Mozambique. Paradise lost. Is just my short recollection of the many splendid holidays I had there at the holiday resort Beira, which like most things in Africa, now no longer exists as we knew it anyway. How dreadfully sad. Of course I am going back a long way in time to the early sixties and seventies before all this was lost to us forever. Consequently it is a trite difficult to find images of then and there.
Now that is the Estoril Hotel where we as a family stayed year in and year out and I have to admit I loved it there. To get there we travelled from our farm in Norton to the third largest city in Rhodesia known as Umtali which was on the border of Mozambique. I trust this little old map gives you some idea of where we are. Umtali on the Eastern boundary of Rhodesia and from there into Mozambique in those days under Portuguese control. Ah the grand old days of colonialism eh? It was actually a very short drive from Umtali to Beira at the coast of Mozambique. Once through the border post and in Mozambique and the thin tarmac road which was only the length of one car and the first stop was in Villa de Manica as we were kids then and needed a toilet break. As a matter of fact I still being a small boy became an ace at recognising the better toilets in Mozambique. Nice toilets being the number one comment. The other thing to remember is that when an approaching car came one was supposed to drive with one wheel on the tar and one on the dirt. However the Portuguese just stayed on the tar full time, but, more on that later. Little Kevi is bored so starts an argument with his elder brother PJ of which he never won one. Outsmarted again I am sitting with a bad case of the mutters when a troop of Baboons troop across the road. I now have a brainwave and with a broad smile say, ‘look there goes your brother’, to which my brother replies, ‘yes, that is right’. And everybody bursts out laughing. Tsuh, I’m not a boy.
Next stop Villa Perry and then onto Beira and our holiday begins. Now one crosses the road from the Estoril and walks towards the Pavillion, chalets for people camping on the left of this road, and then on the beach. Now we as a family always and I mean always sat near to the lighthouse. Picture on the right. There was also an old shipwreck on the left in our time there along long time before this photo was taken. In the times I was there the wreck although rusted was in a lot better condition than in this snap and was used as a sand break. Anyway idyllic times were had there and gradually I became older and older and more reminiscences to come. Our family friends the Wrench’s also always spent some time here and there daughter Shelly a year younger than me couldn’t tan and always ended up with a severe case of sun burn. Shame hey?
So growing up and am now getting sozzled at the Pavillion every night, great Ceverja There and mine was Laurentina and occasionally getting off with the odd chick. Now this year there was a guy there from God alone knows where with long blonde hair. He is playing war games with all the kids there and a vast entourage is following him. They finish up and go to the Pavillion. A short while later he leads his troops back onto the beach and they are all carrying a mini bottle of beer. I have never seen so many mothers come off there towels so fast before. But the kids will not part with their beer and eventually Dad intervenes with a leave them. It is night time at the Pavillion and this guy is trying to get off with some Rhodesian chicks but they want nothing to do with him and are giving him that typical chick hard done by stare. I get there as he says to them trying to make conversation, ‘parlez vous Francais’? When that doesn’t work, ‘speuken sie Deutsch’? And I just had to laugh.
My old school-friend Runt Bradshaw invites me to go on holiday with them to Beira. I immediately accepted. His folks are a bit short of a few bob, so we are camping, the first time I have ever camped there. Without a shadow of a doubt it was one of the nicest holidays I have ever been on. So much fun and so many laughs. Runt and I however keep on asking to go to the Pavillion and this puzzles the old man who cannot understand what for? Runt was a late bloomer and very small for his age then but eventually the old man relents and spruced up and looking in our prime we head there. Just as we have ordered our Cerverja we look up straight into old man Bradshaw’s face who has followed us. He just says, ‘now I know why you wanted to come here’, and storms back to the caravan. He must have pricked our conscience as we downed our snorts and went back home.
Now before I forget, Rhodesia was a country at war as was Mozambique, but somehow this never affected our travels. The blacks supported by left wing politicians were trying to get into power and not having the wherewithal to arm themselves were being armed by these countries. As best my memory serves me correctly the Portuguese had a system known as ‘assimilada’ which basically meant they rewarded blacks with this privilege which entitled them to all the privileges the whites had. I silly you not.
My last time in Beira I actually got off with a chick who was a walking, talking, living doll. What she saw in me to this day remains a mystery? You see the thing is about Mozambique. Paradise lost. It really was that and completely and utterly unspoiled. I loved it there and always will. The wonderful restaurants and superb food. Had something like this at Johnny’s place a superb restaurant in Beira. Back to the chick, every night we have a drink at the Estoril downstairs and there is a Portuguese guy playing the organ and fabulous songs but with no singing. It is her last night there before going back home and the table we are sitting at is a bit wobbly so she says to me, ‘what do you have to say about this’? So reply, ‘I dunno’. to which she says, ‘sea air affects the state of equilibrium’. For some reason I was furious or just trying to be cool, so stormed out and left her sitting there all alone. Never and I mean never have I been so ashamed of myself. Now there are only two girls I ever owed an apology to, one of whom I have since made peace with. But not Julie who I think was from Que Que and whom I never saw again and now can’t find. My apologies kid, I promise I never would have done that today.
Herewith the song in question.