Updated: May 8, 2020
"You've got to be kidding!" I said to my fiancé, Rob, the night before our wedding, "Mozambique?!"
He had planned the most extraordinary, albeit daunting, honeymoon: a road trip through the untamed wilderness, in pursuit of a beach villa in the remote town of Santa Maria. My heart raced. I glanced at our newly purchased Suzuki Jimny and thought, "Adventure awaits!"
With church bells still ringing in our ears, we potted around our home in Sandton, South Africa, rustling together food, clothes and gin. Only the essentials. Rob used his expert Tetris stills to cram two weeks' worth of supplies into Jimbug and soon we were off into the sunrise, fuel canisters jingling in our roof rack and "Born to be Wild" blaring on the radio.
I was so besotted with my handsome, freshly caught husband, that I had forgotten to ask all the right questions: how far to Santa Maria, how will we get extra food, who's going to do the dishes?! But before I got any answers, we arrived at our first stop- the glamorous Jozini Tiger Lodge. "Good job, Rob!" I thought as we sipped sun-downers, watching the sunset dance on the surface of Lake Jozini.
All too soon, we were packed up again, headed for the Kozi Bay border. As we entered the rural township of Kozi Bay, I turned to Rob and finally asked, "If we're staying in a self-catering beach cottage, in the middle of nowhere, how will we get supplies?" Rob grinned a peevish grin and turned into the parking lot of the local Spar. I gawped. It was pension day and monthly shoppers swarmed the area. It reminded me of a Katherine Ambrose painting- where colours, chatter, arms and legs blend together in a symphony that is so, quintessentially, African. Beautiful as it was, the scene was also chaotic and I chose to preserve my Jozini glow by staying put in the car, leaving Rob to battle his way through the shop. As I watched his beautiful form recede, I shouted out the window, "Don't buy any afval, you nut!"
Thankfully, we approached the border, afval free. Rob looked sideways at me and said, "Just do as they say and we'll get through quickly." The lawyer in me was irked. I knew the African "greasy handshake" all too well and I was not one to partake. As we expected, we were treated to the subtle intimidation techniques we had become used to as South Africans- a cold nod, a slightly rude "hello." It wasn't long before Rob and I were called into the office by a border patrol officer, who, after rifling through our documents a few times, raised his eyes at us and, with steely authority, said, "You must pay importation tax for your fuel."
I felt Rob's hand tighten on mine. He knew what was about to go down.
"Sure," I said coolly, "If you could just direct me to the legislation that shows that this is required?"
After a ten-minute glaring standoff, the officer grunted and waved us off.
Triumphant, I insisted on driving the first half of the journey. Rob tried in vain to make me see reason, saying that I needed more 4x4 experience before tackling the Mozambican landscape. "Pffft," I arrogantly responded, "The GPS says it’s a highway." But a highway, it certainly wasn't. It was just bush. Bush, bush and more bush. The "roads" were weather beaten tracks that had been carved out of the tangled wilderness by vehicles over the decades. If it wasn't for the bright purple line on the GPS saying "go that way," we'd be completely lost. Oh, the adventure of Africa!
Driving on heaps and heaps of sand was pure, exhilarating fun! Jimbug managed the uneven, wavy surface like a pro- his tactile reflexes helping him to bounce off the dunes like a Springbok. The feeling was like driving on the ocean, a dusty, hot, free ocean. However, Jimbug was a fully-loaded 4x4 and maneuvering him was not an easy task. I eventually gave in and Rob took over with a fervour, blasting down the sand track like a bat out of hell. All I remember was my head beating the inside of Jimbug's roof to an AC/DC soundtrack.
Eventually, night began to fall and we started to worry. We had been told not to drive this route alone at night and with no convoy, we were a prime target for hidden bandits. Rob picked up the pace, bounding through the elephant reserve at top speed. As the cool dusk fell, I rolled down my window and took in the aroma of the bushveld and the sounds of the crickets striking up their night band.
Rob's jaw was set, I could see he was worried about our safety. We could barely see an inch in front of us, our only guide being that glowing purple line. Our eyes pricked at the darkness, scanning for predators.
Then like a mirage, we saw the most magnificent sight unfold before us- the beautiful sparkling ocean! Rob drove straight at the sea! We hit the beach sand and tumbled out of Jimbug in joy! Just a few meters ahead, we saw people gathered around a beach bar. They greeted us with a warm, " Tudo bem?!"
With the moonlight glimmering on the ocean and a sweet R&R in hand, Rob, Jimbug and I started our Mozambican honeymoon adventure!