Watching the sun rising over Pomene’s palm fringed shoreline, it felt as though we had woken up in a Bounty chocolate advertisement. What a paradise! The night before, under barely an eyelash of winking moon, we had rolled in over the dunes towards our friend Pat’s remote reed-walled hideaway. The morning’s rays brought straight backed locals, balancing baskets of vegetables, fruit and warm Pão (bread) on their heads for us to buy.
All flippers and limbs, we gracelessly fell backwards from the boat and in to the sub tropical Indian Ocean. Before I had a chance to adjust my eyes, I felt a bump and turned to face every plankton’s worst fear; the gummy cavernous mouth of the world’s biggest fish. Unperturbed by my slack jawed mimicry, the whale shark casually propelled itself past with a few languid flicks of its powerful tail. It appeared to be moving in slow motion and yet we could barely keep up. More whale sharks appeared and we followed them until they dived too deep. We could hear humpback whales singing to one another in the distance.
Much like the whale sharks, Tofo’s locals have an unhurried, laid back approach to life. Fisher folk still sail in and out of the bay in dhows and time is measured not by ticking clocks but by the ebb and flow of the tide. We learnt how to play an ancient game called Bao as we waited (an African length of time) for our tasty prawns and calamari to be cooked up in a shack by the sea.
With so many travellers washing in on its white shore, we felt blessed to witness Tofo’s culture, pristine dunes and abundant marine life before they are inevitably spoilt by its popularity.
Maputo is a patchwork city crumbling beautifully beyond repair. The botanic gardens are now a lawless jungle few dare to enter. 4×4 walking skills are required for navigating the potholed pavements of its hustling streets. Nothing is thrown away; everything is inventively mended and re-used. It’s colourful, filthy and inspiring with the best seafood we have ever tasted.