Arsenal Gap Year Part 1 - GDM Club. Manica, Mozambique travel blog

The day began at 10.30 a.m. for me, I sacrificed a hair cut for a lay in, some people would say I'm lazy I'd just say I was really tired. However if I'd known how much sleep I'd be getting on the journey to Manica I wouldn't have bothered.

Anyway I woke to realise that this would be the last time in 4 months that I'd see my bed, room, house, family and most importantly Penge again.

The Airport - Big Goodbye

It was nice to have the family altogether on the way to the airport, where I met up big Drewdinho and his family. After checking in Drew's bags the families met and tucked into some chow.

Then the big moment arrived - The Goodbye! After both families had cleared the airport of Kleenex in an emotional send off, we sauntered through security in our Arsenal trackies and were on our way!

The flights went perfectly, we left Heathrow at 18:00 and landed at Joburg at 07:30. We proceeded to walk straight through to International transfers.

Our first slight cock up came when we waited in the lounge before passport control for the Beira flight. Upon seeing the 'now boarding' sign we went through security control… Only to find probably one of the best departure areas EVER!

Still we made the flight and left Joburg at 11:30, I'm not even going to comment on Beira International Airport but let's just say its seen better days.

The Arsenal trackies worked a treat in Joburg for attention, but failed to pull off their charm in Beira.

Mozambique and the Drive to Manica

After a 10 minute wait we were greeted by the legend that is Short Chikwandingwa and club captain Tasso. Following a warm exchange and embrace we were whisked off to the red chariot that is the red Toyota van. This prime piece of mean machine was a van which had rusting parts and a piece of wire to hold the back doors together. Although as we later learned off of Schalk (and briefly heard in Blood Diamond), TIA - This Is Africa.

Short and Tasso couldn't have been anymore friendlier or helpful, even offering us to sit in the back where there was a full mattress we could nod off on.

My first impression of Mozambique was WOW! Drew and Me were absolutely gob smacked. It was so surreal to see the way of life first hand instead of on a TV screen. It was the combination of poverty, atmosphere, heat and beautiful scenery which rocked our senses.

During the 4 hour journey to Manica we must've been stopped at least 4 times by the police. Or as Short likes to call them 'the stupid police' so funny in his accent and mannerisms, a real character. Short even bribed one officer because the van's horn didn't work even though Drew came up with an alternative. He offered to simulate the van's horn noise when Short pushed it. Gave us laughs when it led to us making 'honking' noises for the next 5 minutes, I thought I was back at Little Kickers coaching.

Toyota Trouble/Transfer

After drifting in and out of consciousness all day I finally came too to hear Short debating with himself whether to stop for petrol or risk ploughing on to Manica, you can see where this is heading. So about 50 miles short of our destination the engine starts choking. Eventually the chariot gives up the ghost; I think Drew and me are grateful for the chance to have a stretch.

I knew they'd look after us but I still looked at our current predicament. Stuck in the middle of no where in a country with active land mine fields and enough precious luggage to drown a shire horse. Yes, I was thinking CRUMBS!

However, luckily, another GDM club director drove by and gave us a lift the final leg of the journey.

Even though this driver had his trance music booming out I gladly suffered the headache as opposed to being stranded.

Finally the Big Arrival... Hello Grupo Desportivo de Manica

Upon arrival everyone associated with the club was more than friendly, they were impeccable. After chugging back our first Mozambican Fanta we met Schalk Van Heerden and he outlined our plans for the stay. Apart from being the nicest person ever he also knew everything there was to know about Mozambique - from culture and entertainment to food and drink.

After our chat with Schulk we were shown our accommodation. To be honest it was very good and the club had stocked up handsomely with extras such as soap, milk, sugar etc.

Vumbing 'ell

Schalk then took us to the Vumba lodge restaurant where we ordered a tasty starter (it involved prawns in flour which were then fried) and for main we all ordered the half chicken and chips. All I’m going to say is if Vumba Lodge goes global Nandos you better watch out! It was just what the doctor ordered after our endless procession of airplane food that day. It was a 9 o'clock start the next day so we caught a taxi back to the club and crashed out in the penthouse.

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