Tofo - Christmas at the Beach (23rd - 28th Dec)
As we left the camp site, we hadn't heard from Alex the day before, as there was no phone reception, so didn't really know when he would arrive in Xai-Xai. Not long after we left the beach for the 10km drive to town we hit some phone reception and the texts began coming in, with the last one saying he was in town already and was begging us to get there and pick him up. As we approached the "bus station", it wasn't hard to find the only white guy on the street and he quickly jumped in. It was fairly cramped on the back seat now, but Alex said this was luxury compared to his taxi ride from Maputo to Xai-Xai.Leaving Xai-Xai and filing up with petrol it became very clear that there was a lot of traffic heading north, the petrol attendant seemed to think they were all heading Inhambane way, so it looked like it could be busy for Christmas. The road also turned very nasty, although it had been tarred at some point many years ago, there were some serious pot holes and cars zigging and zagging everywhere to try and avoid the worst craters. The road did eventually get better and by mid afternoon we finally arrived at Bamboozi. As we drove in Dan, was standing at reception checking in as he had just arrived also.We checked into our chalet, which was rustic but still very nice, with our own private bathroom, with shower. It was then time for a beer. The bar was at the top of the sand dune and over looked the beach, which had some nice waves rolling in. We settled into the bar for a few drinks and ended up having dinner there as well. While we caught up with Dan and Alex, Kaz and Dave went off to find and alternative for Christmas lunch. The lunch on offer at Bamboozi didn't sound that appealing, gammon and ox-tail, we were looking for something with a bit more seafood, being on the beach and all. They arrived back with good news, around the point at Barra one of the lodges was doing a seafood buffet and everyone thought that sounded more like it. That night was a full moon and one of the bars down the beach does full moon parties, so the timing was good. We headed down there and the place was crowded and the music blaring. The bar overlooked the beach so the setting was great. It took awhile to get the drinks and the bar was jammed and the barmen were in no rush. It wasn't long until everyone was on the dance floor. The walk back along the beach was nice with loads of crabs scuttling along the waters edge.The next day we had booked an "Ocean Safari", which should include snorkelling with Whale Sharks. They said that they had resident whale sharks in the area and the chances of seeing them were about 90%, good odds. There were 2 trips that day and we were a bit late but that meant we were on the second boat and it would just be the 6 of us. We had to push the boat out through the surf before they could start the motors, there was quite a swell the wave were breaking over us, Susan really didn't like the fact that it could be quite rough so decided at the last minute that she didn't want to come along.As we moved out past the breakers the water and the fresh air made the hangovers go away (for that moment anyway). We were told at the briefing that would go around to the point where we would put on the snorkelling gear and then go looking for the whale sharks, however there was a radio call from another boat that they had found one already so we raced off in their direction. We got to the area and could just see people in the water, which was still a bit rough, swimming along. It looked quite strange. Our guide told us to quickly get our gear on and they positioned the boat so that the whale shark would be coming towards, and we all jumped into the water. The water was beautifully warm and the viability very good as well, then out of the blue you could see this mass coming towards you. It didn't take long to realise it was a whale shark and moved to get out of its way. They are impressive creatures and just glide effortlessly through the water. It must have been at least 8 meters in length. As it swam past we turned and swam next to it, diving down for closer looks as it was a few meters below the surface. We soon realised that although it didn't look like it was making much effort to swim it was moving at a fair pace, it also decided to dive deeper and soon it was out of sight. The boat came around and picked us all up, which was quite interesting to see everyone pulling themselves out of the water and into the boat. We were all puffing from trying to keep up with it but all said what a wonderful experience it was to see it. One of the guys on the boat had kept swimming and following the shark and indicated it was coming up to the surface again so back in the water for another look.After a bit of exercise and the rough waters everyone soon found their hangovers came back. We went off to find more whale sharks and were in the water with at least 2 others. Each time was great to swim along with it and to just admire their incredible size and grace in the water. Each time we got back into the boat everyone gradually began to feel worse and worse, a combination of sea sickness and from the drinks the night before. The boat moved on and we kept an eye out for more whale shares, turtles, dolphins or rays but we didn't find anything more. I don't think anyone (some people more that others!) was too unhappy when we started to make our way back to the beach. We raced through the surf and landed back on the beach, all enjoying the fact that we were back on solid ground but also happy with the experience of diving with such wonderful creatures. The whole roll of film was used in the underwater camera, but only time will tell if any of the photos came out.That night we decided for dinner we should cook up some of the local produce so headed to the market. It's only small but we were able to get some veggies and a lot of prawns, and other important supplies such as beer. We sat on the porch of our chalet, enjoying a couple of sundowners, as the sunset amongst the tall palm and coconut trees. We cooked a big feed of fresh prawns and called it a night, an early one for Christmas Eve.It was lucky that it was an early night because for Christmas day we had organised a horse ride, which started at 6.30am and went along the beach. It was a good time to go because it was still cool and quiet. The horse riding place was just outside the gates of Bamboozi and we met Volker, who was taking us on the ride, and got on the horses. There were also 2 others on the ride. We rode out to the beach and which was nice and peaceful. The horses had obviously done this ride many times before and knew where they would be allowed to go faster and when to walk. We left the beach and rode through the dunes to where there were small reed houses of the locals. As we went along Volker pointed out the different trees (mangos, cashews etc) and different plants the locals tended to, peanuts, cassava and told us about the local area and customs. Being Christmas day and the holiday season, he had a couple of exchanges with the locals and after some laughing told us about their Christmas custom. If some one says Bon Festa and you reply the same it is implied that you owe them some sort of gift. After telling us this he would say this to the locals and they would just groan and ignore him as they didn't want to give anything away, quite funny but strange.The lunch at Barra was to start at 12 so we had arranged a taxi for 11. It was only a half hour drive so we thought we'd book the taxi early because most likely it would arrive late. As per our expectations the taxi arrived after 11.30, but at least we didn't need to drive. The road to Bamboozi had been fairly rough in Kal but not too bad, but it was almost as if this taxi had no real suspension and it was a very rough ride. We had arranged with the taxi driver that we would call him when we were ready to go back and he seemed happy with this arrangement. When Kaz and Dave had been to check out the restaurant they said that were fully booked but if we brought our own table and chairs we could set-up on the deck for lunch. When we arrived with table and chairs they had found some plastic chairs and a table so we didn't need our own in the end. We started lunch with a couple of bottles of 'champagne', and then got stuck into the buffet lunch. There was quite a range of food, soup, salads, gammon and ox-tale (which we all thought was quite nice after all), fish, calamari, prawns, mussels, crab so we all had our fill, and even polished it off with some Christmas cake. A very nice lunch, with a lot of food. The beach was looking very inviting so after waiting for the food to settle decided to go for a swim, which was very pleasant and we stayed in for quite some time. Susan even managed to make her way out into the waves, which was a bit of a first for her. After a couple of hours in the water we headed back to the bar for another drink and to call our taxi, Dave gotoff the phone to the taxi driver and said that he would be there in 10 minutes, so we ordered another beer because we knew that 10 minutes would be at least another half hour. As it turned out it was longer than a half hour, so we kept ordering the drinks and Dave tried numerous times to call the taxi driver, without success. I think most of us thought he would arrive because we hadn't paid for first part of the trip so thought he would be back for the money. After awhile it became obvious that he wasn't coming and we would have to make other arrangements. There was talk of walking back around the point, but that would be a couple of hours and we had a table and chairs with us and it was dark by now. We talked to the owner of the bar and he said he would try and make some arrangements for us, and reminded us that it was Christmas so wasn't sure if he could find anything. Eventually he found someone with a bakkie/ute that would take us back to Bamboozi, so we all climbed in, with the table and chairs and headed off. None of us were really looking forward to the trip back after the rough ride we had getting there, but this car was fairly new and it felt like a smooth ride. The moon was rising and there were a lot of locals on the streets and in the small shops celebrating Christmas, it was an entertaining ride home to say the least…Back at Bamboozi, we headed to the bar for a couple more drinks before hitting the moonlit beach with the glow in the dark frisby. It was a bit too much work in the soft sand and none of the throws were going where they were meant so it wasn't long until we called it a night.The next day was a fairly chilled out day, swims on the beach, lunch in town, tried the internet but was way too slow and hot for that. We did go for a drive to the next beach along, Tofino to check out the local surf spots. There were a few surfers there making the most of the waves and we sat and watched them for awhile and took a couple of pictures. A few drinks and a couple of games of Uno in the late afternoon. It was pizza night in the bar so we all headed up there, it was busy but they kept the pizza's coming and we all quickly ate too much. All round a fairly quiet boxing day, Dave and I were too tired to stay up and try and catch any of the boxing day test.
The 27th was supposed to be our last day at Bamboozi but we were all enjoying it so decided to stay another day, we would have to camp as our chalets were fully booked. The place was also getting a lot busier as more people arrived after their Christmases. We decided that for our last night we should cook up another seafood feast as it was also Dan and Alex's last day in Mozambique. We headed to the local market and picked up a bag of Crayfish and about 5 kilo's of prawns (well that's what the scales said…). The seafood was quite cheap, about 200mtn per kilo (4 pounds, 10 aussie dollar). Dan arranged for one the guys to collect some fire wood (palm fronds) and a huge fire was built in preparation. On the menu was boiled crayfish, boiled prawns, fried prawns (in a soya and sweet chilli sauce). It was all cooked to perfection and we all had a great feast to end our time in Tofo.