Barra – 3 September

I woke up Sunday morning slightly confused about the pain in my hand. I tried to remember what happened but thinking was made very difficult due to headache that rendered my brain useless. As I laid in the tent, slowly regaining the power of thought, the pain began to spread to just about every section in my body, including my toes. As if struck by lightning (which I am sure would be less painful than what I was experiencing at that stage) I remembered the incident with the cactus.

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The cactus looked worse

The night before we went for drinks and between 7 people drank 4 bottles of Tip Tinto Rum and Raspberry of which I had my fair share. The problem with the brand of rum that we bought was that you were never quite sure how strong a specific batch is and if you get the wrong one, one drink can push you over the edge.

I could now vividly remember falling into the only cactus in a 1km radius and the subsequent de-thorning that was done by Marcia and Clayton – some of the thorns easily went 1.5cm deep. If I was not under the influence I fear I would not have had survived the incident but unfortunately the alcohol that proved to be a valuable ally against the pain the night before, now switched sides against me.

There was definitely still a couple of thorns stuck in my feet, legs and arms and it already had the unhealthy, red infected glow to it. I decided to first deal with my headache. Clayton, also a bit fragile, fortunately arrived at that moment with baked beans on toast which, combined with the cold shower, quickly did the trick. Marcia continued her de-thorning activities and removed a couple more from my feet and legs. My hand was still killing me and I was barely able to move my fingers.

Since we would be leaving the next day we decided to go and explore Barra which was about 15km away. We wanted to test Bertus’ sand driving abilities and this was a good spot to do so especially since people said we won’t even make it to Barra Lodge.

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On the road on the beach in Barra

We reached Barra confused about why people would say Bertus won’t make it as the sand was really not an issue. We heard there was a lighthouse nearby and decided to go and explore that since the road there was basically on the beach. We however stopped at a lodge first just to make sure that it is in fact the road we need to take as it is illegal to drive on the beach in Mozambique.

They confirmed that it was indeed the road and we set off. The stretch on the beach is about 800m and the sand was quite thick and loose. Bertus however had no issues and managed to reach the other side without even a moment of hesitation. We spent a little time exploring the area and the lighthouse which was not very impressive. Personally I do not see the fascination that some people have with lighthouses but then I am sure people do not understand my fascination with taking photos of doors.

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Barra (photo credit Matthew Murray)

We took the same road back and stopped to take a couple of pictures as it was a beautiful setting. Little did we know how much flack we would get for taking that very much legal road by people who just love to jump to conclusions.

Since the road we took to Barra was no fun we decided to take the road less traveled that snaked through the villages, just behind the sand dunes that hid the ocean. Tacks 4 Africa promised that it would be sandy and challenging and just in case some people want to again jump to conclusions: it is an actual road, very much legal to drive on.

Bertus and Woody did really well on the track until we reached The Dune. The Dune (still on the legal road) was just about the only hill on the route but the sand was very loose and thick. Just before the incline there was a sharp corner that takes up all your speed – something we very much needed to get us on top and over. Woody was in front with Bertus following at a reasonable distance. However Matt underestimated the hill and lost momentum halfway up.

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It is behind me isn’t it? (photo credit Marcia Brunner)

Woody went again, got stuck, reversed down and on the third attempt made it with the assistance of Marcia and some kids who came to see the entertainment (I was on camera duty due to my hand). Bertus was next and came flying around the around the corner but with all the failed attempts the track was even worse than before so he got stuck halfway up. On the 4th attempt Bertus made it, also with the assistance of Matt, Marcia and the kids.

We reached the backpackers just as the sun was setting, tired, hungry but chuffed with Woody and Bertus, despite the incident on The Dune. We were now confident that Bertus would be able to drive on most roads marked ‘4×4 only’ due to sand and started to look into where we could go next. Pomene looked very promising…

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