We had another long day of traveling ahead, although it’s always a guess what will happen, when you start such a day. There were no buses going from Inhassoro to Beira so we had to get to the main road, some 10 kilometers out of town, and wait there for the buses passing from Inhambane or Maputo.
The locals we asked told us buses stop by, generally, between 9 and 10. We arrived before 8:30am and there were already people waiting. At 11:30, a mulatto with a bakkie stopped by to ask if we needed a lift. We hopped on and drove to Inchopi, from were we took a chicken bus to Beira. In those three hours we had been waiting, maybe 16 cars had passed, and no buses.
The man, Mongoo, had to drive on to Nampula, more then 1000 kilometers further and he had heard the ferry across the Zambezi had broken down some days previously.
The Zimbabweans built the road from the Zimbabwean border to Chimoio, some 30 kilometers from Inchopi. The Italians built the road from Chimoio to Beira. And it’s bad. Think war-torn Bosnia, then quadruple that.
We stayed at Pensao Messe, what, according to the ’98 Bradt we were traveling on, was the backpackers’ favorite spot in Beira. It might have been in 1998, but I’m sure it is no longer. The beds were like holes (although the sheets were clean) and there was no running water, at all. Sure, there had been plumbing, once, but you now had to flush the toilet, and bath and, I suppose, brush your teeth with murky water from a big vat in the water-covered bathroom.
Then, the downstairs bar played crappy 80s music so until after 4 in the morning, I could hear classics like Tarzan boy, All night Long and Life is life. Then, after the music stopped, but not before having turned up the base, people started screaming at each other while, I suppose, trying to find their room. And when things started to quiet down, shortly before five, almost immediately, the first ‘guests’ were starting to get up again, shouting at each other from one end of the pensao to the other.
The next night, we splurged and stayed at the nearby hotel Mozambique from where, on the 12th floor, we had a very decent view on the bay.
Both nights we stayed in Beira, we had dinner at Papa’s, a new and very nice restaurant close to the hotel Mozambique. The bartender, Santos, easily summed up the difference between Beira, the second biggest city in Mozambique, and Maputo: “Maputo’s sharp, Beira’s soft”. Needless to say, he preferred the latter.