My Odyssey, part II

I arrived to Maputo. Here I left the story. After travelling for almost 2 days, I have finally arrived to Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. I was quite tired so I haven´t lost any time and went straight to my room. I had an appointment set for later in the day to see the car.

Before meeting the Kenyan couple I had another meeting. I was to meet S. A Romanian living in Maputo for 6 years. I met him through internet, some expat online forum and for a period he became my protector. I am not overreacting, as without this guy and his willingness to help I would have been quite in deep sh*t! But lets carry on. Just keep in mind S., the Romanian from Maputo !

So, I got some sleep in my hostel, and in the afternoon I went to meet S., and the Kenyan couple afterwords. I did that, saw the car, S. had a look as well and we took the car for a drive. We went down to the harbour where S. had his office. Working for him was a Mozambican guy, which I can´t remember his name. He was a mechanic. So we will call him the mechanic. He took a look at the car, under the car, inside the car, to the engine, near the engine and he said : YES ! It does worth the money!

So we made a plan : next day I was to meet the Kenyans again, go with them at the notary do the papers and stay with the car. The mechanic was to meet me after and go with the car to change the brakes, check whatever they to check in a car, change the windshield and prepare the car for a trip of 2500 km on a rough terrain.

The next day, which was my fourth day out of Nacala, I went to the notary, got the car and then went to the mechanic ! That was in a place where I kind of freaked out. But let me tell you something first : Maputo, the capital it is nice city.Almost 1.8 million people, has everything what an European might want, including malls, supermarkets, restaurants and so on. Has a beautiful area near the sea with large boulevards and great houses ! But, as being the capital of a third world country … there also places that are not so nice. Well, my mechanic had his workshop in one of this. Oh my god I thought I will not go out of there. I have no photos to show as I traveled with not camera and by that time I was using a phone, not a smart phone. However, I kept my thoughts for me and thinking that I must trust S. I went on! Had to get the car fixed and that was it. Oh… the car was also to be painted… forgot to tell that.

I stayed with the car all the morning and the afternoon as we also had to buy some stuff for it being fixed and late afternoon I went back to my hostel. I kept thinking … will I see the car again ? I did.

Recap ! I was on the run for 4 days. Haden´t ate properly, haden´t drank properly or sleep properly. I was kind of tired after 4 days. Lost some weight as it was rather hot. I was still not fully adapted to the heat in Mozambique so it was difficult.

5th day ! I went in the morning and checked the car. They have finished changing the breaks, the oil, the windshield and  were to start painting it. They did. The car was to stay there one more day. Meanwhile I had some phone calls to make. Besides getting the car I was supposed to go to an animal NGO and adopt a dog. That was supposed to come with me on the trip. That my friends might have been one of  the most stupid ideas that I had in long time ! But this is how we learn …or we don´t !

6th day in the morning I picked up the car. I had with as a copilot a young kid that was from Nampula but he was living  in Maputo on his own. He was a mechanic apprentice. I had to go and buy some stuff for the dog. A transport box, a collar, a leash, some bowls for  food and water. I had to get to the NGO as well and I could not do that on my own.



I have managed to do everything and at 17:00 I was back at the hostel with car, dog, transport, box, food, and all I needed to start driving back home!  The dog did not had all his … actually hers … vaccinations done and I was to do those in Nacala. She was the sweetest thing and got the name Lucky !

Being quite excited and anxious to get home I have decided that I will sleep from 18 till midnight and start driving back that night. So I ate something, went to the room with Lucky and tried to get some sleep. I was to go in the night between the 6th and 7th day since I left Nacala.

At midnight I got the car loaded and I started my journey. My Trojan war was done now it came for my Odyssey. I had previously filled my tank and I also had an extra 20 l of gas in the trunk so I was feeling ready. The trip started …well … I got pulled over by the police in the first 500 m. They were 2 and  had a military guy with an AK-47 in his hands. Got my papers, all ok and  have been very nice. They just asked me for 200 metical (the local currency) in order to buy a ” refresco” (refreshment). As they had my papers I have complied so I can continue my journey.

Before I continue I must give you some additional info. 1 Euro = 40 MZN (metical) . Around 2012 that was the rate. I had with me a card that I could use and withdraw but I was limited to 10.000 MZN / day. Whenever I knew I was to do payments I had to withdraw several days in advance so I have enough money with me. Payment with card was possible but only in some places and farther away from Maputo fewer the chances of ATMs or POS´s. So ready for a 2500 km trip I had with me in cash around 20.000 MZN in 200 bills.

Continuing with my trip. I chose to travel like that because I knew the road from Maputo to Inhambane ( see map in HERE ) it is decent and I can drive without being afraid of potholes. Thinking that I can reach Inhambane by morning, rest a bit and then push on to reach Quelimane by nightfall and that will leave me just 1000 km in the second day. Maputo – Quelimane it is 1500 km through an interesting area. However, this was again one example of thinking ahead that was useless.

Other info that I feel  it might open your eyes : I have absolutely no skills, knowledge or experience in mechanics. In terms of cars I know how to change a wheel, start, drive, and that is it.

Good . Keep going. Around 1 AM, I got to the police control point close to Maputo. Badly signalised, no lights, no nothing I had to use my full beam lights. Suddenly I see a police officer doing me signs to stop. And I do. He takes my papers, checks and I ask him if everything is ok. In Portuguese. He answers me with a disappointed tone : ” No, nothing is ok here”. And tells me how worried he is to see me driving like this, and that I am breaking the rules using the full beam and he also saw  me passing the continuous line. In my favour I can say that there was no line whatsoever !  And as he was blabbering he said something that caught my attention : FINE ! It was a fine of 4500 MZN (110 EURO) that he had to give me. If I pay I got my papers back, if I did not pay my papers would be staying with him. However … he would be very happy to give me my papers back just for 2000 MZN.  I did not really liked it, but I also was not to argue with him. It was him and his AK-47. After some months of living in Moz I understood that you can get out cheaper, but at that moment I was in no condition to argue my way out. So I pay.  I started to get a bit worried there. I was driving for not even 2 hours and I had to pay 2200 already. Can i afford this trip ?

I got my papers and I kept on going. One hour later, still  upset with the “fine” I had to pay I start smelling smoke. I looked to see if there was a smoke somewhere near the road. Was not. I looked again and I realised that the smoke was from the car. Meaning from MY CAR !  I stop the car, look under the hood. There was smoke. It was night. I had no clue where I am. I just knew I was 2 hours and something driving distance from Maputo. Direction North.

I gave some 5 minutes, the smoke went out and I started again. I drove a bit slower. I arrived to a place that was somehow similar to a market, and had something similar to a bus stop. The car was smoking again so I have stopped. I was at least out of the road. And there I froze. I had no clue what to do next. I had no idea where I am, what village is that, what is the matter with the car, how can I fix it … nothing. I had with me 17.800 MZN in 200 bills, a 3 months old dog, some water, dog food, no food for me, a phone and a smoking car !

What did our hero (not) did ? We will find out in the next episode !

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