Before I continue with my trip around Mozambique … I am back ! Had a trip till a cottage somewhere 4 h distance from Oslo but we had a miserable weather. I guess that is what happens when you go to the mountains in August ! Was nice to get out of the house anyway. My injury continues to be an injury and I have moments when my foot hurts, but will continue fighting with it and probably will get an x-ray.
There was I after a night of nightmare after the car decided to stop on me for good. As you read, I managed to get the car in the city of Chimoio, with the help of the Romanian that lived there for 21 years and I remembered his name : George ! As I found out later he was married to a local, had 2 sons and one daughter, one business in construction and was doing good !
Going back to my problem : After I slept some hours I left my luggage in the hotel and went to the place where the Portuguese had his workshop and my car was. I got the dog with me, and we were getting to be very good friends. She understood very fast how the leash thing goes and was quite happy to follow me.
Went to the workshop had a chat with the Portuguese guy, we both sort of apologised for the way we behaved and he told me he will fix my car. I had to waste my time half of the day so I went back and forth from the hotel to the workshop and around mid day the guy called me. The car was ready. Meanwhile, trough SMS George told me that if my car gets fixed I should drive some 200 km up North and he has a farm there where I can spend the night . I was happy to do that, so I was happy to receive the call. When I arrived to the workshop, the car was there, they done a test, it worked and appeared to be fine.
I was very happy, I asked how much it does all of it and I got a price … hmmm … 600 euro. I asked the guy if I can pay by transfer as I was a short on cash and he accepted. He told me that George told him that if I don´t pay he will cover all my expenditures with him. I thought that was more than nice from him and I assured the Portuguese that I will pay him as soon as I get home and I did so.
I got the car, drove to my hotel, got my luggage, fuel the car, got plenty of water and food, and around 15:00 there we went again ! The road was taking us from Chimoio to Inchope where I would get back on the main road and North to Nacala ! Now, I need to clarify another aspect about Mozambique. They have in there 2 main political parties. Or they had, now there are more. But when you talk about political in Mozambique from 1977 till recent days we talk Frelimo and Renamo. Those are the 2 parties. From 1977 till 1992 they were in a fierce civil war. The area around Gorongosa National Park was Renamo´s HQ ! In the area there has been heavy fighting, and although the war finished in 1992, till 2012 the road was still not repaired properly. Another aspect … in 2013, about 1 year after I passed there, some 200 fighters from Renamo went out on the main street and ambushed a bus and truck shooting till they set them on fire. That is the area that I was to pass trough. Also, I would pass in front of Gorongosa National Park that is being repopulated with wild life. What wild life …. well … some elephants, some lions … this type !
I was a bit worried and especially because of the car. I did not want to stay without the car again.
Still, I drove trough. Some 60 km till Inchope, the road was decent and I thought I am lucky. But I was not. As I went on the main road EN 1 I´ve cursed my days. Driving trough potholes I have done before. I am Romanian and we are not famous for our good roads. Au contraire ! But what I saw on that road were not potholes. I could easily lose my entire car in some of those craters ! Those were trenches from the war ! I was not to be called a road. But kept going and the car was fine and I was happy. 100 km done and I passed in front of the Gorongosa Park road. I noticed and kept going. Some 5 km down the road I saw a sign that had something on it : with paint, by hand it was written “Frelimo para um Mozambique sem muzungu” ! That sign made me worried. Frelimo is the party. Muzungu it is how they call white people in the area. The sig said : Frelimo for a Mozambique without white people ” !!! Did not made me very comfortable I tell you !
5 km more and the car … does what she knows best : stops. I panicked ! As the car stopped, I heard from the forest on my left the african drums and people singing. There was a community around there. Probably they had nothing to do with me, but I was tired, malnourished, dehydrated, stressed and the sign that I have seen 5 km back was not helping as well.
I got my phone out and tried to call the portuguese guy. That was when i thought I go crazy. I had no credit ! I remembered that my wife send me codes for credit and I could charge my phone like that. The codes were 16 digits. I searched all over the car. No pen. I went out of the car. Tried to scratch the digits on the soil. Tough luck. The soil was rock hard. I gathered stones and sticks and I started writing down the digits : 3 sticks was 3, a stone and a stick on the right was 6 ( / o ) and so on . Took me about 30 minutes to do that. I managed and I charged my phone. Called the Portuguese guy. The rudeness came back and his answer : I can´t spend my life saving you. I will tell you what you can try to do, if it does not work don’t call me again. If it works, turn the car and drive back. I felt that I should tell him some 1 or 2 words but I did not want to try my luck. So he explained me : put the handbrake on, turn off the engine. Grab the brake pedal with my hand abad pull it up 3 times. Release the hand brake and then try to push the car and see if the wheels turn. If it works, start the engine and drive back, without using the break pedal. I thought he is joking. He was not. He turn off the call and I got to it.
With my hands shaking I put the hand brake on, the engine was off already, and I went down to grab the brake pedal. I pulled up, count to 5, pulled again, count again, pulled again. Went out of the car, put the hand brake down and pushed. Hallelujah ! I pushed the car for some good 5 meters ! I was saved. Went in the car still shaking of emotions and start the engine. Turn the car and started driving back. Now, I was driving a Honda CRV, automatic. The hand brake is not a lever that you put up and down but a handle that you pull towards you and release. See photo :
The photo is mine so that is the actual car. I now had to drive 110 km trough the deepest potholes I have ever seen without using the brake, without been able to do engine break, as I had an automatic car and with just that handle to pull to slow down. It took me quite a while and a lot of nerves. I was tired. The frustration grew and I was getting more and more nervous !
20 km away from Chimoio, the car stopped again and this time with smoke and got hot. I tried again with the pedal and pushing it and so on … nothing worked. Lucky enough where the car stopped there was a police man stopping cars. I went straight to him and said : My car stopped. I need your help. You must get me a way to get the car back to Chimoio, now. He looked a bit at me and said : Fine! Just a moment. He waves a chapa to stop and shouts at the driver : You need to help this guy. Talk to him!
Now, what is a chapa ?
Photo from : http://www.thechapa.org/ ! You can also google by chapa mozambique and see images. That will help you out a bit. It is a 9 seats mini van that is used as a public transport and I have seen 20 people inside it.
The driver came to me I explained him my problem and he smiled. No worries, we get you there. 2000 metical ! I agreed and he gave me the end of a rope. The rope after we tied up the cars had 1.5 m. I was almost hitting his car. 20 km in the most ridiculous way ever. I managed, he took me to the hotel again. Got a room and started thinking what should I do. I called George and he send me his driver. We took the car and drove to George´s house .
This is the end of my trip. I went to George and stayed there for 3 days. I left the car there and flew back home with the dog. It took me a week to recover. In one week we noticed that our doggy got sick. She suffered for 3 days. In those three days I been with her and every 2 hours I would give her vitamins and water, forcing it on her. After three tough days our Lucky ( ironic is not it ?) died. While in Chimoio I went to the vet to the vaccinations that I needed to do and the vet “forgot” to the against parvovirus. Our dog died because of a dumb vet.
The car stayed there for some 3 months. After a long search we found a mechanic that fixed it … sort of and drove the car the rest of the way to us. We used the car less some 4 months maybe, never on distances longer than 200 km. When we went out of Moz, we sold the car to a South African that wanted a nice car. He tested the car, liked it, I told him all the story and he got a bit worried and asked me a lot of questions. I cut him short and ask him if he wants the car or not … I am not a mechanic I have no clue what the car has. Well, he bought the car and one week later called me. He was worried with a good reason. The car would not work anymore. Would work but only backwards. The gear box broke completely.