The day we were nearly arrested in Mozambique!

CAF80D05-48CE-4D8C-BB68-6A44AADCDC3DThis post was originally written on March 11, 2020

After leaving Eswatini (Swaziland) we crossed the border into Mozambique. After years of civil war Mozambique is fairly untouched. Tourism hasn’t hit this country, which makes things so much more authentic, but also a little bit interesting.

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Our first night was in the capital city of Maputo. The traffic is insane, where during peak periods a road that typically has 4 lanes (2 lanes in each direction with a ‘meridian’ in between) suddenly becomes 3 lanes in one direction where we are now in the single lane and cars are coming towards us on our side of the meridian! Does this make sense? Explaining this seems impossible!

The city itself is chaos. As we walked to see the famous train station that was designed by Gustave Eiffel we walked past people selling everything from cloves of garlic to underwear. The streets are riddled with garbage and you have to watch where you walk because the gutters on either side of the road are filled with garbage and bubbling sludge. We definitely got our share of stares as we were the only group of tourists that we could see.Things work at a different pace as well. When we went to eat dinner we had to wait for about an hour and a half for our food to arrive (our orders were things like salads or cheese sandwiches). We were warned that this would be the case so when we sat down we knew we were in it for the long haul.

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Maputo’s Train Station

Needless to say we only had one night in Maputo and soon enough we were off to paradise where things are peaceful and the nature is stunning.

Our first stop has been Tofo. We drove for about 10 hours to get here, but when we saw the crystal clear waters of the ocean we all knew it was so worth it. We are staying in cool little beach huts that are made of grass and bamboo and the roof is completely thatched.

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A few of us girls have become really close (along with our guides) so last night after dinner we decided to go swimming in the ocean under a full moon (and don’t worry – I made sure to give everyone a second full moon…mine just might be a tad brighter). After being jostled around for quite some time in the beautifully warm ocean we decided to turn it in for the night. As we were getting out of the water we could see a couple of people walking towards us. As we got closer to shore we could see that they were actually police officers. They were not happy with us and at first accused us of smoking. Clearly we were drowned rats and could not have a cigarette on us. Suddenly two officers became three and then four. All of a sudden Lucy decided to play Red Rover and barreled past them until she was abruptly stopped. (She had no clue that they were the police!). They grabbed one of the girls by the arm and wanted us to come with them. They didn’t speak a lick of English and clearly we don’t speak Portuguese so there was a lot of motioning and gestures. We decided to keep walking and ignore their demands. I mean at this point we didn’t know for sure if they were even legitimate police! Once we got to our hotel we got someone who spoke the language to come and help us. The police followed us to our hotel and there was a major discussion about how we broke the rules. I have to admit that part of me wanted to get arrested as it would make for such a great story … and I will never forget our friend from Leeds say ‘I’m f&$’n gutted you didn’t get arrested’ as she watched the commotion happen before her eyes. After lots of back and forth and many apologies from our guide they finally left us alone. They told us that we can’t swim after dark however after talking to other local people today we are told that is not even a rule and they clearly just wanted to get money out of us. We had a good laugh after and took our own mug shots.

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This morning we had another life altering adventure. We did an ocean safari. We are soooooo lucky because it happens to be the right season to see whale sharks. They are the biggest fishes in the sea and unfortunately have become endangered. We spent 2 hours out in the boat finding pods of dolphins and one giant whale shark. I had really incredible encounters with the dolphins. At one point I was literally swimming next to them where I could reach out and almost touch them. Probably only one meter away. There were dozens of dolphins. It was absolutely incredible. Words can’t even express how magical it was. I’ve swam with the dolphins before in Zanzibar but this was nothing like my last experiences. There were just a few boats out today and we came so freaking close to them. The whale shark took me to a whole other planet. He came swimming towards me so I got to see his big wide mouth. I was right on top of him and the width of this amazing beast was jaw dropping. I literally was speechless and just wanted to cry in happiness.  It’s so crazy amazing how incredible our planet is. I wish I had photos to show you, but I am sure your imagination can create the beautiful images that I got to experience!

If you are interested in taking a tour that covers the places on my adventure check out G Adventure’s Mozambique, Kruger & Swazi Discoverer

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Eswatini ~ The Kingdom of Swaziland

5D694A63-B984-48D8-9BC6-16714F1095CBThis post was originally from March 9, 2020

On Saturday Kris and I flew to Johannesburg to meet up with our G Adventures group. Not only were we excited about starting our tour but this is where we got to meet up with our friend Lucy (aka Sally). We met Sally/Lucy last year in Brazil and I was able to do my Greece trip with her in September as well. It’s just so awesome when you can make life long friends while traveling and still maintain the friendship even though we live so far away from each other.

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Sally (Lucy), Kris and I reunited!

Yesterday morning we left South Africa and crossed the border into Swaziland which is now called Eswatini. It’s a small country bordering South Africa and Mozambique and has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. The life expectancy is merely 50 years old because HIV is so rampant here. A shocking statistic is that 50% of the population is under 15 years old. Swaziland  is run by a monarchy and the King currently has 15 wives. His first wife was chosen by his mother and every year there is a major celebration where virgin women come and do the reed dance in hopes of becoming his next wife. Basically this like a Swaziland Bachelor – tune in next week as the King chooses his next wife! They dance topless and are chosen based on their beauty and their child baring hips. The first wife then chooses all the remaining wives each year. While we were at the border crossing leaving Swaziland a very official car pulled up and a man wearing the traditional scarves, cloths and beaded jewelry stepped out of the car. He even had what looked to be a cheetah paw hanging from something around his waist. We were told that he wasn’t the king, but clearly was someone within the Royal Family.

For our only night in Swaziland we stayed at the Milwane Game Reserve. It is nestled among the rolling green hills and it truly feels majestic. We stayed in an amped up version of the traditional Swazi beehive hut. They were so cool – there were beds and a full bathroom inside and it was made of a circular thatched roof.

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We also got some unforgettable evening entertainment.

Wildlife was literally outside of our door, as when we woke up to go for an early morning bike ride there was a family of springbok waiting for us. Warthogs were everywhere and there was a family of them who particularly loved laying by the fire to keep warm when the sun went down. On our bike ride we saw plenty of antelope (kudu, springbok, so many horned animals that I can’t remember the names), zebra and crocodile. The hippos weren’t in the water when we went by which made me a bit wary as they had to be in the bushes somewhat close by. The birds where also super cool – colourful ones that I’ve never seen before with dazzling, long tail feathers.

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We only had one night in Swaziland as we’ve got so much ground to cover in Mozambique. Crossing the border into Mozambique took a few hours as the people that work there move at a snails pace. We needed to get Visas so the process was a tad painful. The best part was that they needed to take our pictures to put into our passports with our Visas. We joked about pulling weird faces but both Kris and Lucy were worried that we’d end up in jail. I have a hard time backing down from a challenge so I took on this feat with gusto and walked away with a classic picture. The man processing mine hesitated when he saw my face, but then continued on in his turtle-like manner. I tried to act like making a face was normal, as the rest of the time while I sat there I just kept twisting my face into different expressions. Although Lucy and Kris didn’t pull a face, Kris walked away with an even better picture. It looked like the dude erased half of her hair in Photoshop so she looks like half of her head is bald. We couldn’t have even dreamed up a better picture!IMG_8641 (1)

Tomorrow morning we set off at the crack of dawn where we will reach Mozambique’s coast which is supposed to be absolute paradise.

Until next one…

If you are interested in taking a tour that covers the places on my adventure check out G Adventure’s Mozambique, Kruger & Swazi Discoverer

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Dumb & Dumber Do Africa

This post was originally from February 20, 2020
Hi there Everyone,
It is the final countdown!! In less than 24 hours I will be off in an airplane flying to the other side of the world. I couldn’t be more excited because this time I am heading back to South Africa and then Mozambique and Swaziland (which is now called Eswatini). For this trip I am lucky to have my partner in crime join me…you know the other half of ‘Dumb & Dumber’. Kris has never been to Africa so I am so excited to be with her when she experiences the incredible things like a safari for the first time.
Our first stop will be in Port Elizabeth. Port Elizabeth is a coastal town at the southern part of the country. We will be there for 2 weeks volunteering at Missionvale Care Centre. Missionvale is a non-profit organization that operates in the extremely poor township of Missionvale. It is a centre that provides care for the poor with emphasis on those living with HIV/AIDS. I am not exactly sure what either of us will be doing during our placements as they have told us that they will decide upon arrival what they need most. The community centre offers a variety of services which include a primary school, child support and development, adult skills development, community gardens, a crafter’s unit, a medical unit, a nutrition & wellness unit and a distribution warehouse. I am really looking forward to this part of our trip. I am excited to see what I will be doing and hope that I can make a positive impact in some small way.
While in Port Elizabeth, we will be staying in a volunteer home where there will be others who are doing the same thing. From what I know, it is pretty close to the beach (however we will obviously be working during the day). I have to admit that I am hesitant to swim off the coast of South Africa anyway as I know there are plenty of sharks. Apparently there is a pool at the volunteer house, so that will be a bonus.
Once we are finished with our 2 week volunteer stint, we will be flying back up to Johannesburg to meet up with a G Adventures Tour group. Not only am I super pumped about where we will be going, but my friend Lucy (aka Sally) will also be joining up with us. Kris and I met Sally last year on our Brazil trip. If you can recall, Sally (we like to call her Lucy) is from the UK and met me in Greece this past September. She is absolutely hysterical and will round out the Dumb & Dumber duo quite nicely. Instead of Dumb & Dumber, it will be Dumb, Dumber & Dumbest do Africa. Who is Dumbest you ask? Well, I am sure that our roles of who is dumbest will change on a daily basis.
The G Adventure tour travels through South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. There will be some camping involved (lord help me), as well as some rustic lodges. The itinerary is quite spectacular so I can’t wait to share my adventures with you all.
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Our journey there is going to be a long one as we go from Edmonton to Calgary. Then to Amsterdam and on to Johannesburg. We arrive late at night and don’t leave for Port Elizabeth until the next morning so we have booked a hotel for those few hours. I am unsure how good our internet connection will be once we are there. From past experiences I can expect it to be pretty spotty with electricity cuts being a common occurrence. Needless to say, I will write as I go and send off my emails when I reach areas with WiFi. Everyone keeps telling me to promise them to not injure myself. I can’t make any promises but I will try my very best! The problem with me is that I usually sustain my injuries during the most mundane activities like walking to the breakfast table. I am going to be as cautious as I possibly can – that I can promise.
Anyway, I look forward to sharing my adventures with all of you. Thanks so much for all your love, support and interest in my travels. It means the WORLD to me!
See you on the FLIP side!

Ps. I got key chains made for Kris, Lucy and I and here is the picture on the key chain. I tried to get a photo of each of us looking our dumbest!

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The one on top was the winner, but the bottom two were runner-ups.