Coming to Angoche

Angoche Travel Blog

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The road from Nampula (capital of the province and third largest city in Mozambique) was long, dusty, and in terrible repair. Mostly dirt, we would hit random stretches of good pavement, occasionally lined with huge mango trees, early signs on our journey that we were entering the realm of a bygone era.

The vehicle we bounced along in had tires so bare wires stuck out and made a slapping sound as we drove along the tarmac, but quieted on the dirt stretches. The Inslebergs that dominate the Nampula skyline petered out as we headed toward the coast, but still remained an eye catching sight when one loomed ahead of us.

As we neared Angoche we began to see more signs of the once mighty cashew empire based there. Old twisted cashew trees lined the sides of the road and clustered around houses. They looked healthy enough to our eyes but the blight that rendered the fruit and nuts inedible still affects them. 20 years ago this was a booming area. As we entered the outskirts of town we passed enormous factories with their gates chained shut, almost magically preserved glass windows belying the collapsed roof and rusted iron siding. We turned a corner and were suddenly on a broad paved boulevard, with sidewalks and streetlamps, leading into the heart of a downtown straight out of 1950's Smalltown America. We came around the traffic circle and I saw storefronts with plate glass windows and tiled columns. The mid morning African sun reflected brightly, hiding the empty interiors from view.

Angoche is full of contradictions. Single family homes and apartment buildings stand empty, yet the poverty stricken people sleep on the street. Parks dot the town, playgrounds and bandstands slowly falling to pieces, but the grass is kept clipped and sweepers clean the grounds every morning. A barber shop, complete with old fashioned chairs, in gleaming chrome and red vinyl still does business, but the shops around it are completely empty. There is the strongest feeling of "Ghost town" there that I have ever encountered. The whole town looks as if the residents just disappeared one day, and it is waiting for them to come back.

Walking away from the main streets and parks, you come across neat, compact single family homes, each with a short fence, detached garage, and well tended front yard. They too could come straight out of a 1950's US housing development, except for the distinctive Portuguese flair to the architecture- wrap around porches and odd angles and embellishments. Most of these houses are empty, but look as though their owners have simply gone on vacation, adding to the ghostly feeling of the town. Visitors to Angoche will not find a hotel, but many of these houses and apartments are available to rent officially.

On the South side of town, the Cathedral looms large. Whitewash chipping slowly off in the salty coastal air. it is a fantastic example of the "Portuguese Architecture" we saw throughout the town, all odd angles and asymmetrical faces with cutouts and embellishments accenting the facade.

If you want to go out to eat in Angoche, you are limited to three choices: 1 cook for yourself in your rented home (a tempting option when fishermen walk around town carrying lobsters all day). 2 Eat at "Pescador" on the big park on the north side of town (limited menu options based on whatever came in on the boat that day, all grilled or pan fried with lots of garlic. this restaurant is owned by a Portuguese woman and her Indian husband, whose very friendly kids wait the tables and cook the food). 3 eat at any of the three or four locations catered by the owner of the "vodacom" restaurant. One of the locations is the guy's house, which also doubles as a mechanic stand. His fare is somewhat more varied than the Pescador, but there is no menu. Beware, the same food is served throughout the day, just ferried between the different locations- the chips that were hot at lunch will be served cold at dinner.

The beach near Angoche is spectacular- pristine white sand, backed by small dunes, and well worth a trip. I was there over the National Woman's Day holiday, and the beach was packed with people, enjoying the sun, sand and waves, but most of the time it is empty and isolated. Behind the dunes there are plots of land just waiting for development into vacation homes. Angoche, crippled by the cashew blight, is now banking on a new crop of tourists to return it to glory.

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37 km (23 miles) traveled
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