I have never in my life dreamed of taking vacations that involve sitting on the beach.
I’m changing. Maybe it’s because I’m nearing 40 and activities like “sitting” are appealing in a way they weren’t before. But if “aging” makes it easier to enjoy a vacation at the beach, then bring it on!
Actually, after our two day trip in the car we did very little sitting. The water was as warm as bath water in some places, and we were overjoyed to find that Mozambique is the exotic, tropical Africa we were dreaming about. Mangos, cashews, coconuts, and fishermen bringing fresh seafood in from the Indian Ocean. A white sandy beach, no tourists other than us, and not a drop of rain! It almost felt like we were movie stars with our own private island, all to ourselves. We woke up in the morning to 530 sunrises and from our oceanside casa, we could hear the Mozambique fishermen down on the beach starting their day. It is quiet and secluded here at the Archipelago Resort. The only sounds are the gentle rolling of the tide, and the clickety-clack of palm branches that sound like raindrops in the breeze.
The bay that stretches out to the Indian Ocean in front of us is speckled with the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, and full of fishing boats out catching prawns, crab, fish, calamari, and lobster. They sit in dugout wooden boats, with 2-3 rowers on each side, and fill the horizon with leaning, 3-cornered black sails that tack against the breeze. They fill the boats with fish then bring them in to the beach, where the women are waiting with huge plastic tubs to carry the seafood away on their heads.
Mike and I thought it looked like a fish market, right there on the beach. Everyone is wearing bright African dresses, painted fabrics that look like funfetti sprinkles against the white sand. With the blue sky and black sails and palm trees waving, we felt like we were in the pirate scene out of Swiss Family Robinson. Only peaceful! The Mozambican people are friendly and hard-working, like all Africans seem to be. Africa is a complicated continent, with incredible corruption that drives the impression of an unstable culture. But the regular people, the ones you meet when you are just living your daily life and being a normal person, are diligent, warm, and kind. I didn’t get any beach pictures because I didn’t want to take the camera near the sand, but we couldn’t go anywhere without seeing people working.
The men were out all day and all night in their fishing boats using only the light of the moon, while the ladies and children seemed to spend all day carrying water. One of the young women down on the beach asked Mike for help lifting her two huge baskets onto her head. Both were filled with water and fish, and weighed at least 60 pounds. That would be like giving Jake a 10-lb bag of flour and carrying him around on my head! Amazing. We thought it was neat that she asked Mike for help. In this picture, you’ll notice that they also often have a baby tied to their back.
Because the water was so shallow and warm, we spent most of the day wading along the coastline to swim and explore the fishing boats moored just off shore. Eli refused to walk across the wet sand where the little sand crabs lived, but spent hours immersed in the task of creating an elaborate system of sand castles and water ways. Jake spent most of his time flopping head first into the water, and has become a swimming fiend! We are really proud of him. I can’t believe that both of them can swim now!
One evening, we accepted an offer of a boat ride from one of the fisherman. They had been asking us all week to buy seafood from them, but since we didn’t want to do that (this is vacation and we’re not cooking and doing dishes!), we thought we could support them by paying for a boat ride. So we had an up close and personal experience with a Mozambique fishing boat.
Here is the guy painting our boat, and what it looked like out on the water:
We sat on wooden boards and shared the journey with some leftover sea creatures, and thought our 90 minute ride was just about right. We saw flamingos on the coastline and learned a little about the history of the area through our friend’s broken English (they speak Portuguese here, as well as several local languages), and watched the sun start to go down over the waves. When Jake and Eli started getting restless, and when I saw that we were also sharing the boat with a bunch of bugs, we were glad we didn’t agree to the 6-hour trip out to the Archipelago. Snorkeling and diving are what “everyone” does when the come to Mozambique, but we will look forward to doing that when the kids are older. Right now we are still trying to talk them into putting their faces in the salt water!
They are still more interested in flying kites,
Watching TV in the hotel room,
Doing the puzzle (I have two kids that like to do puzzles!!!)
And pretending to be Meerkats. Here they are with their meerkat tails on. Jake and Eli, what are you? “Meerkats! My name is Apple Pie, and Jake’s name is Strawberry Pie!” So cute I can’t handle it.
Jake has a thing now for making drinks. Every evening at our casa, after a day at the beach and maybe an afternoon trip to town, we would have Happy Hour before going to dinner. A civilized dinner, at 8, where everyone put on clean shirts and combed their hair, and I wore a dress and lipstick. Jake was the bartender. Rum or gin and tonic for us, a Capri-Sun poured in a glass and mixed with sparkling water for the boys. We remembered the Tim’s! Then we walked to dinner and we were the only people in the restaurant, so the chef would make us whatever we wanted. We had prawns, lobster, calamari, curry, and some kind of “big game” fish (marlin?) that Jake and Eli asked for every night.
Daddy of course got his pink drink.
At night we would come home and climb into our bed nets. Lots of mosquitos here. We had a ceiling fan above our bed, and at night, the top of the bed net would be covered in mosquitos. It was almost like they had gotten trapped in the vortex of the fan and then couldn’t fly away. So gross. We were very thankful for our net.
We are very thankful for everything! This vacation almost didn’t happen, but it turned out be wonderful, and exactly what we needed to refresh our perspective on why we’re here. Mozambique is definitely a treasure, a difficult-to-get-to-treasure, but totally worth it.