We arranged for someone to drive us to the bus station known as the Junta early the next morning so we could secure a ride to Inhambane. We woke up in the darkness at 4:45 am, piled in the car, and paused at many red lights on the way - she explained she did not want to stop because there were many "bandidosh en la noite" (bandits at night). The bus station was impressively chaotic. All sorts of vehicles everywhere, few intelligible signs, and a huge crowd of Africans with their packages and/or merchandise. Immediately we were accosted by men trying to sell us tickets on their busses or minivans. After some haggling in broken Portugese and English we climbed on a bus and grabbed some seats. Quickly the bus was crammed full of chaos - passengers, vendors selling everything from bread and fruit to toilet paper and electronics, and a bus company officer literally pushing and slapping and yelling at the vendors to get them off the bus while a male/female evangelist duo preached/screamed the virtues of JESUS in Portugese... hilarious, beautiful disorder!
An hour later, we were on the road. The scenery in Mozambique was noticeably greener and less depressing/decimated compared to Madagascar - large tracts of palm tree forests with houses and towns peppering the landscape. The internal temperature of the crowded bus kept climbing as the day went on (an internal thermometer showed it went from 24 to 34 degrees in a few hours), but for some reason no one opened a window... perhaps they were afraid of drafts?
After 8 hours on the road we finally arrived at the town of Mixexi, put on our backpacks and walked a few blocks to the port. For 100 metecals (about $2) we and our bags climbed on the the ferry, an old powerboat crammed with Mozambicans, and chugged across a large bay shrouded in diesel fumes and sea-spray. We arrived in the town of Inhambane and again walked across town to the chapa station (a chapa is like a colectivo - a minivan taxi stuffed with locals) and haggled for a price to Tofo.
I don't think I have ever been in a more hilariously crowded vehicle, which fortunately moved slowly. We fortunately found two (very hard) seats, but many of the passengers were standing and hunched over and nearly falling on each other. Seconds after leaving the station we were pulled over by two cops on a dirt bike who immediately took count of the 21 people on board and noted our driver did not have a licence! The driver walked off with then and came back a few seconds later, smiling and having obviously bribed the cops to let us pass. Just when we thought it could not get more insane, further down the dirt road we stuffed 2 more people into our Mozambican clown car! At this point a loud and colorful argument brokenout between some passengers and the driver, who had evidently gone too far even by Mozambican standards. "You need to show your passengers respect!", the passengers accused. "How do I not show respect?!", the driver retorted. And so it went on until we arrived in Tofo and unpacked the sardine can.
Arriving at Tofo was a huge relief, a literal breath of fresh air. Stepping off the chapa I immediately smelled the sea air and felt the soothing breeze... aaaahhhhh. We found the house where we were renting a room and met James, our very easygoing and cool, dreadlocked host who took us on a little tour around town. Tofo has a really nice vibe, chill and happy. Palm trees and clean sand, gorgeous surf and all kinds of laid-back establishments. We had a great and inexpensive dinner at one of the local holes-in-the-wall... mouth-watering barracuda and piri-piri chicken with drinks.
The next day we explored town and took in the beautiful scenery and oceanside vibe. Except for the occasional child-salesmen who insistently try to sell you stuff, the town is very relaxed. The ocean feels good for your soul. That evening we had a quiet dinner with more drinks and had another of our awesome conversations... I like talking with Carr, about anything. There was not much apparently going on in town so we started walking home, whereupon we passed by a restaurant which although closed was bumpin' with some pretty groovy live music. There were some kids outside dancing so I took Carr by the arm and we started dancing together in the street. Before long a voice boomed out in English "hey you know what it's a private party but you're invited, come in!". Cool people, mostly Mozambicans and other Africans but also an American woman and a couple of kids. The owner got us some drinks, the music went on playing, and soon food arrived and it was insisted we eat with them. Later on we all went back to the owner's house a few blocks away and the party grew. It was fun, lots of laughter and interesting conversations.
Yesterday we chilled at home for much of the day, the weather having suddenly gone cool and cloudy. We were invited to have lunch with James and Jerry, who apparently also lives here. We talked for several hours about all kinds of subjects. It was cool. Really chill, intelligent, alive people who feel like they are engaged with life. It's been fun and relaxing and we're both enjoying being here. Last night it rained and the weather is again cloudy and cool... we're again going to take it easy and look into what we want to do if we head to India after Africa.