Head over heels in love and determined to make it work, young interracial couple James Combrink, 26, and former UCT student council member Thembelihle Ncayiyana, 25, were the lucky winners of this year’s Close Up toothpaste #BreakingBoundaries social media couples competition.
Their prize was a trip to Mozambique so they set out to explore the wonders of this country with actor, presenter and YouTube vlog sensation Moshe Ndikwe as their chaperon. They were immediately mesmerised by the beauty of Mozambique, but what they didn’t know was that it would be the beginning of a happily-ever-after story.
Arriving on Thursday evening in Maputo, the capital, the couple checked in at the prestigious Polana Serena Hotel. With a beautiful palm-fringed terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean coastline, a vibrant mix of cultures and grand colonial architecture, it’s the top five-star hotel in the country.
The hotel was established in 1922, when the city was called Lourence Marques and the country was a colony of Portugal known as Portuguese East Africa. It has a selection of rooms from single studios to the presidential suite, which features a separate lounge with mahogany furniture, a magnificent view of the sea and ivory-coloured tile floors leading into a bathroom with a Spanish-inspired bath and shower.
From the balcony, there’s a breathtaking view of the sea and the neighbouring islands. The next day, they set off in the early morning on a yacht trip to Portuguese Island and Inhaca Island, which is a 52km2 island which separates Maputo Bay to the west from the Indian Ocean off its eastern shores. The palm-fringed beach at Inhaca and the warmth of the sea make it perfect for snorkelling.
Next stop was a smaller, neighbouring island whose people depend solely on tourists to make a living. After a delicious feast of fresh, grilled fish and other seafood, it was time to head back to the hotel for an experience of the city’s nightlife. Maputo comes alive in the night and the streets buzz with tourists, residents and vendors all out to either have a good time or make a buck.
After their night out, Combrink and Ncayiyana strolled back to the hotel enjoying not getting stares from bystanders or racial comments about their relationship. The next morning they headed to the city markets before embarking on a three- hour shuttle drive out of the city to Gaza province. As the sun set on the ocean, the couple arrived in the town of Bilene in southern Mozambique.
They decided to stay at Humula Beach Resort for two nights, where another white sand beach and an azure ocean set the tone for an eventful finish to the trip. After breakfast served in bed, the pair made their way to the beach and were soon in a speedboat heading for another island for lunch, drinks and water sports.
Later, as it was their last day of the trip, Combrink organised a romantic dinner for two under the tropical night sky. In the candlelight, he went down on one knee and asked Ncayiyana for her hand in marriage, which he sealed with a white gold tanzanite encrusted ring and they promised to love each other forever.
A perfect ending to a trip in paradise.