There's something about a nice beach place, it doesn't particularly encourage you to do much anything. I'm not a beach person, and cannot understand people who book a two-week holiday to a Greek island or similar; I think I'd die of boredom. However, arriving somewhere peaceful and picturesque whilst backpacking is a bit different; after weeks of moving around nearly every day, manouvering big, awkward tents and unpacking and re-packing your sleeping bag is heavenly, regardless whether or not you're a beachy type. Like for us- after stepping of a hellish bus from Maputo to Tofo, it was a joy to see a silent, peaceful beach, fringed with palm trees, and happy, tanned tourists and locals, who, to my surprise, weren't that hard on the sales side. I think they get enough tourists down there to be able to relax a bit.
We spent a few days in Tofo, not really doing much, except for whaleshark snorkelling. I was a bit iffy about it- my meagre funds were quickly evaporating, and I'd done diving/snorkelling trips before. But, in the end, a drunken south african couple convinced me, and I handed in about 35 euros of hard-earned window cleaning cash. And it was pretty cool. I'm slightly scared of water- not massively, but a bit intimidated (far more a flying/in the air -kind of person), and so I put on my mask, took a deep breath and tried to look elegant when I splashed into the sea. I really wanted to give into the panicky feeling; but as I swirled around, there it was, coming up underneath me- a huge, 17-metre whaleshark, looking at me in the eye. It was a slightly surreal moment, as all I heard was my own heart pumping, and I couldn't believe this bulky, big animal floated next to me so silently and smoothly. I swam along him for a bit, close enough to touch, and he didn't seem to mind me at all. Undescribable. Humpback whales, dolphins and more whalesharks. I was a happy girl.
We spent a few more days in Tofo, wandering into the little town, taking pictures of local life, and going out dancing with other backpackers in surprisingly energetic and lively little nightclubs. Fred came along too, and being a popular chap, got bitten by a man in a nightclub. Yes, really. He's receiving intensive care, and we hope to restore him soon.
But, alas, as many nice people as we'd met, it was time to move on. We had a vague idea of heading towards the Bazaruto and Vilankulo (Vilanculo? Vilankulos? Who knows!) and staying settled there for a few days. Our short journey (short in the terms of distance travelled...only) started with a walk into town; waiting for a little minibus; bussing it into Inhambane; walking through Inhambane; boarding a rickety little fishing boat across the bay to Maxixe; waiting in a generic coffee shop, eating eggs, eggs and more eggs (and a bit of Rich's dish as well, probably). Then waiting at the side of the road for the big bus which was late, or coming to the other side of town, or coming there but not till later. People sometime gather around me, thinking I, as a foreigner, might know. I don't know! I'm just standing at the side of the road, hoping that eventually a useful mode of transport will arrive! We got on the big bus, but they didn't have a fare for this particular stretch from Maxixe to Vilankulos- so they guestimated, and we paid quite a bit, but got a luxury bus- the first bus either of us had gone on in Africa that wasn't packed full. It was, in fact, surprisingly empty. They left us at a dusty road junction with not much else but a few run-down market stalls, all covered in a shreds of plastic, with a few curious kids and sad-looking goats. We got a lift at the back of a very windy truck down to the town centre of Vilankulo, me holding on to my hair, earrings and bags.
Five different types of transport later, and yet hardly any physical distance, we'd finally arrived to Vilankulo, our nothern-most destination on the trip. And I was convinced I was going to like it.