Across Africa on 4 wheels | Part 4

HELLO | HALLO | BWANJI | MONI | OLA

There is something extremely exciting about hitting the road with a group of friends with so much to see and experience ahead of you. Out on the open road we would stop every 500m to take another picture, but there comes a point in your trip where you have been in the car for a billion hours and you start to go a little crazy. We were in the car for 13 hours the first day. We were in the car for 10 hours the second day and we were in the car for 8 hours the third day and it goes on and on. Eventually by day 18, driving became stupid, cars became stupid, getting petrol was stupid, but mooning teams as they drove past wasn’t stupid. The days were long, we didn’t get enough sleep, we were hot, we were bored and we had listened to every song on our playlist at least 10 times. In an attempt to try liven ourselves up we found the weirdest gangsta in-your-face, crude, lowbrow rap music about baking soda and fat asses. It wasn’t our first choice of music but it still got the car dance going and it really suited our 100 colour neon radio that changed colour with the beat. We listened to the lyrics and burst out with laughter as the singer (if that’s what you call it) said something like “Do I ever come up in discussion, over double-pump lattes and low-fat muffins?”  After we had drained all of the gangsta out of our bodies we then started to listen to an audio book about the string theory. After hours of trying to understand what the guy was talking about we gave up and went back to “Do I ever come up in discussion, over double-pump yo, yo, yo!”

We entered Mozambique and for the first time we felt as if we were somewhere distant. We couldn’t read or understand the language which really made us feel like outsiders. I am an African, I felt reasonably comfortable travelling through all of the other African countries, but there was something different about Mozambique, possibly the Portuguese influence?

We traveled through Mozambique and stayed over somewhere near Tete for the night and met up with a couple of the other teams who had the same idea as us. Team ‘Happy Feet’ (The all girls team) had some car trouble where their battery wasn’t being charged while they drove so we offered to follow them and swap batteries if necessary. We had also heard of some dodgy guys with guns demanding money at the bridge, so a couple of kilometres before the bridge we stopped on the side of the road and waited for more teams to catch up so that we could drive over the bridge in convoy. Just before the bridge we took all our money out of our wallets and got our gopro ready to film some expected excitement and hopefully make some bucks on youtube. It turned out they were just the bridge security that liked to show off their big guns in their scary camo uniforms.

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Once we arrived in Vilanculos, which is a super chilled backpacker friendly town along the beautiful stretch of white beaches, we went straight to the bar and ordered some it their famous R&R’s (Rum and Raspberry). The sea in Mozambique had such an eerie illusion of emptiness. When we got there it was low tide and the beach stretched out for kilometers with a slight shimmer of water on the horizon. Scattered on the large open beach were boats lying on what was the ocean floor a couple of hours ago. We headed down and walked along the beach on the cold damp sand and followed the tide line created by half crushed seashells and sea weed that lined the beach. Later that evening I looked out into the endless night sky that rolled over the beach and there it was, the most whimsical full moon floating above the sea. The moonlight illuminated the ocean of blackness and the sea glistened, mirroring the dazzling image of the white moon. The faint wind brushed against the waters’ surface and created ripples that shattered the reflection.

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We had planned to have dinner in the town that night and tuk tuks have to be the ultimate way of getting around Mozambique. We ordered 5 tuk tuks and all jumped into them not realizing how epic that ride was going to be. It all started as the 5 tuk tuks that were parked in a straight line released their hand brakes and rolled backwards at the same time creating the sound of hitting two tin cans together. Once we got onto the dirt road it was the start of a tuk tuk drag race (which I don’t think we signed up for). The driver put his foot on the accelerator and the back wheels kicked up some dirt while we just held on tightly to our beer. We drove as fast as we could along the bumpy dirt road that rattled every piece of the tuk tuk. We ramped over stones and fell in potholes and over took other tuk tuks that got stuck in the beach sand. We went ‘pew pew’ passed each other and grabbed onto the tuk tuks that drove next to us to prevent them from overtaking us as we came up to our stop off point. Once we got off, our stomachs hurt from laughing so much and we couldn’t wait for our trip back. We all had supper and ran back to the tuk tuks to try and get a head start.

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The next morning we were woken by people calling “Come see the sunrise over the sea” I crawled out of my tent, walked down to the sea as I wiped away the sleep from my eyes. Once I got to the sea I gazed across the endless sands as the sun was beginning to rise. Waves gently lapped against the shoreline smoothing out the rough sand. The air was still and there was not a cloud in the sky as the fiery orb gradually appeared out of the water that left a glowing yellow trail as it reflected into the still water below. The orange and yellow from the sun slowly engulfed the dark sky until the sky was nothing but an orange glow. The boys, who immediately turned into silhouettes, ran across the beach and jumped into the glowing water for their morning swim, I was still mesmerized by the stunning sunrise.

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Everyone had packed up early and left to get to our final checkpoint in Inhambane. We were one of the last teams to leave as we had lost a teammate from the party night before and had to wait for him to return. Eventually we hit the road for our final day of travelling in the Put Foot rally. We drove along the coastline and passed through beautiful changing landscapes of seas of palm trees and flat plains of baobab trees. We had to get to Inhambane before 1pm to get to our camp before the tide came in and covered the only road to the camp. At about 12:40 we got about 500m from our camp but saw a sign that said “Cold Draught beer”. Team ‘Muskabeers’, who were in front of us, slammed on brakes and said to us “It just makes sense” so we both did a U-turn and headed to get a beer where we met team ‘Braai-Boy’ who had the same idea as us. We enjoyed a quick beer on the beach and then headed to our final destination. The tide had not yet come in and the road towards the camp was an untouched piece of ocean floor with a couple of tyre tracks across it. Well that was before we came along and got excited by the large expanse of ocean floor that had been exposed to the sunlight. The large, white sandy ground played host to a bunch of guys who thought that they were in a stunt movie as about 3 cars and 2 guys on bikes drove around in figure of eights and did donuts in the sand, while everyone else hung out the windows and blasted music ready for our grand entrance at the final check point.

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We drove along the beach towards the finish line where everyone was waiting to welcome us, we felt like movie stars as we drove through a tunnel of flags and people cheered and waved as we came in. Immediately as we parked our car at the end of the line of Put Foot cars we were handed a beer ready for the ultimate Final Checkpoint party. We then stood on the beach and cheered as more Put Foot cars came in and made them feel like they were the movie stars. It was really amazing to see every car that just took part in this amazing road trip. Every car from 4×4 Toyotas and Land Rovers, to Ford Fiesta, VW vans and even the old Delorian had made it across Africa. We all made it that far but we almost didn’t make it home because we had all parked on what was the beach at the time of arrival but the sneaky sea crawled in quietly and turned that beach into the ocean. One by one each team drove up the steep sand bank and parked their car safely at the campsite. Some of the not so powerful cars had to get a push, a tow or a whole army of people behind it to push it up. Once all the cars were away from the ocean’s harm we transformed into the Pirates of Mozambique for our final checkpoint party. The amount of dancing and bouncing around on the beach was incredible; I’m surprised there was still sand in that spot on the beach which we had made into our dance floor for the night. With way too many R&R’s consumed, the night went by as fast as the tide came in and before we knew it, we were walking back to our campsite along the beach as the sky turned from black to mauve as the sun started to wake up. And that was that, as we closed our eyes the Put Foot rally was over and the next day was all about good byes.

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Any trip, adventure, journey ends like a movie. The curtain drops and then you are home, shut off. But this was different to any trip I’ve ever taken. Doing this trip as part of the Put Foot Rally family (which we became) was truly incredible because in the 9034km we had driven, there wasn’t a moment when I felt I didn’t belong, there wasn’t a day where I didn’t wake up excited for the adventure ahead, I never felt alone and there was never a dull moment. We would split up during the day but reunite to watch the golden light at the end of the day. The Put Foot Rally was a pretty remarkable journey and leaves me thinking about what we can do next that will top that. I am not sure we can beat “the ultimate pub crawl through Africa” experience for some time, I have certainly got the travelling bug and I have a serious case of itchy feet.

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