"It's not much but it's ours"

Monday, April 14, 2008


Well, HP complained that my last post was scant in the food department. A serious complaint when it comes to matters DH.

He was right, of course, but there was a reason or, reasons. Primarily, it was about the wine, not the food (the hint was in the title) and, secondly, was the fact that the food in South Africa was, brai apart, a bit blah. Not actively bad, just nothing actively worth writing about.

Here’s hoping this makes up for it and HP resumes his rightful pride in my every utterance. He loves me so no one else has to.

Mozambique is as far from South Africa as you can imagine. The moment we stepped off the plane from Cape Town to be faced with the crumbling façade of Maputo’s decaying streets, we knew we had gone from first to third quicker than Leeds United.

Truth be told, there is little to charm about the ugly capital city. A tour of the sights of significance took all of an hour including the main market and the fish market where, if we had not made other plans, we could have purchased some of those enormo prawns for which the country is famous and had them prepared at adjacent stalls.

Instead, we set our sights on Costa Do Sol, Maputo’s most famous restaurant and an African institution. Set on the edges of the glistening India Ocean, this Art Deco eatery has been supplying the well fed of Mozambique with achingly fresh shellfish for over seventy years. We were soon seated on the terrace with the first of many local beers and deciding between small, medium, large or fuck off, prawns while chewing on some grilled squid and spicy Portuguese sausage.

Neal, unfortunately, was not a well man, the result of a dodgy meal following our late arrival the night before. So, when his plate of a dozen medium prawns arrived at the same time as mine, he went distinctly green. He battled on, but soon had to give in leaving half a plate of the local delicacy for me to gorge down with my own dozen. Sympathy only goes so far when seafood is concerned

Spectacularly fresh and meaty, they were served well by a chilled bottle of Portuguese wine.

Leaving Maputo was not a great hardship, particularly when our next stop was Guludo Lodge on the Quirimbas Archipelago. A relatively new lodge run entirely on Eco principles the lodge supports the local villages, employs over fifty locals and makes little impact on the local environment.

Our tented banda was lit with paraffin lamps with the only power source coming from a generator in the main office where we had to send anything that needed charging. Not that we could get a signal when our phones were working anyway.

A more idyllic spot you could not find and all the more appreciated after the four-hour drive to get there, a welcoming drink and our first meal under the clear, starry skies. A perfect romantic spot, had I not been there with a bearded man from Lincoln. Neal offered to spoon, but it wasn’t quite the same falling asleep next to someone whose snoring drowned out the sound of the ocean some twenty feet away.

The fact that the food, prepared by frighteningly young ex-pat, Emma, was good too was an added bonus, particularly when everything, bar the fish and seafood supplied by local fishermen, had to be brought up from Pemba.

There was little to do all day but laze in a hammock, indulge in a bit of snorkelling, help local fishermen haul in their nets and play with the kids in Guludo village. All good relaxing fun.

Add that to the unfailingly charming service from everyone else at the lodge and Guludo was as pleasant a place to spend three days as I have had on the whole trip so far.

I would love to say that, on our return for a final night in Maputo, we headed out to chow down on some piri piri chicken or seafood. But, thanks to the joys of LAM, the flying gulag that is Mozambique’s national airline, we suffered a five hour delay and arrived at our hotel just in time for a cheese toasted sandwich just before the bar closed. Eat My Globe indeed.

Next stop, Jo’burg for one night and then on to Senegal.

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