I was only in Mozambique for a few days, but it was eventful enough for a month's excursion. One of the most notable things that I remember about Mozambique was definitely the moon-sized craters that defined the dusty roads and "highways." There was nothing fast about the roadways in Mozambique. A typical two-hour ride took up to six hours to complete with necessary weaving to avoid hitting gaggles of kids, getting a flat tire, trucks loaded with dozens of workers, and generally just not falling into the massive sink hole looking obstacles.
Plus, it doesn't help when you and your boyfriend at the time get "T.D." (Traveler’s Diarrhea) and have to stop every 15 minutes for emergency bathroom breaks. That's always a great source of entertainment for basket carrying, baby-donned passersby. Unfortunately, the cause of our explosive runs (Sorry for the explicit details, but it usually happens when you travel to remote places -- the more comfortable you are with talking about it, the easier it is to handle) was an amazing dish called "bunny chow." No, there are no real bunnies included, but it is a fantastic concept that some westernized cafes have caught onto.
This simple, yet inventive dish makes stew eating that much better simply because it’s a bread bowl filled with a chicken, fish, or mutton surprise. The chef (usually a loud African woman singing behind a curtain) takes a rectangular loaf of bread, cuts it in half, and carves out the inside. S/he pours in a previously prepared stew and puts the end of the bread bowl back on. You get a little packaged meal that is 100% edible. We happily ate this unique dish as we watched The Karate Kid on a discolored TV lodged between the window and the wall of a little shack on the side of a road.
Later that night we watched the World Cup Quarter Final game in the picnic area of our hostel, cheering and fully unprepared for the horror that was yet to come. The middle of the night, it hits. The bunny chow has come back to say hello and not with a pleasant or welcomed arrival. I’ll leave out the crude details, but I’ll have you know I will never travel without Ciprofloxacin ever again. My boyfriend and I had to take shifts in the bathroom and alternated turns retrieving water to maintain what hydration we had left. Knowing we had a long journey of potholes and crazy driving the next day didn’t help, but looking back, it was quite the adventure. You can’t really travel to Africa and not expect to get the shi….sick at least once.
I’ll stop harping about how ill we got for a minute and describe what a beautiful place Tofu Beach was. The sunset was stunning, the people around town were vibrant, the shack structures were simple, and the kids were clever and crafty. One boy sat with me on the beach and made me a beaded headband as my boyfriend surfed the waves at dusk. It’s still one of my favorite pieces of jewelry I’ve ever picked up in my travels to this day. I wish I spoke Portuguese or we could’ve had an actual conversation without miming, but it was fun sitting together just co-existing even though we knew not one word of the other’s tongue. Oh, wait I knew how to say “Thank you” -- one of the most important phrases, I believe, one must learn in another language when traveling anywhere.
We made it back to South Africa alive, though barely smiling. I remember literally getting out of the car and kissing the ground once we crossed the border and pulled onto a paved road. You’d think I just landed from the moon and was happy to be back on Earth. It’s so funny the things you take for granted on a regular basis and recognize the reality that the people of Mozambique don’t really seem to mind the extra hassle of a Swiss cheese road. I’m really glad we took the mini excursion out of South Africa, especially because I look back on it now and laugh just like the bunny chow laughed at us for 24 dreadful hours. I’ll never look at bread bowls the same.