Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Paradise Found (Mozambique Part 2)

(This post is a continuation. For Part 1, Click Here)

We arrived off Inhaca Island after an uneventful three hour ferry ride and the boat dropped anchor. Because the tide was out, smaller boats met the ferry to take us to shore. The island had a very "tropical" feel and looked beautiful from the boats. I couldn't wait to enjoy the beach and the ocean.

The plan was to find a place to stay and if nothing was available, go back to the capital on the return ferry later in the afternoon. There were all sorts of people who waded out into the water to meet the small boats. They offered to carry bags and show people around the island, for a fee. After noticing the bags we were carrying, one guy offered to show us to a nice place to stay. I was a little wary but we followed him onto the island. He took us to a little place that was owned by a local guy named Fernando. Lucky for us Fernando spoke some English and had 3 rooms available. The lodge had showers, a self-catering kitchen, and the rooms were very nice. We dropped our bags off and set out to explore the island.

We asked around for a good place to eat and where the best beaches were. We found a great little bar and restaurant that had fresh fish and good beer. The problem was the beaches. The best beaches were on the opposite side of the island about 12km from where we were staying and too far to walk. We got a few quotes for transport to and from the beach but they were all around 2,000 Metacais (about $75). As we left the restaurant, we noticed a guy sitting in a big Land Rover. We asked him if he gave rides to people and he offered to do it for 1,500 Metacais ($55).  

The guy's name was Virgil, but he went by the nickname "Peri Peri." He had been an economist for the government of Mozambique and had even worked for the United Nations. He is retired and has lived on the island for the last 12 years. He was a fantastic tour guide and told us all about the island. He even let us use his beach umbrella and some masks and fins to go snorkeling. I was still a little hesitant to be paying so much money just to go to the beach for the day but the beach was beautiful. We had the beach to ourselves for the entire day and spent our time relaxing, swimming, and snorkeling. The water was a little murky but the snorkeling was good. The water was incredibly deep and dropped to 40+ feet only feet from the shoreline. I spent a good portion of the day diving down as deep as I could on a single breath and watching fish. It was a difficult place to leave.

The other great thing about staying on the island is that besides tourism, a major source of income for people on the island is fishing. Every day after lunch the fishing fleets would return and sell some of their catch right off the boats. We bought a large fish that weighed over 1.5 kg and 1 kg of squid for 350 Metacais ($13) and had fried fish and calamari that night. Fernando, the lodge owner, even showed us how to prepare the squid and make it into calamari strips. The next night, we bought some more fish and made fish tacos. It was so nice to eat seafood again. In Botswana it is very expensive and not very fresh so I never eat it. 

Our time on the island came to an end too quickly but I enjoyed getting to swim in the ocean and overindulging in seafood. It was not quite the vacation we had planned but things ended up working out pretty well, all things considered. The last day on the island was quite windy because there was a tropical cyclone passing between Mozambique and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The wind was blowing steadily and had whipped up the waves in the bay. There were waves ranging from 3-5 feet. The ferry ride back was pretty rough and there were several people on board that got seasick. There was even a time when I thought the boat was going to capsize because of a big wave. 

We finally made it to the docks back onto dry land to spend the remaining days of our vacation back in the capital.