THE BULLDOG REPORT
In true bulldog tradition our vehicle remains reliable, firm on the ground and ready to rise to any occasion. At this stage of the trip the bulldog has been gobbling up the kilometers without blinking an eyelid, be it on a smooth tar road or some ridiculous gravel patch that needs to be approached with caution.
It is an absolute pleasure to wake up in the morning to see the bulldog wagging its tail awaiting its next set of orders from its masters.
We remain indebted to some clever group of Japanese who invented the ultimate African safari vehicle with capabilities beyond belief.
Challenges along the way remain the potholes and the scores of people that inhabit the the roads. Both these obstacles require a great deal of concentration and driving skill in order to prevent a catastrophe. A couple of incidents come to mind:
The bulldog was unable to avoid a crater in the road near Gorongosa and after disappearing below ground level it emerged out from the other side striking the sharp rim of the tar with one almighty thud. The result inside the car was chaos…..garmin flying in one direction, cameras in another direction, sweets/ sunglasses/ water bottles/walkie talkies/map books/mp3 player/tissues/lappies/specs/etc., etc., flying around the car like shrapnel from a grenade. The wonder of it all was that the front tyres remained intact after absorbing the full force of the impact….thanks to the Goodrich Mud Terrain shoes that the bulldog enjoys wearing.
Dodging children playing in the road, vendors presenting their wares (chili sauce/charcoal bags/nuts/bananas/baskets/cooking oil/carvings, etc) literally throwing themselves in front of the vehicle, cars stopping dead in front of you to off load passengers, broken down vehicles, bicycle riders, motorbike riders, dogs, goats, chickens, donkeys, etc., etc., etc., all present themselves within the immediate width of the road as if there were no verges at all. It is quire clear that a vehicle does not have right of way and the road belongs to others.
A bridge seems to be one of the biggest state secrets in Mozambique. A grumpy official refused to let us carry on until we had deleted our photos of his beloved bridge over the Savo river.
Little did we know before the trip that the bulldog would make a good candidate for a Red Bull advert. It became airborne after ramping up a sudden rise in the road and continued on its front wheels for a period of time after which the bulldog carefully placed his rear legs softly on the ground.
After much discussion we have decided that the bulldog must be a hemaphrodite because he/she is capable of behaving in both an attitude of raw aggression as well as being warm, receptive and caring she also loves to stay behind Lipstick for most of the time.
Our day consists of two hourly shifts at the wheel and this has proved to be a good principal. We have noticed that as the days go by we are getting tired if we go beyond this time span. This is probably a result of having very few rest days in between, heavy concentration behind the wheel and a couple of great evenings around the fire.
The stayovers are very different and every day we approach our new destination with great anticipation of what the camp facilities are going to offer us. In Bethlehem and Xai Xai we stayed in B&B’s and after that the camping began. Badplaas was as pleasant as ever and everyone had great pleasure in setting up all the gadgets that had purchased from Outdoor Warehouse over the lat two years for the first time……only to spend a huge amount of time in the morning packing them all away again. As we have proceeded on our nomadic trip the words “lean & mean” and “simple is better” have become our creed.
Maintaining a balanced diet has been reasonably easy with mealies, sweet potato, butternut being the order of the day. Add to this Jeannies’ special jungle mix that we munch in the car, keeps us fit healthy and regular. Buying fresh bread rolls (pao) from the locals remains a treat, especially for munching with cheese in the car.
Beira was an interesting stopover where we stayed right on the beach next to a great restaurant without the need to do any cooking.
Quelemaine was equally interesting where we stayed in a deserted hotel. We set up our tents in the middle of the dance floor. Unfortunately the mosquitoes gobbled us up and there was no water in the ablutions.
As we travel north it becomes warmer and landscapes change from region to region. From the flat landscapes of southern moz to the funny shaped mountains of Nampula we now find ourselves in the land of upside down trees in Pemba.
The bulldog report on the three day stay over at Situ Island Report will follow soon.