03.08.2012

Southern Mozambique - Summary


I had a very rough start. Within hours of my arrival in Chimoio I was cheated by moneychangers, had my laptop stolen in a hostel, had to abandon a horrid bus where we were squashed like sardines with stereo blasting. To top things off I was unable to get cash since ATMs very randomly accept cards in Mozambique. So if my first entries give the impression of Mozambique better being avoided - this is certainly not my message! But even travellers with less traumatic experiences often feel overwhelmed on their first day in the country, especially women travelling on their own.

The rest was a great trip that took me from Chimoio to Vilankulo, Tofo and Maputo. In this part of the country, roads are just fine and tourist facilities very developed. Speaking Spanish gave me an advantage in buses and at local markets. In hostels on the “Backpacker Trail”, English is the main language of communication. The most striking bit was the difference to Zimbabwe, with its Anglophone, well organized and orderly touch. I loved Mozambique for being different, the Africa I knew from previous trips, the colorful Africa, the crowded one, with markets, loud and full of smiles and a capital like nowhere else.

I am very tempted to go back. To explore the northern part of the country, to do more scuba diving and repeat my ultimate highlight - snorkeling next, yes, right next to a whale shark. For about 20 minutes, this giant remained close to the surface, allowing me to swim along. The only thing I would do differently: have my own transport. Crowded buses are one thing, but overcrowded buses with a blasting stereo are unbearable.

Mozambique is changing fast. A country that only made headlines with horror stories of poverty and an ever-lasting brutal civil war is now praised for an economic growth rate (8%) rarely seen in Africa. Investments are pouring into the booming mining industry (coal and gold) and the newly discovered gas fields. The emerging urban middle class drives flashy car, lives in grand houses and shows a growing demand for consumer goods. The rural areas are untouched by this boom, though. Mozambique is the place to go, if you find these contrasts appealing.

 

Picture by Jason Risley.