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An Angry Fisherman and Mr Sura

Inhambane, Mozambique


It took me less than two days to become well known with the locals in Tofo. Mainly because I was more than happy to eat with them in the little shacks that acted as kitchens, serving basic, yet tasty, African food - but also because of two separate incidents.

The first revolved around Sura, the local palm wine (which is not sold over the counter), and the second involved an angry and drunk fisherman. Sura is made on a daily basis in Tofo, and relies on Lobster John, so called because his eyes are as red as a lobster from too much Sura, climbing various coconut trees to collect the sap of the leaves. This liquid, mixed with a drop of water, is then boiled up over an open fire before being left to cool, after which it's poured through a wire mesh to catch any unwanted dregs.

As I said it's not sold over the counter, as I found out when I asked about it, but rather from an illegal drinking den behind the market. Without a local to show you the way it would be impossible to find this den, but once inside there are never less than ten people there drinking as two ladies make a constant supply of the hooch. At this stage I must stress this drink tastes disgusting, but at ten meticals (25p) a litre, is the cheapest and most effective way for the locals to get drunk.

I spent the best part of an hour in the den talking to slurring men, and learning the tricks of making the drink from the two 'Sura Queens', whilst supping on a few glasses to get an idea of how potent, and disgusting, it was. I was informed that too much will lead to a temporary loss of sight, which, for reasons still unknown to me, seemed like a challenge and thus I purchased a litre for the evenings festivities. Whilst I didn't go blind it was with the greatest of difficulty that I staggered back to my room at the end of the night, not to mention feeling like a bus had reversed over my head the following morning. I am now known in the local market as 'Mr Sura', and can't walk anywhere near the den without being offered in for a free drink - needless to say I politely decline.

One man who doesn't decline is the fisherman who got a little hot under the collar when he saw me snapping a picture of his fish stand, which for him is conveniently located just over the square from the Sura den. Apparently by taking a picture of his stall I was putting his business at jeopardy, and this is what followed:

Fisherman (speaking with a slight slur and fish blood on his hands): No picture unless you pay.
Me: Why must I pay?
Fisherman (trying to grab my camera): You ruin my business, take photo out now.
Me (putting a hand on his chest to keep him back): No, and get your filthy hands away from me.
Fisherman: Twenty meticals for pictures.
Me: I already said no you drunken fool.

By this stage a small group of other fisherman had gathered and were watching the situation with amusement all over their faces.

Fisherman: Ok we go to the police station.
Me: It's not against the law to take a photo.
Fisherman (making another lunge for my camera): Get the photo out of there now.
Me: (pushing him away from me again): I said no.
Fisherman (noticing the other fisherman laughing, and accompanied with an unsavoury hand gesture): You lot go f@@k yourselves.

In the end I defused the situation, which involved a fair bit of pushing on my behalf, and wild lunging on his, by showing him one of the pictures I had taken before turning the camera off and telling him it had gone. Despite being drunk he wasn't falling for that one, so I had to delete the worst of the pictures before he calmed down enough to let me walk off. On seeing him the next day, in a sober state I might add, he was full of apologies for the way he acted, although I had a feeling that was due to the fact he wanted to sell me some fish.

My time in Tofo will continue, although I will not be here for as long as I first planned - but rather I will venture further north for a few weeks before coming south to meet Mum and Dad in Vilankulos.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on March 20, 2009 from Inhambane, Mozambique
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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The Sura sounds like the bamboo juice we drank while in the Amazon jungle in Peru - it was like pure rocket fuel - very nasty tasting but all the locals drank it - the longer it was distilled for the more potent it got - think I will stick to 'Gin and Tonic'
See you soon
Love n hugs
Mum xx


permalink written by  Jayne Leach on March 21, 2009


typical colonial ..pissing the locals off . NOw that myself and Mary Jane have Split up i think i may have to start with the demon alcohol again !
p.s. it could be the battery acid that causes the blindness....


permalink written by  El Presidente on March 23, 2009


Marcus Hi!

Laughed at the Sura story and the angry fisherman - as to the taste of that drink, your years of tasting Aloe should have prepared your taste buds for anything. Really glad the trip is going well and you must be looking forward to your parent's arrival - they, of course, bring 5 star comforts!
All of Wales devastated after Saturday at the Stadium, the tension was unbearable and Ireland won the match (and the 6 Nations) with an O'Gara drop goal in the 79th minute. The tackling and the intensity was ferocious and brutal, you'd have loved it!
Anyway, best wishes for the rest of the trip and we;ll look forward to the updates. Huw and Janette

permalink written by  Huw Harries on March 23, 2009


aaaahhhh... the rugby ... the question is who has 2 world cups in their trophy cabinet ..and i dont means sevens world cups ....

permalink written by  el presidente on March 23, 2009

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