Thursday, July 4, 2013

She took a midnight train (that actually had a specific destination)

After spending some time in Ilha I headed back to Nampula so that I could buy my train ticket and head towards Cuamba. I wanted a second class ticket (not nearly as chique as it sounds - third class is basically a more horrible version of a chapa - people, chickens, goats, pigs and massive quantities of food all stuffed into an unimaginably tiny space. Whereas in second class you actually have your own seat, an exciting rarity in Moz travel) so I arrived at the train station at 1 pm so that I would be ready for the ticket sales to open at 2 pm. Of course, nothing in Moz ever goes as it should - a security guard "took me under her wing" and wouldn't let me get into the line to buy tickets. I assumed this meant that she would slip around back and get me a ticket once the gate opened . . . but no. When they started selling tickets my new bffl security guard grabbed my hand and pulled me to the front of the line. SO AWKWARD. I had been within the first two people at the station, so most people didn't gripe too much about the fact that I had just cut everyone. But it was just annoying and so awkward - I was completely okay with standing in line for an hour and tried to explain that to the guard, but she just didn't listen/maybe thought she was doing me a favor? Anyways, later I ended up meeting two Swiss girls both of whom bought second class tickets at around 3:30 pm meaning that everyone I had cut had ended up with the ticket they wanted as well. Feeling slightly less guilty about the whole thing.
Back at the backpackers' I met some girls who were also going to be traveling the train the next day. This was WONDERFUL because the train was the part I was looking forward to traveling with company and since my travel buddies hadn't been able to make it, I was a bit bummed out. We got to the train station at around 4:30 am, probably unnecessarily since in second class you have an assigned compartment and the train was to leave at 6:00 am. The train is now my favorite kind of travel in Moz - it actually left ontime (!!) and the compartments were so large - there were only six people in each compartment and no one even tried to cram themselves in with us. The landscape was beautiful, travel from Nampula to Cuamba is pretty much only by train, the roads are completely unpaved and in some places don't even exist so we didn't see any cars, just village after village. At each stop it seems as though everyone living in that area rushes to the train holding up anything and everything that they think the passengers would want to buy. Did you forget your toothbrush? Need a lifetime supply of tangerines? Carrots? Fried treats? And in case you can't get enough food from the side of the rails, there is also a dining car on the train. I know. Crazy. A dining car. On a train in Mozambique. They only serve the typical Mozambican fare - 1/4 chicken, rice, french fries, and salad, but it was still wonderful. Plus the landscape in northern Mozambique is completely different than southern Mozambique so everything seemed a bit more interesting (photos to come . . . still haven't found a camera cord that I can use). Basically the train was awesome and I would highly recommend it for your next Mozambican adventure :)

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