Three Days to Quionga
Most relaxed are the hippos
when I cross the Rovuma
in dugout canoe. No
immigration forms, uniforms
when I step out onto Mozambican
ground. Up the hill, through woods
I walk arriving at two
huts in a clearing two hours later.
I’m told the weekly jeep might come
tomorrow. So I get my passport
stamp befriend the policeman
who gives me fish and a hammock
at twilight before the mosquitoes party.
Next afternoon I’m in the back
of the jeep barreling down a dirt
path limbs of thick trees poking me
inside. Girls in muciro masks stare
as we shoot past. Arriving
at the first village I see some shacks and one
store with cement floor where I get permission
to sleep with my backpack.
During the night I dream
of Nampula its storefront windows
carrying only a can of beans wearing
a discoloured label. A lack
in vegetables isn’t all
that uncommon in life.
By late morning a camion comes. I
climb in and head down the tarred road
in slow swirls around
the potholes like craters. Eight hours
later we reach the empty streets
of Quionga only now realizing it’s Ramadan
and all I can find to eat is a basket
of 12 small mangoes as orange as the Indian
Ocean sunset with all its juices.