#7 From Pomene village, to the red dunes of Vilanculos

#7 From Pomene village, to the red dunes of Vilanculos

“From 27th of Décembre to 11th of January”

Lost in Pomene on the beautiful beach

A few days after Christmas, we leave our friends to go alone to the remote village of Pomene. It is located on a white sand spit, in a coconut forest, at the foot of the large dunes in a natural reserve. A 50km track leads to the village. The driving on sand of the last half is not so easy, but Uyo went well with its 4 wheel drive. Our wheels have no choice but to follow the 2 grooves already made by the previous 4×4. When the track narrows, the bushes scratche both sides of the van body. Crossing another vehicle would be impossible. We keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have to backtrack forever. The climbs are a bit stressful, we have to keep enough speed against the resistance of the sand.

When we arrive near the village, we follow a road that leads to the beach. No one in sight and the night is falling, so we sleep in the van facing the ocean. 

The day begins in the sunshine. Today we want to walk to tip point at the end of the estuary, which fills up with the tides. Walking in the sand takes time, our feet sink into the beach at every step. After 4km, the sand tongue has thinned enough to see both the estuary and the sea at the same time.

We return through the forest to shelter from the sun. The sand is dry, it sinks even more than on the beach. At the last kilometre, a 4×4 stops at our level. On board, two South Africans who own a small hut on the beach greet us. They offer to give us a lift. We are hungry so we accept to get back faster. They recommended us the food of a small hotel, probably the only one still open with the Covid. We go to see if we can get something to eat and if we can find some Wifi. We don’t get either, but a nice cold drink. A passing fisherman wants to sell some big crabs he caught in the sand. We take two for 200 Mzn (2,80€). Very flesh, they will have made us 2 meals. The fisherman cleans them, cuts off the claws and opens them in two while they are still alive.

That evening, while we were cooking crab, a villager interrupted us. He claims he has been sent by the chief of the village. He comes to inform us that setting up our camp near the beach is not allowed. It is late and the rain storm is coming at the horizon. To stay on our camp, we give him our few remaining bills summing up to 300Mzn (4€) even though he was asking for more than double. The next morning, the grandson of the village chief comes to see us. His name is Rito. He tell us a similar story than the one from the man of yesterday. But according to him, this man was not sent by the village chief and was just trying to get money out of us. This time we have time, so we follow Rito to the centre of the village to meet the chief and discuss the possibility of camping nearby with their permission. We are immediately welcomed. The chief apologises for the opportunist we met the day before. He offers us hospitality on a plot of land near the beach equipped with a bathroom in a hut maintained by his grandson, what a luxury! He doesn’t want anything in exchange but we insist on offering him clothes and food to thanks him, which finally go to Rito.

We enjoy this corner of paradise a little more while getting to know Rito better. He is 24 years old, he has a wife and two children. He is responsible of the management of the camp. Unfortunately, it has been almost deserted for the last two years due to the Covid crisis. Rito fishes to feed his family, but the sandy soil of Pomene is not suitable for farming fruits and vegetables, but only coconuts. If tourism does not take off again this year, he plans to move further inland to start an exotic fruit plantation. Younger, he tried his chance working as a tiler in South Africa. However, he was not always paid by his employer, who abused of the unregulated labour force. On the day of our departure, we learnt that he had contracted malaria. It is the first time he caught it and he had a bad experience in his family with this disease due to the lack of care.
We take him to the nearest hospital, 2 hours away, to get proper treatment. It is the least we can do in return of the hospitality offered by our new friend. The journey to the hospital was a little quicker than expected, as the previous day rains had packed down the sand on the road which is now less resistant.
Since, we have received news from Rito. It took several days for the medicine to be effective, but now he feels better, the malaria is behind him. 

Our latest video Episode 6 l A village established in a piece of paradise offers an immersion into the village of Pomene, and drone footage of the beautiful reserve.

A New Year in Vilanculos

Then we headed to Vilanculos. Just in front of this small town stands the archipelago of Bazaruto. Made of 4 islands, it is a place well known for diving and snorkeling with its wonderful reefs. The water is beautiful especially from the view of Bazaruto Island dunes. 200m before our meeting point with Delphine and Louis, our GPS lead us trough a very small and sandy road. Maybe too confident after our last sandy road or too eager to arrive, we take this downhill road. It’s going well until the road turns 90 degrees to the left behind a house without enough space for Uyo. We get stuck in the sand trying to get through the deep sand in the right-hand garden. The whole neighbourhood comes out to help us and after 4 attempts and the first use of our sand plates, we get out of this trap. Uyo did not escape unscathed. A wire got caught in the brake pad sensor (which indicates when the brakes need to be changed). It doesn’t matter, we’ll have to check the condition of our brake pads regularly.  

We finally reach our final destination where our friends have booked us a sunset tour. We will watch it from the red dune, in the north of the city.

The next day, we are busy preparing New Year’s Eve. First of all, the shopping. We go to the local market to find vegetables and seafood for the meal. We are surrounded by fishermen, each one showing off his best catch of the day. We also discovered samosas with fish to die for! It is a local speciality that we had already tried but never of this quality. We take some for the appetizer!

We decided to sleep in a campsite for New Year’s Eve. This way we can be in the heart of the atmosphere and be safe in case some people abuse a bit too much of the bottle. Tonight, the menu is bruschetta, accras and samosas as an appetizer; dried fish, prawns with small grilled vegetables and rice as a main course. For dessert, we will enjoy a chocolate fondue 😋!

Once our stomachs are full, we join our Swiss friends also staying at this campsite for the midnight countdown. The DJ is not quite up to speed with a “three, two, four, three, two, four,…”. Once the hugs are over, we go next door to join another party. In this small seaside town, the festivities went on until Sunday evening. The same music, Mozambique’s summer hit, can be heard around every corner.  At sunset, the large white sandy beach disappears under the rising tide and the people who gather there. The surrounding streets are very lively. Locals gather to chat, eat and especially drink, while children play in the water. 

Bazaruto Archipelago

After a rest day, a new week begins. We resume our activities and our life at two. As for our friends, they are already on the road again. We still want to stay until the end of the week to wait for the wind to blow and give ourselves a chance to kite surf. We know how to steer the kite and it’s time to take lessons again to do our first rides. We will wait until Thursday to have the ideal conditions. In the meantime, we took advantage of the calm sea to go to the islands of Bazaruto and Benguerra. It’s a day trip. We first docked on the largest, Bazaruto. It is made up of sand dunes and over 20km long. We climb to the top of the highest one to enjoy the view.

We can spot the coral reef that we will reach in the next hour. Very shallow, it is full of multicoloured fish. We spend an hour swimming among them. We take full advantage of every moment, observing each species in detail. We capture shapes, colours and sizes in our minds so that we can draw them afterwards despite of having a working waterproof camera. Ours broke down in Ponta de Ouro due to water infiltration. It’s up to you to guess who drew which ones 😉 

Satisfied, we return to the island for lunch, followed by a short nap. On the way back we stop at Benguerra, another island which is inhabited. The villagers live from fishing and many fruit trees cover the centre of the land. The sun is getting closer to the horizon. We buy a fish fillet for tonight, which turns out to be shark, and then head back to the mainland. 
Our last day waiting for the wind, we visit Inhassoro a little further north and its welcoming beach for swimming. This is an opportunity to do some sport. We go swimming along the coast for an hour.
On Thursday and Friday we do a lot of kite lessons. Laurène leads the way and we alternate by session of 1h30 to 2h. The first day, we both manage to get up with the board and ride a few meters pulled by the sail. On the second day, this is it, we succeed our first rides, surfing on the right and on the left. We discover the sensations of slide and speed of kite surfing. A fall time to time reminds us that we are still beginners.

The crossing toward Malawi

That evening, we head north toward Tete, the last big town in Mozambique before the Malawi border. It is very hot, the sun is hitting hard from morning to night. Sitting in our van, we feel the drops of sweat forming one by one before flowing down our bodies by gravity. At night the temperature takes a long time to drop, the coolest hours are from 2 to 5 am.

More than 1000km are waiting for us to reach Malawi. We know from our friends who left earlier that the road is very complicated, so we take some time for our big crossing. The road is long and not always easy but we finally arrive in Malawi. You could discover our journey in the next video which will be released next week on Youtube, Episode 7. 

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