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  • What time we left on that Thursday morning all depended on one Michael Warren. We had had a bit of a verbal splatter about his punctuality (or lack thereof) the night before departure, but he assured us he would be on time. To his credit, at 04:30 on the dot the ‘miscall’ came through and interrupted my weetbix. We fetched Mr Williamson then it was on to Adrian’s place where Mike would leave his car. The early part of the drive up was chilled: we had a series of Coupling to watch on Adrian’s fancy phone that was stuck to his cracked windshield via what can only be described as a plastic contraption; then when we got bored or couldn’t make out the characters anymore, we had beautiful sunrise to distract us.

    We stopped at the Steers outside Mtubatuba for breakfast, but I opted for a pie from the garage instead. The drive was rather forgettable until we got to the Swaziland border post. We get our passports stamped and Adrian sorts out some car papers. So we drive the 30 metres through, and 3rd world hits you straight in the face. There are vendors both sides of the road and their border office has no doors, no glass, no wood, no pens, no aircon, nothing. Just three people, a computer on a concrete desk, free condoms, and skew pictures of the Swazi president and king on the barren wall. All that said, they were very friendly. After the hive of activity that was the bustling border post, which included a shack with ‘fast food’ painted on it with a braai outside, there was almost nothing worth seeing in Swaziland. Just bush and straight roads. Our only entertainment was when we went the wrong way and a roadside indicated our destination (Siteki) to be down this dodgy dirt road. So being lost boys, we went down the dirt road. Thankfully we met a game-ranger dude on the way, who told us we were on the right track but just took an unnecessary detour. Eventually we hit the tar.

    Our next stop was the Mozambican border post at Goba. Now this place (on the Mozambican side) was jacked up, everything was clean, organised and new. We went to the loo and this kind lady insisted us to pay 50 cents each. I paid her 1 rand, and she gave me 50 Swazi cents change. The bathroom was clean but it had no running water. Oh well, welcome to Africa. By now we were pretty excited, we knew within an hour we would be living the life in Maputo. The distance markers, however, were somewhat incorrect. It would say 42k’s to go, then we would drive on with no traffic for 20 minutes, and a sign would say 35k’s to go. This made Chris angry. This part of Mozam is darn rural, shantytowns abundant. The advertising of their generic cellphone service providers in and amongst the poverty made us laugh though: MTN had morphed into m-cell' and Vodacom into 'Tudobom', same font and everything. It seems cellphones are immune to poverty. Eventually we reached this uber-tollplaza that was just outside Maputo, a tenner got us in but it would have been cheaper in Meticals (the Mozam currency) which we hadn’t got yet.

    Maputo town is rather crazy. Potholes everywhere, thousands of bustling street vendors in the shadows of high-rise flats, cars that don’t indicate and every open piece of pavement is a parking space. Since we didn’t know where else to go, we went straight to the restaurant we had to meet at that night to register for the tournament. Really cool looking place. Across the intersection, we noticed some kind of shopping centre, so we went in to search for bathrooms and Bureau de change. This place was three floors high, but super narrow and, well to save some time, just imagine the worst shopping centre designed and you won’t be far off. Nevertheless we found a Bureau and swapped our Rands for Meticals at a rate of 3.2 M for every Rand. We had no idea how much stuff would be, so some guess work was involved. The food at the restaurant was not the best; Mike got the proverbial short end of the stick with his dry salami roll thingy. After food, we still had some major time to kill so we decided to go chuck a disc around at the beach. After all, that is what we had come to do. We had a good practice then the tide came in and ended it prematurely. Adrian cut his heel on a rock. He dressed it up with the first aid kit in his car. We then accidentally found a Game store, so we got some refreshments while Chris tried to find an Xbox to buy, thinking it would be cheaper.

    With still more time to kill, we came across a great looking bar right on the beach. As the sun dropped behind the city, we had some cheap but tasty local draught and blazed the Hubbly. For the first time we all had mental sighs of release and really took in the fantastic atmosphere of the place. It was awesome. Later we drove back to the original restaurant to meet up with everyone, but unfortunately William had had car trouble and, to quote himself, was ‘limping into Maputo like a wounded frisbee player after a big lay-out’. Not wanting to eat there again, Adrian suggested we go to the Mimmo’s up the road for a pizza. I suggested we should walk because it wasn’t that far. Now this was the way to see the city at night! We passed umpteen security guards with AK47’s, trendy corner café’s, the obligatory vendor and a dumpster smelling of urine outside a vacant lot even though a few steps away is the most brightly lit floor-to-ceiling glass boutique with fancy furniture on display. The disparities amazed us. By the time we returned to the meeting point, all the frisbeeans were there. We all signed in and picked up our goodie-bag that consisted of an m-cell cap and water bottle as well as our team shirts. Our Durban group of 9 played an epic game of ‘fives alive’ to decide in what order we were gonna shower.

    Once we had seen the team sheets there was much cause for debate. As it turned out, Adrian and Paul were in the same team, as were Mike and I. The rest of our crowd were scattered amongst the rest of the six teams. Now each team had 11 players, 4 ladies and 7 men, except for me and Mike’s team which had 8 guys and 3 ladies. As the on field team consisted of 5 players at a time, two of which had to be ladies, we guessed that this would be a slight handicap for us. Anyway, so we socialised and met the lady who was hosting us, Steph. We were all pretty stoked when she told us that the whole Durban crew, nine of us, would be staying with her. Steph’s boyfriend (Joe) was not there as he had gone out to Xefina Island with his mates to set out the playing fields for the next day.

    The house was an Ultimate Frisbee shrine! There were tournament discs up on the wall, a trophy cabinet full of Joe and Steph’s accolades, posters of the overseas tournaments they’ve been in and there was even an Ultimate DVD. I thought this was the coolest thing ever. We checked out the shirts in our goodie-bags and quite a few of them were too small, like excessively small, age 7-8. So of course we squeezed into them and posed for photos. Even though there were many beds, a few of us had to sleep on the mattresses they provided. Other than that, it was 5-star accommodation! I think we all slept very well that night, despite the bat/cat noises that came from the water pipes.

    The next morning we were all up early in order to get to the ferry on time. We drove in convoy down to Costa do Sol where the ferry would launch from. On the way there, we flicked through the local radio stations and found the craziest dance station jamming some serious party tunes, even though it was just after 7am. We bopped our heads in unison. The ferry wasn’t big enough for all +-70 of us to go at once, so it made two trips. All the clobber such as m-cell sponsored umbrellas, the team’s food boxes, bottled water and cases of soft drinks had to be carted on the ferry as well. Now that you could judge who was in your team by the colour they were wearing, everyone was nattering and getting to know each other. The island itself is a 2km wide speck of sand with some bush and old prison ruins on it, in addition to some local fisherman dwellings. Upon arrival we settled into our teams and did some introductions. It was an interesting mix of people: our captain was an American teaching maths in Lesotho, a supremely quite guy from Cape Town, Dylan from Joburg who we had played with before, a young American girl, two middle aged ladies who I think were locals and two young local boys who couldn’t speak English. Our team (Tete, pronounced ‘tet’, which is a Mozambican province) was playing one of the first games on the two fields.

    Ultimate was real good fun on this scenic spot with a cloudless sky and only a gentle breeze. And the sand brings out the best lay-outs because people aren’t afraid of getting hurt. Despite all this, team Tete failed to win any of their games, much to my disappointment. Our three ladies would tire out quickly thus making them easy for an attacker to lose, and the inexperience of our two young local lads was showing. Dylan was also frustrated at our situation. Between games we had time to chill out and watch the other teams play, and it quickly became apparent that Paul and Adrian’s team were damn hot as they won game after game.

    During the lunch break, a small group of us went on a mini expedition to the other side of Xefina. Along the way we saw some ruins of the prison that the bush was trying to reclaim. We had been told that the island had once been a leper colony, which combined with all the souls that perished in the prison, made for a spooky atmosphere. When we reached the other side, three of us swam out an old crooked concrete platform that may have been part of a pier at some stage it its life. After some more Ultimate, the ferry returned for us. The sun was setting at the perfect angle for our journey, it was a spectacular sight. The driver was concerned about the level of the tide as it had not reached its high yet, and sure enough the boat beached itself about 100 metres from the shore. We all had to bail and take a walk through the knee high water. The droves of half naked bodies emerging from the ocean would have made Darwin proud. The parking lot where we had left our cars had turned into a quasi-car-wash-come-night-club, it was a real scene! Shiny cars, drunken locals, vendors selling beer out of ice-cream trolleys, a guy hitting the rev-limiter in his taxi for no apparent reason all to the tune of MC Hammer.

    We bundled in the car and went back to our hosts place to get cleaned up for the party that night. Getting everyone organised was akin to herding cats, but we got the restaurant eventually. Apparently the party was supposed to be in the Maputo train station but the owner was asking too much and offering too little. All the same, this place was quite vibey and had been set out nicely for us. There was a buffet consisting of rice, salad, grilled whole chickens and potato chips. We also had free beer from the bar for a while. The food was excellent and we all had a real blast. Pretty much everyone just let their hair down with a beverage of some sought and swapped stories about the hectic day. Adrian, Mike and I set up the Hubbly and soon it attracted a little crowd, as it always does. William flattened two beers then couldn’t stop talking, he and I chatted for ages which was cool. Walking around, I laughed when I noticed that almost every person in team Tete was sucking on a beer or wine glass. It had been a tough day for us. Two locals set up their 7 foot long xylophones just outside the restaurant and pinged away the night, which added to the already awesome ambience. Disgusting as it was, I have to comment on the urinal for the place as it reminded me of the worst toilet in Scotland.

    I believe we all slept well again that night. We could afford to get up slowly as breakfast was organised at Café Sol nearby. Again the food was great, they provided bagels, cheese, ham, watermelon, yoghurts, fruit juice, tea and coffee. There were a few saw heads around. From there we went straight on to the American International School for the rest of the pool games, the playoffs and finals. Our Durban crowd helped set up the tables and benches. Ultimate was different of the grass, quite a lot faster. And the wind had picked up which made it interesting. Team Tete won our first game against H’s team, which seriously boosted our morale which was pretty low. On the winning point there were high fives all round and a group hug, we were smitten. We had to play the same team again in the 5th place playoff, and unfortunately lost. Now most of the teams could settle down to watch the final between Niassa (Paul and Adrian’s team) and the red team, I forget what they’re called.

    We had a sponsored 50 litre keg from one of Maputo’s leading beer manufacturers, and the teams not playing put that to good use. It was an awesome atmosphere watching the final. Beer was flowing, watermelon being passed around, William and I shared peanut butter out the jar with a stick he found on the ground, a few Mexican waves and even two topless streakers. It was close, but Niassa won the final as we all expected, which meant they went the whole tournament unbeaten. Afterwards there was a little prize giving where awards such as MVP male/female, best layout etc were handed out. Despite Tete coming last, we won the spirit of the game award as voted by the other teams over the two days. Team Niassa got fantastic glass discs as trophies, those are real special. Some tired Niassa players finished off the keg and packed up.

    After a quick clean up at our hosts place, it was off to the fish market for supper. We didn’t really know what to expect, but it was really cool. Basically you go and pick your fish or prawns etc from the vendors and then the restaurant dude takes it all away and shows you to your table in another courtyard section of the complex. Apart from a few of us who went somewhere else for some ‘real’ food, most had prawns while I had calamari and Chris and Adrian shared a big fish. It was all very tasty and everyone was happy. As the meals ended, the frisbee crowd began to start all the goodbyes. In the beginning, our Durban crowd didn’t really know many others but after two days of sun and Ultimate, a sense of camaraderie had been formed between all the players and we were all friends. It was great to meet so many knew people from different backgrounds. I feel we all made the most of it as we knew we would probably never see most of these people again.

    The next day, Adrian and I went out early to buy our hosts a gift. Adrian bartered a vendor down to 900 from 1600 Meticals for a beautiful rosewood box. It would be from Durban Ultimate. Joe and Steph were grateful. After more long goodbyes we finally departed. Our breakfast would be at a King Pie in town, where we placed a massive order of 19 pies and around 10 soft-drinks, it was a mission. While waiting, Adrian was taking pictures outside the store, in which a passing policeman on the back of a bakkie accidentally got in the frame. The policeman immediately pulled over and started moaning at Adrian. Apparently the Mozambicans are still paranoid about a Portuguese take-over, so security is very high. You have to have a special press-permit to take pictures of policeman, and the guy wanted to confiscate Adrian’s camera. Adrian deleted the photo and the problem was solved.

    Now because of William’s car trouble, Adrian had agreed to drive in convoy. After about 40k’s, it became apparent that the poor Renault was dying a slow death, so it was out with the tow rope. Adrian’s baby Renault swooped in to rescue its older French brother, and we were off at around 60kph for the next hour, only unhitching so William could limp across the border post at Goba. Thinking it would be just as clean, this time I went to the loo that you didn’t have to pay 50 cents for. I was sadly mistaken. As my excrement tinkled the ceramic, I was attacked by a squadron of angry super-mozzies and my yellow laser was futile against the nimble micro-fighters. Cries of help were heard outside but no-one ventured in. William laughed. After the passport stamping, we hooked the sick Renault up again and dragged it through all of Swaziland. Thankfully, William’s dad met us just outside the Swazi border post on the South African side, where yet another French machine had come to the rescue: a two-litre Peugeot. He would tow them the rest of the way. We said our goodbyes to the rest of the Durban crew, who were not even halfway home and already exhausted.

    Our next stop on route was an ultra-city, which coincided with an ANC rally. There were loud noises and Hummers with Zuma’s face minus a shower head printed on them. Steers had prepared by closing the sit-down part of the business. At any rate, we sat in silence for 5 minutes as we ate the best Steers meal to date on an outside table. We returned to the road slightly rejuvenated and watched another episode of Coupling. Then, as if we hadn’t had enough car issues for the day, when we arrived back at Adrian’s place Mike’s two front tires had deflated. After that palaver we dropped of Chris and finally I returned home around 20:30, a very fatigued boy, but richer in every way that matters.
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