18.10.2009 - 18.10.2009
I'm not sure exactly how it happened. Indeed, I am still in shock and confusion at the whole situation. What I do know is that one minute we were sitting by the side of the road in Maxixe and the next we rolling North through the Mozambiquian countryside on a purple beast which is arguably the swankiest bus I have been on since Korea in 2005, and would be a luxury bus even in Europe. Even if not – it was, after all, the same basic design as buses I had used in Namibia and South Africa – it was certainly the nicest I have used in 'real' Africa: double deck, stewardess service, plenty of leg room, reclining seats, and real working air conditioning were all real 'wow' factors for such buses which are invariably lots of people (and chickens) squeezed tightly into narrow rows of seats, and broken windows the only chance of air con.
Having already been on a chappa (local minibus with the inevitable bits falling off) and a knackered old boat (a ferry of sorts) both crammed with people that morning, such service was, to say the least, unexpected.
But what was really amazing was the fact that there was no livestock at all on the bus, and most surrealy of all was that the bus was ¾ empty. I have never – never – been on a bus anywhere in Africa, North of the Sahara included, which has ever been so empty. Heck, I once even broke into a bus in a depot as i needed somewhere to sleep the night, and even that had more people on it! It is rare that I have even been on a bus which has 'only' been 'full' with the manufacturers specified maximum passengers on it: most buses have been significantly fuller. And to travel almost 4hours on such a bus in such spacious luxury with only a single passenger joining, is an event which even now is almost beyond my comprehension.
In truth, i have started to become a bit jaded with African travel and part of me is starting to desire to be back in Europe where transport (even British Rail) is generally reasonably punctual, efficient and comfortable. But one small incident in Mozambique has proven that African travel still has the occasional capacity to surprise me. Perhaps I won't leave just yet.