I landed in Mozambique, at Maputo International Airport, and the immigration officer, let’s call him John, wouldn’t let me enter the country. Excellent start.
As I approached him and handed him my passport with a smile, he threw me back a repulsed lingering glance. Fair enough. Maybe he was in a bad mood.
John then flicked through my passport, observing it disdainfully and informed me that it was invalid.
“Invalid?” I enquire.
John then went through each and every page, in slow motion, pointing out every instance in which the corner was dog-eared. I’ve had this passport for nine years. It looks like you’d expect a nine-year-old passport to look like. Fine, except for some of the corners being tatty.
“With all due respect, sir, this has been my 17th flight in three weeks,” I said. “I’ve been doing a lot of travelling. You can tell that by all the stamps. I have never been informed that my passport is invalid before.”
After this, John got up and took a stroll.
I’m not sure where he went but he came back after about 20 minutes with that revolted look still frozen on his face, charged me $98 to pass, and hissed as I walked through, “Never come to this country with that passport again.”
It all goes uphill from the airport – via the harbour, across a stretch of sea and an hour-and-a-half later, to the beach of Machangulo, where I was greeted by Rory.
Rory is a nature-loving South African who was born and raised in Joburg. He is very tanned, has silver hair, and kind, vivid blue eyes. He confiscated my shoes straight away (sand is good for your feet and shoes are not) and dragged me off snorkelling, ‘quick, before the sun goes down’.
Within half an hour of arriving at Machangulo, I was bikini-clad and gliding over a school of silver moony fish in an ocean the temperature of bath water, and witnessing the most gorgeous thunderstorm roll in from the East every time my head bobbed up.
After this, it was straight into dinner with the rest of the lodge’s guests; three middle-aged couples and one adult male – five of the humans being English.
Once again, the humans prevailed to enliven my evening. The adult male showed me videos of cats being terrified by stationary cucumbers – one of the funniest I’ve phenomenons seen a while – and then we all talked about ghosts.
One couple (British) told me about the poltergeist she used to live with called Harry, who apparently, according to her exorcist, was grumpy because he died by being accidentally hanged in an apple tree.
The other couple (also British) talked at length about their ghost, who didn’t like hoovers and whom they named Mr Smelly.
It was amusing, bonkers, and it made me miss England.