Our journey to the border town of Chiponde begins after breakfast on the riverside with a view of the hippos. We bid farewell to Pilar, and take bike taxis to the bus depot. E's driver struggles up the hill under the weight of E plus backpack, C passes by in fits of giggles. E's driver receives much encouragement from roadside folks. We find a minivan and get the front seats. At the town before the border we switch to a car which brings us to the border. Through immigration, we change our Malawi Kwatcha for Mozambiqian Meticals and take bike taxis the 1.5km to the Mozambiqian immigration. We wait for 30 minutes before the man in charge of visas arrives, and we have our photos taken on an icam and the digital image printed onto a Mozambique visa. This costs us 80 USD each. The bike taxis carry us on to the town on the Mozambique side. The drivers try and raise the price that we have agreed on which really tests our patience.
In the town we find a pickup truck going to the town of Cuamba, from where we hope to take the early morning train straight to Nampula. We have board the pickup at 15:30, but it does not leave town until 6pm! In the mean time it drives up and down and around town on various other errands, and to have a headlight fixed. Some of the other passengers run out of patience and abort their journey. We meet James, a local who is planning to also take the morning train to Nampula. He is a wealth of information and we greatfully tap him for as much as we can. Setting off after dark, the road is extremely bumpy and dusty, and we hunker down on the back of the truck shielding ourselves from the wind. We stop several times for maintenance of the headlight. At 11:30pm we reach Cuamba, and we are helped to find accommodation by James and the pickup driver. James advises us to get to the train station at about 3am, to ensure getting second class tickets with sleeper for the train that departs about 5am. The guesthouse we stay in is just 5 minutes walk away. It is cheap and has the worst toilet in Africa. We sleep for 3 hours, and then with the aid of the night watchman at the guesthouse make our way to the back of the station, crossing train tracks as we go. At the station we purchase our tickets – we have to pay a few dollars more to secure the last tickets, and then we are aboard. We sleep as we pull out at 5am.
The journey is great, with amazing views of huge smooth rocky outcrops that litter the land. In our compartment there are 4 other passengers, from different African countries and we have a very pleasant chat. We are offered our first Mozambiqian beer! We arrive in Nampula at 4:30pm and make our way out of the station, through the crowds and into a very newly built city. Our lodgings are at the Residencial Farhana. Nearby are ATMs and a bar/restaurant where we order Chicken, chips and salad. The Chicken already comes with chips, rice and salad, so we realise we have ordered 2 extra plates of chips and 2 extra plates of salad. There is hardly enough room on the table. Nevertheless, we are famished and the chicken meal is one of the best we have had in Africa.