Northbound -

What is there to say other than we believe it and that’s already something!

The progress René and I made is smoother than Serge’s and even if we were not sure we would reach Pemba this evening, the adventure continues. The magic word is adaptability !

Serge is northbound and so are we; in the hope that Serge will make arrive there safely, otherwise it will be Tanzania and that will be a different matter. If you look at the map you will see that we are in the very north of Mozambique and Pemba is the last port where Serge can dock in this country. It is a country full of contrasts, with more than half of the population living under the poverty line. The prices are exorbitant: between 100€ and 150€ per night for a hotel room, 300€ to rent a vehicle with 100km/day, plus the cost of gasoline. It is unbelievable when you consider that most of the population has no running water so drinking water comes from rivers and infants are still dying from dysentery! This upsets me no end but it does not change the problems.

Here, business is king. The Chinese and other multi-nationals that exploit the country keep it alive in a certain sense (concessions, taxes at 17%) but, frankly, Scrooge McDuck with dollar signs in his eyes is close by and it makes me sick. It is without doubt one of the things that is holding back tourism. And yet, there is potential here with 2000 km of coastline and what little we have seen is really beautiful.

With Serge arriving at Pemba, it will mean 1,600 km of foot race in Mozambique alone and the wheel of fortune goes round and round. I have cancelled my job in July and now I fear that there may be a problem for August; we can’t live on the World Tour and ice water. Another problem is that of the high season in Namibia and Mozambique, which means it may be difficult to rent vehicles if they are not available. This is the reality of such an experience and far from being resigned, we will not give up.

I have just listened to a message Serge left me and have put it on line. Honestly, how can one give up? We have been working on this project for two years and now we have begun, so chin up! And it is also because we meet great people, like Shirley and Mike yesterday in Kwalala Lodge and today Sébastien Urbain at Balloré Africa Logistics, who is cool headed and welcomed us with such kindness. What a fantastic experience to meet such people! I’m not even talking about all the people we met in Madagascar because I would need a full chapter to list them all. I thought there might be some respite but I realize that there will be no peace as long as Serge is on the water. Even if Serge is back on track this evening, I know that this passage via the north will not be a simple formality. I also know that Serge is in a state of watchfulness and I am reassured. Too much confidence is not a good thing and navigating around Mayotte Island and the Comoros will be under tight surveillance.

Serge forgot to tell you a story. This morning he told me that he had the fright of his life. “I opened my cabin and there was a huge bird on the back solar panel. He must have spent the night there because I had to clean off an enormous pile of bird droppings before drinking my coffee”. I smiled with relief. Serge cleaned his solar panels yesterday and it made me think of the person who cleans his windows before it rains. Serge was happy to have news of his son, Sébastien: a rare commodity is precious. This afternoon at 17H00 his voice was good and it’s interesting how much information a voice can convey!