The journey north was much like those we had done previously with varying road conditions through predominantly lowland plantation forest and agricultural land dotted with giant mango and cashew trees. The highway/dirt track flanked either side by endless arrays of mud-brick and grass hut villages, small agricultural plots and people seemingly wandering about aimlessly in the middle of nowhere. The further north we journeyed, the fewer towns we came across. Those we did we did consisted merely of a couple of derelict concrete buildings and a more dense scattering of village housing. Surprised by the lack of "genuine" towns it became increasingly worrying when we did not pass a single petrol station in several hundred kilometres and with our fuel running low we were just hoping that we'd make it to the town of Caia.Caia sits on the bank of the famous Zambezi River and is the crossing point into the untamed and less-explored "North" of Mozambique. For most travellers, the Zambezi is as far as they will venture, far less developed and less densely populated than the South, although for travellers more challenging and often more rewarding. Throughout history the Zambezi had been a major hurdle in crossing to the North, especially in the wet season (as it was now). The ferry was small, and its operation dependent on the water levels - too low and it didn't have the clearance, too much flow and the barge could be swept away or sunk, just like a few years previously when dozens drowned or were eaten by crocodiles. The guidebooks also spoke of a bridge being built to span the river, it was originally due for completion in late 2006 that would surely open up the North but with no reliable information about the bridge we were arriving under the assumption it remained incomplete.Relieved we arrived in Caia with the petrol light having been on for 70km or more and we were unsure of how much further we could have travelled. As we approached the fuel station on the edge of town, we realised immediately that we were not yet out of trouble as although close to completion, the fuel station was not yet operational. We were worried the car would run out of fuel any moment leaving us stranded and so we approached some locals for directions to the closest fuel station. We were shocked and concerned when they motioned to the next major city 100 or more kilometres away. We pursued the men for an alternative in our pseudo-Portuguese, and eventually they gestured us towards the "port" on the edge of the Zambezi, only a couple of kilometres away. At worst, if we ran out of fuel on the way, we could walk the remaining distance. At this point in time we were unsure what side of the river the port was on, we didn't know if the bridge was complete but we were fairly sure the barge had stopped running for the day. We drove to the port along a slightly elevated dirt road, surrounded by lowlands flooded by the swollen Zambezi but on arrival we found little infrastructure but for a few temporarily erected grass lean-to's soon to be consumed by the floodwaters. The bridge was far from complete and consisted merely of a few completed pylons and perhaps a 10th of the bridge itself. There was a long way to go and it was blairingly obvious that a forecast completion in 2006 was an extreme example of optimism perhaps bordering on incompetence. At the current rate it would not be ready for decades, and although being constructed by a Scandinavian contractor (and funded internationally) I wondered at the time whether it would ever be completed.There were hordes of people gathered at the port and they began trying to sell us anything and everything……….but fuel. We asked around for petrol, and group of guys intent on selling us diesel gathered around. There was a definite communication barrier as we tried to explain what we wanted. We had not encountered this problem as service stations previously, the pumps had always been clearly marked and the attendants usually had some grasp of English. The gathering masses were as confused as us, and when we finally got it through to them that we were not after diesel, they began to offer us "super". Coming from Australia where leaded petrol was traditionally referred to as "super" we again turned down their offer which confused them even more. It was some time before we came to the conclusion that perhaps "super" was in fact unleaded, but we were not entirely convinced and when the guys offered us a purchase price well above the going rate, we cut our losses and headed back towards Caia where we had spotted some other men sitting beside some old fuel drums. We pulled over and got a similar spiel about diesel and super, and more confident that we were in fact getting unleaded when presented with "super", we negotiated a price as one of the guys rode off on a pushbike with our jerry can to fetch some fuel. We waited on the side of the road as darkness approached and hoped he would return. 20 minutes passed before he appeared, but the can was empty and apparently his source was dry. We had run out of options, it was almost dark and so we crossed our fingers, hoped for the best and headed for the campsite. We were surely running on fumes by now, and the campsite situated on a lonely boggy track a couple of kilometres out of town did not fill us with confidence. We arrived at the campsite in 1 piece and after the long day on the road we were extremely grateful, although we still had the small issue of fuel to sort out. The campsite was small, damp and dingy and the few concrete rooms were run down. Had we not had bigger concerns we would have surely been unimpressed. Its one saving grace were a couple of friendly workers, an older guy who seemed to be some sort of groundskeeper and a high-school student who looked after reception and could manage a small splattering of English.At this point we figured we may be stuck in Caia for a day or 2 whilst we sourced fueland after setting up camp we began to explain our issue with the 2 guys. We figured that perhaps they could help us and if not, surely they would know someone who could. Between our Portuguese, their English and plenty of hand gestures we began to get our point across. We made our way to the campsite generator and after examining the petrol we finally realised we were on the same page. We asked if they could get us some fuel, they obviously needed it to fire their generator, and eventually we agreed to pay one of the men to fetch some for us. It was pitch black by now, but the man enthusiastically appeared with his bicycle and then strapped the 2 steel jerry cans to the back of his bike. We were unsure how exactly he was going to ride along the boggy track with no light, let alone with two fully loaded cans weighing more than 40kgs, but he seemed unphased. We handed him the money for fuel, most likely more cash than he had ever held in his hand, and asked him how much he wanted for his services. He discussed it with his friend, visibly sheepish about asking for too much money, and then replied that he would do it for 30 Meticais ($1.50). Aware of the task ahead of him, we presented him with a little more money, and although a little baffled by our offer, he hopped on his bike and disappeared into the darkness -the only thing visible being his large grin and bright white teeth.2 or 3 hours later and our man returned, he had ridden for kilometres but had come back empty handed, unable to obtain any fuel so late in the evening. He motioned that he would try again in the morning, not expecting to be paid for his failed attempt first time round, but we were aware of his effort and the fact he was doing us a big favour and so offered him some food and beer and agreed to pay him anyway. The guys seemed appreciative of our gesture, and were extremely hospitable for the rest of the evening, teaching us Portuguese and even switching their radio to English for us (I don't think they realised it was an boring educational channel discussing tectonic plate movements or something equally as dull).By the time we woke in the morning, our friend was long gone on his quest to find us fuel, and whilst we waited for him to return we tucked into brekky and packed up camp. A couple of hours passed and the day was heating up. Karen and I went for a short walk to explore the surrounding villages, and played with the inquisitive kids who were obviously concerned about getting to close to the white people, as each time we got too close they would run away screaming. Too hot in the open, we returned to the shade of the camp.By now we were becoming increasingly concerned about the whereabouts of our friend, he had left around 6am and it was now close to 10am, surely he hadn't done a runner with our money. We spoke to our young friend who too seemed concerned and baffled by his mates whereabouts and soon after took off on his own bike in search of him.Not long after, our young friend reappeared with one of the jerry cans, and explained to us that his elder friend had had "bike trouble" before he disappeared again and returned soon after with the second 20L of fuel. Whilst we filled the car and prepared to leave, our groundskeeper friend appeared pushing his bike and visibly exhausted by the experience - who knows how long he had wheeled his broken bicycle for loaded with our 40kgs of fuel. We felt so sorry for him, by now the temperature had risen to mid 30's, it was extremely muggy and it had to have been a 10km round journey on sandy, boggy and rutted tracks. We offered him a cold drink, and paid him his money, bringing an instant smile to his face and then we were back on our way.