The tropic of Capricorn in Mozambique was coconut country, and it was gorgeous. When one pictures the tropics, there is usually an image of palm trees, blue skies and lush jungle. That was 100% true here.
On either side of the road, tall slender trees launched into the sky and exploded into bursts of bright green foliage. Dry and crunchy palm fronds were littered all along the ground, dessicating in the midday sun.
Farmers hacked and chopped the coconut bunches with machetes on small wooden benches and tossed the coconuts into big piles. As we drove, the shadows of palm trees criss-crossed the highway under a beaming blue sky, flickering into the car.
Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn
The first time we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn was in Namibia three weeks earlier, at a rusty car graveyard called Leonardville. It was decidedly less photogenic there, a dry scrubland with packed red earth and the shells of abandoned cars.
A big maroon-coloured sign announced the tropic. We spotted it suddenly, overshot it, slammed the brakes on. Without a car for miles around, we reversed back up the highway for a photo. The locals watched us setting up our tripod and posing, curious, machetes in hand.
We were something like 15km south of the town of Massinga Town. With the photo taken, ticked off our list, we continued. Further down the road, we took a dirt road turnoff to the town of Inhambane.
The very pretty town of Inhambane
Vasco de Game visited to port town of Inhambane in the late 1500s. At that time, this was a developing Portugese port, trading in such inconceivably controversial items as slaves, ivory and whaling.
Today, happily, none of those things take place, and instead we found a bay of sea-facing restaurants and cafes.
As we waited for an order of pizzas to arrive at a bayside cafe, we discussed the next leg of the drive. As usual, we made our usual decision that we keep driving, instead of calling it an early day. It always seemed that we were pushing our luck to see how close to driving at dark we could get.
Getting weary of driving in Africa
Deep down we were all pretty weary from life on the road. We’d done adventures, we’d done relaxation, but at this point we just wanted to sleep in, wear clean washed clothes, have a shower and a shave, and get off the Chakalaka and fried beans diet. Home was looking like a good option.
Unfortunately, the decision to continue was a poor one, as our last leg of driving took us directly into congestion.
We ran directly into a massive roadwork project; probably a hundred kilometres of them. The first section was still newly excavated, and was just a dirt road being levelled by earthmoving machinery. The highway was raised, whilst the temporary roads to either side ran down beside like gutters big enough for a car to travel alongside.
This meant that traffic was diverted either side of the highway, single file, and moved slowly. Frustrated, we drove up the bank and onto the construction site, picking up speed and making much better progress. All the other four wheel drives were taking this option.
Eventually, frustrated roadworkers ordered us off the road, so we drove back down the bank, an angle of about 45 degrees on loose gravel (Hammond’s offroad treat for the day), and carried on.