I love traveling and I love the phenomenal variations of cultures I am introduced to quite regularly.  Lao Tzu writes:  ” A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”  So I reckon the journey of a 1000 miles must start with a small step.

I love traveling early in the morning and as we set off into a lazy sunrise the vehicle is packed to capacity.  Armed with our modern day Paul (Pastor Ricardo), a man that speaks 13 languages (Joao Benjamim) and a Women activist (my wife) and of course the driver …. me!  The GPS is quite kind to me so early in the morning telling me that my nearly 700 km’s will be over in a few hours.  Traveling in Mozambique is a full day affair.  There is the sunrise, the early Mozambicans traveling on the road at an unholy hour, the goats eagerly crossing the road several times to just find out the grass was greener on their side of the road.  There is a few unwritten rules that never change on the road though.  If you travel with a lady passenger you are in for a long ride.  Stopping quite frequently when nature calls is just part of the travel guide.  You have to find a suitable tree or bush or shrub … or anything that will completely hide your female companion.  And it’s a hygiene thing …. not like male passengers.  It’s quick, clean and precise.

And this is how our long journey to the Zambezi starts off.  Breakfast on the road.  Coffee boiled with fresh water carried in a 20l container.  There is baked muffins, sausage and boiled eggs.  The smell of a boiled egg is not really from this world but who cares – everyone is hungry and the road is still long.  By the way may passengers are eating I quietly realize that they know me too well.  I hardly stop!  

The objective of the journey (although I don’t like objectives while traveling), my wife keeps on reminding me – is to reach the town of Mutarara on the banks of the mighty Zambezi river.  At last … we are on our way.  The tar road should have never been called a road.  It’s a maize of holes and although I try to miss one I constantly fell into another.  I nervously kept looking at my wife … well … as women do … she kept rolling her eyes.  Not a word …. just the rolling of the eyes.  And that says more than words.  It kind of questions your man-ego.  You really want to prove to your wife that you are in total control (which we rarely are)!  I mean … “I can drive well, can’t I?”  She still doesn’t answer.

Meanwhile in the backseat of my double cab Pastor Ricardo (in his 60’s) is wide awake.  He fiddles with his cellphone and as I watch him carefully in my mirror I can see him smiling.  He has a plan up his sleeve.  When you travel with passengers …. the journey is about to get very interesting.  By default passengers can never be trusted I know after traveling many 1 000’s of kilometers with them.  After about 7 hours on the road rushing to catch the ferry crossing the Shire river I get a loud voice from behind.  “Stop – we are receiving visitors!”  “What?  Here?  In the middle of nowhere?”  It was Ricardo speaking and I realize he caught me unaware again.  Our journey is going to be very very long today.  Alta is visiting many women schools and will be presenting seminars for the nearly 3 000 women in the north teaching literacy and motivating them.  And sure enough in the small town of Caia on the Zambezi river …. there they are …. waiting.

We arrived in Caia at midday.  The ladies were waiting for us since the morning.  Happy to see Alta and ….. 
When women come together there has to be a word of encouragement … or at least a lesson.  Without knowing about the gathering (as our great pastor and friend Ricardo loves surprises) Alta quickly had to get a message together …. and preach.
And then there is the gift that has to be left behind.  We luckily had additional black boards available for the WOMEN LITERACY SCHOOL.

Turning off to catch the ferry left us on this road which we had to travel on for about 80 kilometres.  My guide, (yes … it’s that man Pastor Ricardo again) assured me this was the shortest route to the Shire river!  Well …. well … well.  It might have been shorter but it took us many hours to drive on it …. and it was a interesting adventure.

Then …. suddenly in the middle of nowhere we found this grader (without its tractor) and 2 gentleman who was extremely kind and proud of the road they opened for us.  I thanked them …. and wondered how the road would look without them using this antique.

Will I reach the Shire river on time …. or will I have to sleep on the banks of the Shire river??  I have heard through local folk that the mosquitoes are so big they are being confused with being grasshoppers on the Shire river.  Follow us as we reach the Shire river.