Rivers

A river can have many names and many faces. To my knowledge, the one pictured above has two names only: for us is rio Maputo and for South Africans is Pongola river. The last name seems to correspond to the place where the river is born inside South Africa.

As for Mozambique, the same river appears with the name of the region crossed by it: Maputo. When a Mozambican refers to his own country, he usually says “from Rovuma to Maputo”, meaning the territory comprehended between the northern river Rovuma and the southern river Maputo.

This river crosses the south extreme of Maputo province and joins the bay right in front of Maputo city. It is a busy river, with a strong will of its own. Due to the dam build in the South African side, Mozambicans have to face big floods from time to time. When the rain season comes and there are signs of extra precipitation in South Africa, it is almost certain that we have an uncontrolled mighty river in this side of the border.

We crossed the southern Mozambican river last Thursday. Paul looked at the color of the water and commented: “It has to be raining in South Africa! Look how the color of the water shows the contact with the fertile soil!”

In 1982, during the cyclone Demoina, this river went crazy and inundated important areas of the province, making bridges disappear under its strong whirlpool. Paul still remembers to be called to help in the rescue operation to save people living in affected areas.

Regions in the vicinity of Ponta do Ouro, like Zitundo, are prone to floods due to the existence of lakes. Those lakes, like the one we visited in Tinti Gala, are much more than plain mirrors of blue water. If we forget it and walk around unaware, we can disappear in seconds after becoming crocodile lunch. Unfortunately, I am talking of a relatively recent fatal case that happened with one of NB’s friends.

When the floods affect the lakes, it is possible that a crocodile, a hippopotamus or a big snake end up on the beach, leaving local and holiday people in panic. I remember the fuss that a crocodile created when found walking on the sands of Ponta do Ouro. Paul says that crocodiles are only dangerous inside the water, from where they attack the unprepared victims. Even with this in mind, I think that any one would be scared to death with such encounter!

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