I watched from shore as Mark, my husband, drove our Toyota Land Cruiser quickly up the ramp of the ferry. He maneuvered carefully into position behind a semi. We'd made it after only an hour and a half of waiting. The line-up starting at the river snaked its way behind us while crowds of people chatted beside their vehicles or stood waiting at the water's edge.
I slipped off my leather sandals wishing I'd thought to wear my rubber flip flops. Gathering my three small children about me like a mother hen, I gazed at the edge of the ramp about five feet out in the water.
“Esther, you be careful that you don't slip in that water!”
I clung tightly to both my boys hands. Finally, we were given the “all clear” signal. The mad rush began to get passengers, bicycles, chickens and baskets on board as quickly as possible. I settled my children around me on the deck, feet spread wide so as not to fall. We watched as the ramp clanged and creaked to its upright position while we both felt and heard the huge diesel engine rumble to life.
The ferry backed away from shore, and the mighty Zambezi River did its best to sweep us down stream towards the ocean. The engine roared even louder, and we started making progress. A slight breeze alternately cooled our brows and choked us with diesel fumes. We watched as large islands of weeds floated toward us and on down the river. On the opposite shore, yet another line-up waited.
I shook my head muttering to myself, “Will they ever finish the bridge over this river? I can't believe this is the only route to the north of this country. Mozambique has come a long way, but it sure has a long way to go!” My children were oblivious to my ramblings as they played at my feet. Several ladies stared unabashedly at the crazy white lady talking to herself.
A bump, and we'd arrived. At long last, we shuffled our way down the ramp, grateful that this time we wouldn't have to wade out. As we clambered up the hill towards our truck, we felt the sun starting to bake our backs once again. A blast of cool air wash over us as we climbed in. I looked over at Mark with a smile, “Ah, that feels good! Let's get going!”
There was a long road still ahead, but the brand new highway looked so inviting. I knew it wouldn't last. Roads had a way of deteriorating quickly around here. Before the noise level in the back seat got too rambunctious, I picked our latest book from the bag at my feet. “Shall we get back at it?” The kids settled into their favorite positions in the back seat and before long, the five of us were carried off to a far away place of strong heroes, danger and adventure.
But, six hours later, the asphalt had reverted to its more natural state – more potholes than not. Mark weaved onto the side of the road yet again to avoid a particularly deep one. I paused in my reading to hang onto the door handle. My voice was scratchy and raw. “Should we just quit there for now?” I said hopefully.
“Just a little bit more, Mom. We have to know what happens!”
I would have to stop soon. It would soon be too dark. Ahead, I saw a sign up ahead pointing to our left, “Inhassoro – 10 km.”
“Oh, look! We're almost there!”
Twenty minutes later, we pulled up to an archway announcing “Complexo Turistico Seta”. The gravel crunched under our tires as we pulled into the parking lot. “Hon, why don't you take the kids and walk around for a bit while I get us signed in here,” Mark said.
“OK. Come on kids. Let's go.”
We walked in the darkness down a little brick pathway towards a wonderfully welcoming sound. The Indian Ocean called out to us, “Come! Stay a while! Rest!”
The children ran on ahead to the sandy beach. Following at a much slower pace, I allowed the ocean breeze to wash away the tension in my muscles. I breathed deeply of the salty air and watched the little ones run around in circles in the cool white sand. The moon traced a shiny road across the water. I smiled and answered, “I just might do that!”
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