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