Sunday, 14 June 2015

Mozambique and Egypt

After a few warnings about corrupt border officials and refusal of entry into the country, we boarded a bus from Johannesburg to Maputo. We had a surprisingly smooth crossing through the hectic border controls and rode through onto Mozambique soil. After some interesting driving, avoiding potholes by sharing lanes with oncoming traffic, we made it to the capital and settled down for the night. 

The next day was spent walking round the coastal city for a good few hours. Again warnings of corruption and danger in Maputo appeared unfounded, as we wondered around the laid back and friendly city. I could tell Sammie had spent a fair while in Africa as she said how chilled and pretty the city was as she stepped over a pile of rubbish floating in stagnant water. 

The next stop was Tofo, 10 hours north on the east coast, with a packed bus playing the ever popular game of stopping every 50 metres to let somebody on or off. Upon arrival we found a hostel on a beautiful beach stretching on for miles. The first night we thought we had come to a bit of a dull place, we were the liveliest at the bar and we playing scrabble in silence. Fortunately there was a few arrivals the next day. 

Realising that leaving this place would mean 2 full days on a bus, we decided to settle in and spend the next 10 days relaxing here. We soon established a daily routine, nipping to the market in the morning to get our fresh bread, tropical fruit and vegetables. We then spent the days at the beach, with surfing and volleyball breaking up some long stretches of sunbathing. In the evenings we cooked our meals in the communal kitchen, often eating some of the catches the boats bought in that morning. One night a big group of us chipped in to buy lobsters in bulk, with my 4 costing me £3.54. It was delicious. 

Leaving Tofo we headed on a bus back to Maputo, then a second bus back to Johannesburg. Here our hostel had double booked a couple we were travelling and the owners proceeded to call me a little boy who knows nothing and told our entire group that we were the wrong crowd and they didn't want us staying there. They then kicked us out and left us in the centre of Johannesburg with no transport, phone or accommodation. Sammie was the angriest I've ever seen her, she slightly raised her voice and said 'I think you're very rude'. She was furious. 

After finding expensive new accommodation we settled here for a day to relax after the bus journeys. We then took a long flight to Abu Dhabi before our connection to Cairo. Here we stayed in Islamic Cairo, where dirty, winding, cramped little streets were lined by stray dogs, street stalls and beautiful architecture. The area was bustling with life and you could quite happily lose an hour or two walking round and watching the life around you.

A busy first full day here was spent visiting the famous Giza pyramids and the Sphinx, riding round on camels and bribing police so we could climb the first few steps of the pyramid. We then visited a couple more pyramids across the other side of the city. In one of these we climbed the 1600 steps down into the tombs at the centre of the pyramid, before a power cut caused a complete blackout. It was like a scene from The Mummy. 

In the evening we went on a pretentious sunset cruise down the Nile which we thought would be a chilled event but everyone else turned up in suits paying £7 for a beer. Fortunately a belly dancer turned an awful night into one of the best of the trip. For me anyway. 

We explored the rest of the city, visiting the citadel, mosques, churches and synagogues. Here guards asked to take pictures with us, but wouldn't let me hold their guns, which was pretty unreasonable. The Egyptian museum showed us some amazing treasures retrieved from the tombs of the pyramids and the local bazaars made us happy as the sellers called us Rambo and Shakira. 

After 3 great days in Cairo we took the 40 minute flight to Sharm el Sheikh and spent the next week doing nothing in an all inclusive hotel. Sammie was happy as she got to spend all day roasting in the 45 degree Egyptian sun. The only entertainment here was a few games of volleyball and watching the friendly Russians compete to see who could get the most horrendously burnt. 

This signalled the end of the trip and after a flight home and a night slept on the floor of Birmingham airport we went home to surprise some tearful family members. 

After 10 months of amazing experiences and learning about a completely misunderstood continent, we both feel lucky to have had the chance to see so many beautiful and diverse places. The people we've met have virtually without exception been friendly and welcoming, with none of the danger so many warned us about before coming. The whole thing has been amazing.