local fisherman need to work and herd fish into their nets by slapping the water.

At 6 I walk to the main lodge to see if I can find my breakfast. Some days I’m immediately successful, others I’m not. I’ve bought yogurt, granola, cheese and juice which is locked away in the kitchen every night as white toast and marmalade doesn’t last when I won’t eat again until 7 or 8 at night.

I’ve given up asking for a pot to make cowboy coffee and instead drink the provided Ricoffee (instant coffee made with Chicory). The first day I was served sweetened condensed milk. I asked for fresh and it’s been out every morning since. I’m thankful. Sometimes I have to wait for someone to bring the key to open the kitchen. While waiting I drink my coffee, watch the bartender measure and count his stock. Once I tease him and say I know the count- one beer less than yesterday. No one else was here. He laughs. I talk to Rambo, the avocado-eating-scavenging young lodge cat. Sometimes I let him sit on my lap while I wait. I have to watch him as he is quick and will stick his entire head in my juice (or beer) before I can react. Sometimes I’m lucky and there is no waiting my plastic bags containing my special breakfast items are waiting for me at “my” table.

After breakfast I walk back to my “house” and prepare for the day. “Bom dia, tudo bem?”, I call, hoping for a conversation, but only getting a friendly greeting in return. I do the same when I return in the evening. Eventually my efforts pay off. I meet the head chef and ask him if he could possibly prepare a soup for me on the weekend. We speak in English. He is from Zimbabwe. I finally get my soup.


Filed under Mozambique 2012, Tourism

Where is my hammock?

The scene is too perfect-even at the end of the dry season. Bird calls in the morning, frogs singing at night. I long for my hammock which is hanging empty in my backyard in Madiso. Somehow this time I’ve gotten lucky. I’m staying in a resort called Casa Mskia that caters to mainly to fisherman from South Africa and Zimbabwe. Travelers also use it as a rest stop as they travel through southern Africa often arriving no later than 5 pm and departing as soon as it is light- no later than 6 am.

My imagination runs wild with ways to improve the quality of accommodation and food. It has the potential to be an incredibly beautiful yet simple place, but the clients are here for the fishing, not the accommodation and atmosphere. I do, however, decide to water the plants outside my door everyday.

Originally the resort was a crocodile farm and sold both the meat and hides for a good profit. In more recent times it has become a small reserve that includes an animal rehabilitation program. The managers’ daughters were carrying two baby gazelles in a basket both around a month old. On my Sunday off I went for a two hour walk around the reserve in search of giraffes. Apparently, the day before they had been close to the main lodge. However, after fifteen minutes of walking it was clear they had moved.

After spotting track and scat from zebras, wildebeast, impala, mongoose, serval and even feral cat, we found the giraffe tracks. Finally I saw my first wild giraffe. The four are still quite young and haven’t yet reproduced and were brought here from South Africa on 8 October 2010.

Clemente and I spent quite a bit of time watching and photographing them. Later they watched us as we stood and talked.

Casa Msika is located on the Revue River which feeds into the lake created by the Chicamba dam built in 1968 and is only 5k from the main highway between Chimoio and Manica.

This dry season the lake is at an all time low after two years of drought and due to the fact that the dam has recently been releasing water in to the blank river that flows towards Chimoio and eventually the Indian Ocean. The managers explained that by December the lake will be as high as the main lodge and boats will be tied to the rail outside of the small house where I am staying. I can only imagine how gorgeously green it will be. Spring arrived with the rain last night.

As usual I have plenty of time to spare and can often be found sitting on my stoop reading, gazing at the scenery or observing people going about their daily routine.

Cats keep me company.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hammock- the perfect combination of work and relaxation. But I wonder if they even have hammocks here- perhaps in the surfing resorts around Vincolos- perhaps I should start a hammock making business. I can only imagine.

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Filed under Maps, Mozambique 2012, Tourism, Uncategorized