Mozambique 2002

Total Solar Eclipse

I really wanted to show Rachel what it was that I was always talking about just after we first started to go out together in 1999. So, on 29th November 2002, we flew with Air Portugal, via Lisbon, to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Rachel's sister, Hazel, came too. We travelled by bus in the company of noisy Mozambiquans to the small town of Xai-Xai, scene of the devastating floods in 2000, in an attempt to view the Total Solar Eclipse in the early morning of the 4th of December, 2002.

We camped at Xai-Xai Beach camp site, right by the wild Indian Ocean, with its great waves crashing against the steeply sloping sandy beach which went on for miles and miles in both directions. The day after we arrived, Peter and Julian arrived. They had spent three weeks touring South Africa in a hire car, and later we were joined by more friends from England, including Jon from Oxford who we met in Fianarantsoa last year, who saw the eclipse from near Isalo (grrr...).

Well, true to form the clouds came over and we saw nothing again. Actually it was worse than last year as there was almost complete (makerel) cloud cover the whole time, though we kept glimpsing the partial phase occasionally. The two days before, the cloud had burnt off with the heat of the sun, but this morning there wasn't so much heat so it never went. It was all very disappointing. We consoled ourselves with gin and tonics and champagne, both courtesy of Jon.

However, the Indian Ocean was wonderful and I had several swims in it, and got tossed by the enormous waves crashing against the steeply rising beach, which went on for miles and miles in both directions. It was worth going just for that! Maputo was an interesting place with a lot of poverty, but a few small signs of great potential. I'm sure once people discover Mozambique again, especially the beaches, and if peace remains there for long enough, they'll become a really rich country on tourism alone. I'd really recommend it. If you want an ocean-side holiday, somewhere reasonably cheap and almost completely undeveloped, then Xai-Xai beach is your place.