Backpacking Journeys – Tofo, Mozambique

We made it! After two days of on-and-off traveling by bus and walking through international borders, we reached the Fatima’s hostel branch in Tofo, a badass backpackers’ lodge right on the beach. The bus ride to Tofo was a schlep. We weren’t really on a bus, but a glorified kombi that picked up people along the away until we were all squeezed inside. We were told the ride would only take 5 hours, but it was more like 8. Plus the rain and humidity made it a steamy journey. Most people would either throw their trash on the ground when they were done with their snacks and drinks or throw it out the windows. I was really shocked at first, but then I thought about how much Americans waste and throw out. The biggest differences are that it’s just not in our faces in the US and Americans probably waste more anyway. Every time we stopped in a village, people would run to the bus to sell their wares: plantains, yams, coconuts, roasted cashews, oranges, soft drinks, water, baked bread, woven baskets, and toilet paper. In one village, two people had large bottles of dark, amber honey as well as coconut oil.

I was so thrilled to be in Tofo. We basically pitched our tent right on the beach, kicked off our shoes, and all but ran down to the shore. Even though it was cloudy and windy, the sight of the ocean was breathtaking. I don’t think I realized how much I missed the ocean until I spent 2 months landlocked in Botswana. The water was warm and glorious, the waves rolled and crashed over us.

We met some cool people at Fatima’s including a super chill French guy named John who was staying in the bungalow nearest to our tent. While we pitched our tent and got settled in, he wandered over. John was bald with red facial hair and he had tons of tattoos. He was dressed in beach bum clothes. He introduced himself by offering us his joint. I found out the next day that he’s a surgeon at a public hospital in Paris! He has also performed sex change surgery. Hey, I guess people surprise you all the time!

It didn’t take us long to find the market. We walked down the beach for about 10 minutes after swimming and came across vendors selling the typical overpriced tourist fare: beach wraps, decorated flip flops, pants, bags, cowry shell jewelry and crafts, of course. One dude who showed us some mass-produced paintings had the audacity to tell us that his grandfather painted them! I guess his grandfather had also painted the dozens of copies floating around the market. There was even an exact copy of one painting hanging above the guy as he told us that. My friend laughed as said, “mentiroso” as we left. Liar. Even though the exchange rate from meticais to dollars favors the dollar obscenely, most of the prices were obvious rip-offs. The food prices were good, though. The women selling produce kept beckoning us over, calling us “sisters” and “friends.” We bought enough for breakfast: eggs, veggies, and bread and we planned to use the outdoor kitchen at Fatima’s camp site.

I hoped the weather would clear up enough for us to snorkeling with whale sharks.


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