Very early the next morning, I got up for an early morning bath in the shared untidy bathroom. Let me not bore you with the state of affairs in the toilet and bathroom, after all, I was the one who wanted a hotel of 300 meticais.
I arrived the Park from where I would take the next vehicle to Beira before 7 o’clock that morning. I was requested to pay 100 meticais to a place called Save from where I would get another vehicle that would take me directly to Beira City. I did not do well by not getting the name of this place – but it is located around Mahave in Inhumbane Province of the country.
We drove through the villages. It was a cool and bright morning. The sunrise and the clear bright sky that morning added color to this beauty. I noticed students walking to school – they seemed to walk long distances, judging from where I noticed the school was to where I saw a few of them. Some privileged students were seen cycling their bicycles down the road to school. The country side was adorned with buildings and farms. The buildings and architectures here were very modest bungalows with short fences. The houses were well spaced and I wondered what it would be like if a neighbor needed the assistance of another late at night – or how one can reach out to a neighbor in the case of an emergency.
In the bus that morning, we were around 25 passengers in all – mostly market women and a few men dressed like civil servants – I assumed they are teachers. We were well squeezed in the vehicle as we had to pick up a few other passengers on the road. According to them, if we do not pick them, they may likely remain there for a long time till another vehicle comes around. I also did not recall seeing any vehicle going our direction till after almost an hour when we joined another major road.
A few of the women in the bus were excited a foreigner was in their midst. I had tried to communicate with the driver in ‘Portu-English’ and it was then they learned I was a foreigner. Some jokingly made attempts to speak English with their local Bantu ascents. “Good morning! Me, I am no speak English well!” Some of them jokingly told me in the bus. I managed to smile and replied them “Bom dia, eu falo um poco portuges” then they all laughed and said something I could interpret as ‘oh, he speaks some Portuguese or maybe he’s handsome.’
We travelled some one hour and thirty minutes in total to arrive another town where I was told I will have to change to another vehicle that will now take me to Beira directly. We arrived around 8am in the morning and I waited till 9am for the next vehicle to no avail. I checked out a few places for breakfast that morning and I was advised they will be out around 9am. I had ‘arroz e molha de carnes de frango’ that is to say rice with chicken sauce. Most street food in Mozambique costs around 150 meticais (roughly $2.5 US). After the breakfast, I had a chat with two brothers who were there also eating with me. I asked them general questions about the town and how soon I could find a vehicle going to Beira. We had a photo together and they wished me a farewell and went their way.
Luckily, I was able to get a bus which was going to Beira. I boarded the bus and continued for almost another 7 hours to Beira. I paid 500 meticais for the trip. The people here were more educated and exposed and most of them were not in the mood to talk. I focused on enjoying the trip and then taking pictures on the road as we went.
There was nothing much to see on the roads. Initially no one looked like they wanted a conversation. Some wanted to sleep, others were busy with their phones, the rest simply looked out of the windows and did nothing.
Our vehicle had a wagon attached to it to accommodate more goods. I was impressed seeing it for the first time. What a nice way to travel with more luggage and more space in the vehicle I thought. I eventually saw this other times in other countries and even back home in Nigeria. Our vehicle broke down at several points during the journey and during one of those stops, that was when I got talking with one other passenger Delvio.
Delvio and Telnio his brother were travelling to Beira. Delvio really spiced up the moments in the bus after we met. He was friendly and was willing to talk about anything but the language barrier was very obvious. We communicated more with smiles and gestures and he also spoke some French.
We talked about languages, music, education and several other things. He is a gospel singer and was also a drummer in his church. He is also a policeman. He loved Nigerian music and knowing I was a Nigerian made him want to know more about Nigeria and the gospel music in Nigeria.
He informed he that he lost his mum and was traveling for her funeral. I was surprised he had that disposition and kept a smiling face throughout the journey. Good a thing, where he lived in Beira was not very far from where I eventually stayed. I promised to visit him and to commemorate with him and his family on the loss of his mother.
The last part of the journey was very remarkable – Delvio had bought some raw cassava tubers and ate it that way after removing the skin. He offered me some of it to eat as well. ‘This is very dangerous and we don’t eat it in my country because it is poisonous’ I told him but he smiled as he told me in Portuguese that am not going to die. He told me that variety of cassava tubers can be eaten and that I should have a taste. I made it clear to him that I had grown up to know that it is dangerous and poisonous to eat cassava raw.
I ate it eventually and I can’t still describe how it tasted. Initially I felt normal within but at some point, I felt my stomach tumbling and this made the remaining few minutes of the journey miserable. Delvio had alighted from the bus 5 minutes before we got to the final stop in Beira when the journey terminated. His brother however helped me meet up with my friend Ordem who was out waiting to pick me up near the park.
I was pressed to use the toilet as a result of this raw cassava I ate. This did not allow me recollect the last moment of that trip. All I recall was that I met Ordem, hugged him and asked him where I could find a toilet. We went to several places – including a Shoprite store – and unfortunately, there was no toilet in Shoprite in Beira. We even tried several other places without success. We finally were able to find a church who allowed us to use their toilet. I will not want to discuss what the toilet looked like here but I was relived from the upset. I am also concerned about the fact they do not have public toilets in public places. A few of the public toilets I saw afterwards required one to pay.
After leaving the rest room, we were joined by another friend of ours, Paulo. I had met Ordem and Paulo on MyLanguageExchange.com the previous year when I started learning Portuguese. They both were very resourceful to my studies and was also the motivation for traveling there. The other reason why I choose to visit was because of their visa on arrival policy.
We left the park to Ordem’s residence. His younger siblings and parents were around to welcome me. They made me feel at home even though there was a huge language gap – Ordem was translating for the both sides. They also had prepared rice and stew with meat – the stew was almost same as the one we have in Nigeria – his mum once had Nigerian friends and she learned how to prepare that from them. Am also sure Ordem who has always asked me about Nigerian dishes must have told him mum what exactly to do for me.
Made some interesting discoveries at the dinner table – they ate Okra raw – that brought to mind the cassava I ate in the vehicle a few hours ago. I wondered why they ate most things raw. A lot of people believed it is nice and healthy to eat Okra vegetables this way.
I went to bed that night, and was very happy I was at a place I could call home – home because I was welcomed by everyone.