Sunday 7 August 1960 - Day trip to Mozambique

A hot clear day and very lucky in being able to join the Crooks and three other cars in a long day trip into Mozambique to visit a Portuguese dam and an agricultural research station ...

The Chicamba Barrage stood in tall Msasa forest – not stunted by mountains.

The dam was named “Barragem Oliveira Salazar” after the president of Portugal. We drove through steep dry, rocky bush from the viewpoint to the dam wall, which spanned a very narrow gap between two jutting rocky buffs – a magnificent natural dam site.

Swallows with rufous rump and throat were nesting or roosting under the “eaves” of the dam wall. How long it had been up I don’t know, but they hadn’t taken long to find it to their liking. It probably constituted a continuation of the cliff habitat either side. They peakedly disappeared into niches of the concrete. Many lizards had also strayed onto the glittering white dam down from the hot rocks.   

Arriving at the Sussendenga or Little River Research Station - on very good soil – we drew up under a grove of tall trees with severed lianas dangling from their upper branches where the undergrowth had been cleared. This was a sacred native burial place.

The Portuguese were the soul of hospitality and we had to sit down to a spread at trestle tables, although we had all brought our own sandwiches. Magnificent food, hot and cold, fantastic creamy gateaux, wines, colourful minerals and even tea – specially for the English – but no milk. (I didn’t discover this until after I’d poured myself some from the bottle someone had brought for their baby – it was probably Glaxo or something – fortunately, in spite of language difficulties – which caused much amusement all round – there was enough English baby milk to fill the breech in the Portuguese defences.)

There were many strange men around, but no imagination was required to decide which ‘side’ they belonged to. The Portuguese were short and round in long trousers; the Rhodesians were long and lean in short trousers … it was just too amusing to see how each side conformed to its own style of dress.