Going off he beaten path at Mozambique’s Ponta do Ouro
With my boyfriend’s family in tow, we piled into the cars with a whole bunch of surfboards but not much of a plan. We knew we would leave the rental car at the border (a sketchy endeavor in itself), hitch a ride to the beach house, and get really, truly off the map for maybe the first times in our lives.
We spent the next three days lounging on the beach, attempting to stand-up paddleboard along the shoreline (much to the amusement of the neighborhood kids), and shopping the markets just down the street from our beach house. We clamored aboard a skiff in search of dolphins, watched a local fishing competition transpire in the bay, and commissioned an intricate hand-crafted wooden 4×4 from an artist meant to look like my truck at home. Evenings were spent watching kiteboarders chart miles back and forth over the bay, sipping on frosty Savannas (a cider drink the locals enjoy year-round), and feasting on fresh seafood and fruit smoothies.
Now a few years later, I can still see the gleaming smiles of the vendors saying yes, of course I could take their photo, and hear the sounds of the the fishermen launching their boats into the surf by hand. I had never been to a place that felt so wonderfully far from home; where not a syllable was understood between myself and the locals, replaced instead by the universal language of smiles, laughter, and gestures, with the occasional pointing at items on the menu and nod of the head.
With any luck, the sandy access roads and sheer enormity of distance required to get to Mozambique from North America mean it will be almost impossible to blow up the spot in coming years. But even if Ponta do Ouro becomes more popular for us tourists, it will always remain that perfectly unspoiled place on the Indian Ocean in my memory. Just as it should be.