This is the extraordinary colour of the Indian ocean at Vilanculos… doesn’t it make you want to plunge in right now?
Going to Vilanculos, Inhambane province, was my escapade #4 out of Chimoio. 0300 bus departure and by 0900 at destination, lodging with fellow volunteer in a thatched house overlooking that blue blue (never mind the ant invasions and the scuttling of other many legged creatures)…. To sleep to the sound of waves each night, with a sea breeze, and see that view every morning is my idea of heaven.
Finally I got to use the snorkel mask that had collected dust since my arrival in Maputo. With a dozen other people I made a day trip on a partly motorised dhow sail boat to Magaruque island, the nearest to the mainland in the pristine Bazaruto Archipelago.
The snorkeling was at a rock barrier, with some corals, that stretches down the west side of the island… not perfect visibility but good enough to see the big turquoise and pink parrot fish, the prickly ‘puffer humbugs’, the zillions of little yellow and back striped ‘tiger’ fish, the shoals of transparent ‘window’ fish hovering there (all my silly nomenclature) …and dozens of others… fabulous.
After working up an appetite we then gorged on fresh crab and barracuda that the crew had cooked up on the charcoal in the boat kitchen….
I spent time walking around the beaches in Vilankulos, including to the fancy lodge area, where the Mozambicans serve and clean the beach for the (usually South African) ‘white man’ who can be seen loafing about drinking beer at 10 am.
I learned later that the frequent helicopters passing overhead were not for security, but for taking ‘top end people’ to their exclusive beach resorts on other islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago. This way they don’t have to mix with the riff raff in Vilankulos town.
There are a few more basic places to stay for other mortals, with dorms and camping areas, but such is not the case on the islands that belong to a national park. These resorts have to operate to strict rules including not being able to dispose of any trash except by its physical removal from the islands.
But Vilankulos belongs to the people, who flock down to hang out near their favourite beach side bars on Sundays before sunset. It’s also a great football ground, always with a fresh breeze blowing.
The worst part was having to leave, having to get back to Chimoio on public transport on a public holiday. It took 11 hours (twice as long as coming down) because the chapas stop all the time to load, unload, drop and pick up people…. But I had a book and sighed deeply, repeating to myself the word ‘paciencia’ – a virtue one cannot help but develop here.