Man down

Wessel was complaining that he thought he had malaria. He felt feverish and nauseous. I said that that was highly unlikely; like all of us, he had been taking his daily Doxycycline, and we were in winter, not prime mosquito season. Besides, I imagined someone with malaria would probably feel significantly worse than Wessel. He had something though, maybe food poisoning, or dehydration. In the back of the car, he fell asleep. After a while, the roadworks ended and we started down a section of highway pockmarked with enormous potholes – these had been lazily filled in with big, chunky rocks, making the problem so much worse. We weaved and swerved the avoid the craters.

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With the light almost gone, and a dramatic swirling thunderstorm brewing above our heads, we were on the lookout for accommodation. Anything. The road works were soon behind us, and we were flying down a newly completed highway. The highway was black, smooth and perfectly straight, and we coasted smoothly up and down endless hills into the distance. The gathering rainclouds were an ominous dark grey, and large raindrops drummed onto the windscreen. There was a surreal, serene beauty about the storm. We were driving quickly, eager to find a place to lay our heads. It didn’t seem as though there was a town nearby, but we were noticing a lot of signposts for tourist lodges branching off the highway. We took the next one.

According to the signs, the lodge was ten kilometers away. Not too bad, we thought, until we saw the state of the road. It was a single track through dense jungle, and the track had turned to slushy mud under the downpour. We wasted no time, and raced through the jungle. Tree branches smashed off the windscreen and mud splattered across Hammond’s white paint, as rain poured down through the jungle canopy. At the end of the road, we eventually found the tourist lodge. It was buried in the jungle on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the stormy coast below. Luxury wooden cabins that looked like ski lodges dotted the tourist park. We checked ourselves into a lodge.

Outside was a lookout where we admired the cliff and the stormy grey sea crashing violently on the rocks below. We had no idea we were even close to the coast. We went back to the room and unloaded our bags. I won the rock paper scissors for the loft bed, Jeff and Wessel shared the downstairs bedroom. The interior was all timber, and well furnished. Wessel quickly went to bed, exhausted and sick, whilst Jeff and I decided on dinner and drinking back at the restaurant.

The rain continued it’s relentless downpour, drenching us as we walked from the car to the restaurant. We sat at a table and introduced ourselves to the manager and bartender, both local Mozambicans, who were hanging by the bar, chatting. It too was a timber lodge-style building, with big glass windows keeping the jungle thunderstorm at bay. We were glad to be safe and warm inside. A large group of South Africans sat at a long table in the restaurant, talking loudly and drinking beers.

Jeff and I sat down to order, and despite our best efforts to order something healthy for once, we found ourselves once again ordering greasy deep fried chips and sausages. Not a very good meal, but the black russian and white russian cocktails were going down very well. Pictures hung on the wall of what we presumed was the owner, a white South African man in his 40’s wearing rugby jerseys, and showing off giant fish he had caught.

We enjoyed a few more beers before deciding to play pool in the adjacent games room. We went inside and started playing. The bartender and restaurant manager, presumably bored because we were the last customers left, followed us inside to take more beer orders. We ordered another round, and offered the others a few games of two-on-two. We played, Australia vs. Mozambique, for a few games, before thanking them and deciding to go to bed. We considered where we were. We couldn’t find ourselves on the map and didn’t know the name of the lodge. It was the middle of nowhere, Mozambique coast.

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