How to be a happy Expat

It’s easy to romanticise the Mozambique experience, imagining we all live on the edge of a pristine beach with silky white sands and turquoise water lapping at our feet. We crack open coconuts for an afternoon cocktail and enjoy the mighty African sunsets while the cook prepares us plump king sized prawns for dinner. That the pace of life is slow and to rush would be criminal. WRONG!!!

As a mother, I fantasise all day about my free time which starts around the 7 o clock kiddies bed time! Our lives are fast here. It may not be punctual (nothing is ever punctual in Africa) but it is full up. When the lights go off and we tip toe down the passage after ‘story time,’ I can almost sense the private little celebratory dance that happens in our minds. But that thought is quickly squashed and replaced with a viscous scramble for the remote. What is it going to be tonight, Pop Idols or Top Gear?!

For dinner it’s lentil cottage pie (I’m giving vegetarianism a shot) except for weekends when we get to indulge in a few prawns or piri piri chicken! But that’s about the closest we get to the stereotyped permanent beach holiday life some people might think we live! Besides we live on a sugar cane estate. During the summer months, it’s a mosquito infested swamp with the humidity of a sauna every time you step out of the house. In the winter months, dust and black soot from the mill forms a thick layer on everything that is stationery.

A place like this can get you down.

And the question is, how do you survive it or better yet, how do you be happy in a place like Mafambisse?

I have one rule. During the weekends, we get out and do stuff! We explore, even if it means taking a 6 hour drive to the nearest decent beach or taking a road we have no idea to where it leads. We camp, we walk, and we take every opportunity to go somewhere new. It’s hard work sometimes – but a change in scenery keeps things fresh and exciting.

This weekend we went to BD beach – short for Bartolommeo Dias (a Portuguese explorer) – and stayed in a remote lodge at the point of an estuary. To get there, one must drive 27km on the beach north of the small holiday town Inhassoro.

We arrived at Inhassoro in the late afternoon and settled down for some grilled calamari and chips at the famous Johnsons beach bar. Around 9pm, the waves had receded and the tide was low. We set off for the final stint of our journey with the sound of Tom Petty’s Free Falling and the moon lighting up our way with waves and sand dunes on either side of us.

And I thought to myself, ‘despite all the challenges of living in a remote place, faraway from ‘anything’ – for the most part, we do live a blissful life. But we choose it. We make it happen.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” Jack Kerouac

37 replies »

  1. Reality is the same no matter where you live, isn’t it? I’m glad you’re taking time to enjoy the area! Oh, and by the way, my husband LOVES Top Gear – the British version. I don’t even mind it too much!

  2. This is the best advice ever for expats feeling blue, adn something I try to keep reminding myself whenever Sicily and its derelic buildings and Mafia mayhem get me down too much.
    Thanks for a great post and lovely photos too.

    • Thanks for the comment! I must say mafia mayhem and derelict buildings sound very exciting, but isn’t it always for someone who does not get to experience it on a daily basis! I thoroughly enjoying your blog and that it gets down to the gritty stuff and the content is not run of the mill travel blog material 🙂 It keeps us coming for more!

  3. That is a GREAT quote. And this is a great post. I’m so interested to learn more about what life is like there, and I agree that we need to take time to get away and SEE things. I need to do this more myself. Wonderful photos of things I wish I could see for myself in person, but, alas, for now I live vicariously through you. Thank you!

  4. I understand what you mean. I’ve been in Denali National Park since 2011, and all my friends are under the impression my life is filled every day with flightseeing, rafting, idyllic walks in the tundra, constant wildlife sightings, and general glamour. Yes, those things happen (hence my blog), but the day-to-day reality is – a crushing job, living in a tiny, mold-infested cabin with no running water for weeks, and being so exhausted from work that I have no energy to do things.

    But, in the end, I’m in Denali, and you are in Mozambique. And that’s cooler than what a lot of people have.

    Nice pics by the way!

    • Thanks for reading Kevin! Nice to know that there are other folk out there feeling the same thing! I guess it’s all about attitude and focusing on the positive experiences…and putting the bad one’s down to ‘character building!’ Your blog sounds interesting, will definitely be checking it out 🙂

  5. Another amazing post from the wilderness. I love this! The longest beach we have in Italy is barely 15Km long. And you’d be arrested after driving the first 500 meters on it… Keep up the great reporting and fine photography!

    • thank you Alessandro, it was a wonderful weekend. There is a back road that we could have taken, but the lodge does not recommend it to visitors. It runs through the mangrove swamps and is in a particularly bad state! But it was really fun to cruise a long the beach with not a soul in sight!

    • Oh, i so know what you mean. I did it once, when twenty-something, in Baja California: me, the ocean, the beach, the desert, my (borrowed) motorcycle – bliss. Keep up the adventurous outings!

  6. As a fellow expat I think you are so right. It sounds exotic living somewhere else in the world, but it is never as easy as it seems. You really have to make it work. Lovely images.

    • thank you guys! The bug has bitten! How dull would life be without travelling! Looking forward to your big trip one day! Just avoid those pirates if you ever get around to this side of the world!

    • We have planned to avoid that side of the world. It’s unfortunate because we would love to do the full circumnavigation of the world. Ohh well. We will be grateful if we still get to do half of it 🙂