I did not mention it before in my last post since I was still waiting to see what the outcome would be, but the reason I came to Karingani Game Reserve was for an interview. The initial plan was to fly to Karingani on a Monday and hangout until Thursday to get a feel for the place. Well I definitely am getting a feel for the place now. The flight plan did not work out with the looming threat of COVID-19, the CEO who was supposed to fly with me decided it is a better option to stay in South Africa than travel to international airports. My next option was then to make the 12-hour drive on that Monday instead and then stay for 10 days. However, South Africa decided Sunday night to shut down the borders except for one major border per neighbouring country. This means my drive was going to be extended a bit and I would have to go out of my way to Kamatipoort instead of a nice leisurely drive through Kruger like I had initially planned. I took an extra day to solidify my plans and decided to drive straight through instead of overnighting and making a two-day journey out of it. On Tuesday 17 March, I headed to Mozambique for ten days.
A few days after my arrival, South Africa completely shut down the borders and the entire country went into a forced lockdown. This meant that I was stranded in Mozambique for 21 days. Luckily, my interview went well, and I was able to jump straight into work. My new role is the digital media person at Karingani Game Reserve with a side of ecology work.
Two and a half months later and the borders are still shut down with rumours they might not open for international travel until October or maybe even not until next January! I am grateful I did not get stuck inside my little house in Joburg for the lockdown and instead have the option to be outside and move around the reserve. Unluckily though, it means that I am apart from my dog (who I miss terribly) for who-knows-how-long and all my stuff is sitting in a house I pay rent for yet cannot get to. I am so grateful to Kathryn and her family who have been taking care of Ryno for me through this whole thing, they have truly made him apart of their family and give him so much love. I could not have asked for a better place for him while we are apart.
I have not left the reserve once since I have been here. For most of the time we have been under a very strict lockdown, which was recently lifted. We have had a runner on the outside who would take supply orders to Maputo and do grocery shopping and pick up any other essential items we need. However, I quickly found out that food in Mozambique is MUCH more expensive than in South Africa. Apparently, most of the expats here usually cross the border and drive to Nelspruit or Hoedspruit for groceries in South Africa as it is the same distance as driving to Maputo (about six hours) and the groceries cost much less. This is definitely the most middle of nowhere that I have lived with having a six hour drive just to go to the grocery store! I have discovered pao though which is a traditional Mozambican bread cooked over an open fire. Sometimes our logistics manager, Cossa, will organise some fresh pao for me from the closest village (about a two hour drive away) which is always such a treat! But you have to eat pao the day it is baked or else it becomes the equivalent of a cannon ball.
This whole COVID thing is a story though, hey. I still feel really disconnected from the whole thing and somehow a part of me feels that when I can go home things will somehow be normal.