A South African Hiatus

Well, I let this blog slip away from me this past month. After a few weeks regrouping in South Africa, we made the move back to Mozambique to explore options and make plans. Slowly I feel like we’re getting a better grasp of what life may look like here over the coming months.

Getting to South Africa felt remarkably like coming home. The first few weeks in Mozambique felt unfamiliar in that exciting and frustrating way. Coming back into SA, where so much feels Western if not American circa the 1960s, there was less thinking required on the day to day. We set up at a hostel in a beautifully green small city called Nelspruit. Built in the middle of a nature reserve, and surrounded by forests, cliffs and savanna, this was a welcome change from sweaty Maputo. Our days were generally spent between the computer, shopping for camping gear, talking to people about their time in Mozambique and watching for snakes as we walked a growingly confident pup through high grass (in spite of all my jumpiness, we saw none).

One of my favourite things about SA when I was last here was the incredible diversity, both in people and landscapes. I was happy to see this still holds true. We took one trip east of the city to find an incredible pine forest with wild horses and baboons running throughout them. We found old logging roads to give the truck it’s first 4×4 exploration and we happily poked around those for a few days. Later we headed north of the city to where the Drakensburg mountains jet out over massive cliffs above the beginnings of the savanna and Kruger park. The cliffs were full of tiny waterfalls that we could hike up and down with the pup. That town was also particularly passionate about pancakes, much to Bryce’s excitement. People we met were just as varied. One guy, after 2 minutes of meeting, mentioned how science has proven black Africans were quite simply worse (if not incapable) of finance and politics. Others came with great generosity and interesting stories about life in SA over the past 30 years.

The hostel we stayed at proved to be a popular spot for foreigners living in Mozambique but making frequent trips over the border. Some were doing the visa run, renewing tourist visas to re-enter as we were. Others were coming to stock up on supplies, food, gear and health care, as we ended up doing as well. Handy but, this seems to have had a negative effect on Mozambique since the country has consequently not developed those industries very thoroughly. We met loads of South Africans living happily in Mozambique with only great things to say. Granted, life in moz is significantly easier since there are essentially mini South African colonies set up along the coastline (look up Ponto or Tofo), and they’re not subject to the same immigration laws.

After a few weeks, it seems as though the only options for staying in Mozambique beyond the permitted 5 months is through a job or a company. Sounds so simple but formally hiring foreigners is more than complicated, and owning a company means employing 5 Mozambicans. We’ve got a few months to sort it out, likely from the more welcoming South Africa where we get 6 months free.

So with that, we packed up for a second month in Mozambique. Rather than spending another month in Maputo we were keen to explore the country and decide for ourselves if the hassle really was worth it. Feeling refreshed and excited, and perhaps a bit tired of South African living, we headed back for round 2. It of course began at the moz consulate in Nelspruit with the woman telling me she may not issue me my new visa because I had a lot of stamps (but many blank pages left, as per their requirements) and they felt I was “up to no good”. Perfect.

More on moz soon!