From Maputo we fly north to Pemba, Mozambique, jumping off point for the Quirimbas archipelago, famed for its beautiful beaches and calm Indian Ocean waters. From Pemba we drive for 4 hours, the last hour on an impossibly rutted dirt road that would be completely impassable with any amount of rain. Passing village after village of subsistence farmers, the trip is a montage of how life is lived in rural Mozambique. People, animals, markets … all are on the road, quite literally. I have never seen so many children. They all wave and call out as we drive by. Antonio, our driver, tells us none of them go to school. The literacy rate in this part of the world is a mere 25%, the same as the infant mortality rate. Life expectancy is 38 yrs. Using the mosquito nets, donated by various charities, for their intended purpose might increase this statistic. But apparently they make really great fishing nets. And fishing is more important than preventing malaria?!
Our resort is named for the village close by: Guludo. Apart from Rita, the Portuguese manager, the staff all come from Guludo. As well, the resort does some philanthropic work in the village and is currently rebuilding the school. Because of this, we are very welcomed by the villagers when we take an afternoon walk there with Majudro and Amissi, two of the resort staff. Amissi proudly shows us his house and introduces us to his family. Everyone greets us like we are old friends. The kids are eager to have their photos taken and then squeal with delight when shown the results on the play-back screen.
Guludo the resort is an interesting mix of amenities, such as outdoor showers and tasty fresh seafood, and primitiveness, such as no plumbing or electricity. The toilet is an elevated outhouse – with an incomparable view of the ocean – that we keep odourless by applying ash from the kitchen fire. The sink and shower are supplied with water that runs by gravity through bamboo pipes from tanks heated in the sun. The shower head is a hollowed out coconut with holes drilled to let the water flow through. Its all very Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Mornings come early as our “banda” faces east and the sun wakes us at about 5:30. The beach and the ocean are at their coolest so we swim and have coffee on the shore without fear of frying. After breakfast we walk for a couple of hours down the beach, swimming when we get overheated, trying to work off some of the food we’ve been indulging in. For most of the rest of the day we are lazy, reading and sleeping in the shade.
By 6 PM it is dark, the only light coming from the 3/4 moon, a few kerosene lamps and a couple of solar powered flashlights. We sit under a starlit sky and share a bottle of wine with Rita, the resort manager, and her friend David, who is visiting from London. Because it is the low season – i.e. too bloody hot and humid for anyone in their right mind to be here – there are no other guests.
My one complaint about going sans electricity is the lack of a fan to make sleeping a bit more comfortable. And try finding anything in the dark with only a small flashlight. But these are first world complaints, as Craig is fond of reminding me. And this is definitely not the first world!