Mozambique is not a usual travel destination. Five years after a 17-year civil war, Mozambique continues to be one of the most beautiful, and
The true Mozambique only begins to show itself to us after a 1,500-kilometer flight north from Maputo (the country's capital in the south) to Nampula. The best way to reach the Ilha is by a two-hour car trip east on a bumpy unmaintained road past vast plantations of cashew and banana trees. The road winds past huge rock monoliths that evoke a sense of pre-history - it seems that, at any moment, a dinosaur will appear around the next curve! As the road approaches the coast, coconut and
Arriving on the Ilha, via a long narrow bridge, one steps into a place that time forgot. The southern part of the island is called Mecuti Town (mecuti is the palm leaf that is used for the roofs of the simple mud walled huts). The streets here are lined with people selling used clothes, oranges, peanuts and other local necessities. One enterprising plumber has even hung taps,
Upon entering the Cement Town, the whole history of the island begins to appear. Large buildings in different states of decay line every street. The mixture of Portuguese, Arabic and Asian architecture is fascinating: Old doorways barely hanging upon their hinges; the sun bleached weathered windows with wrinkled cracked wood that matches the expression of the old fishers sitting nearby. The streets are shady and your eyes are drawn down narrow alleyways to catch a glimpse of another
There is an old Portuguese fort on the northern tip of the island, built in the 1500's. It is a maze of rooms and passages. Cannons and cannonballs are strewn about on the upper perimeter of the walls, some still pointing defensively offshore. Large
A place to sleep for the night is easy to find here from talking with a few people in the market, as people are more than eager to make a little extra cash. The room costs roughly $10 Cdn. Helping out with the groceries adds a little bit of variety to meals, and everyone benefits. Fish is plentiful - in the afternoon fishers come in with their daily catch, including groupers that can weigh more than 50 kilograms. We left for the mainland, having "lived" the history of this fascinating country.