Not having our own means of transportation in Mozambique was
an exercise in patience and endurance:
Long distance buses leave at 4AM. Any other busses – meaning
mini vans – leave when they are full. That could be in 10 minutes, 1 ½ hours or
maybe only the next day; “full” is only when the last possible space is filled,
nobody can move anymore because any space on the floor and under the seats is
filled up with bags of rice etc. and everybody has additional luggage on their
laps. However, this doesn’t stop the driver from picking up even more people
along the road which leads to a travel time of 2 hours for 60 km.
When waiting for departure, standing outside the bus to get
some air is not an option – you must sit inside to show how full the bus is.
Booking a ticket for a future date is not possible; a booking system does not
exist. The most advanced you can book is buying a ticket at the specific bus
which is leaving the next morning.
Bus drivers decide on the price of the ticket; “rich” white
gringos pay extra. While we might be asked to also pay additional charge for
our backpacks, for a black African mother one ticket covers her, 2 kids and 2
oversized bags. We consider this our participation to foreign aid.
Due to some rebel activities in the center of Mozambique our bus from the coast to the mountain region needed to join a convoy under military protection. After almost 2 hours of forming a convoy and placing armed guards on selected vehicles we were able to cross the 150km corridor. The convoy immediately turned into a race of faster and slower cars trying to advance their position in the lineup passing each other while slaloming around potholes and missing parts of the street conveniently dismissing opposite traffic.
Taking a bus in Mozambique is an experience and an
opportunity to literally rub shoulders with the locals, suffer through
potholes, dust and heat together and share moments of fun and the excitement
when the bus reaches the final destination.