Posted by: Anna | January 9, 2011

Mozambique Wrap Up

Mozambique is a country that Tommy and I do not plan to revisit. When other travelers ask us, “Oh, how was Mozambique?” with an excited voice, we inevitably pause, look at each other, deciding how honest to be. I hate to complain about a country with so much to offer, but….The honest truth is that there were a few things to like, and a lot of things to overcome to really like it. When we left, I felt relieved.

Between the fear of being hassled by cops for bribes, waiting an eternity for food every time you want to eat, the heat, the wild party at Fatima’s (our hostel), the vicious mosquitoes, and the expensiveness of the diving, it was hard to appreciate the beautiful beach. It is hard to have fun when you are hot, hungry and tired all the time; Maslow had a point with his hierarchy of needs, although I don’t remember air conditioning as one of the levels. If you read this blog and envy the exotic places we visit, let me tell you not to envy our visit to Mozambique.

Haiku for Mozambique

Oh my, Mozambique
Sweat, sand, sun and bad service
Farewell to untz untz

-Anna

Beautiful beaches
Strangers quickly turn to friends
The lone good in Moz

-Tommy

Mozambique was our first “true” Africa – National Geographic, Peace Corps Africa. Driving through Mozambique, we saw poverty – little hovels selling cell phone air time (worldwide, people may not have running water, but they definitely have a cell phone), women carrying jerry cans of water on their heads, and children on the side of the road selling cashews, mangoes, bananas, and beer. I am struck every time by the children working to sell cashews, or whatever, on a Monday morning. They are not in school. They work. It makes me sad. Basic education as a child seems like a given to me. That’s a first world perspective I am quickly learning.

Cashew trees

I realized that I do not know what it is like to see an American – what would I think? Mozambique, outside of the tourist areas, makes you feel different. You are not from there – there is no blending in. We have heard that Americans are loud, friendly, and ignorant. That’s our reputation in the traveling world. Also rich. And compared to most of the residents of Mozambique, that last part is certainly true.

Maputo street scene

The police corruption is interesting in a way – how different is it to me to insist I just give you my money rather than go through the negotiation for a bribe? Both are corrupt to me. But the police did not straight out rob us. Why not? They have guns; they could. There is obviously a different set of moral standards that apply; it is okay to ask for a bribe, food, or a cold drink, but not okay to just make the tourist give you their money.

Mozambique also made me especially sensitive to the degree that capitalism acts as the foundation for the operation of a first world country, especially America. On New Years Day, we wanted to eat. Restaurants everywhere were closed because it is the day that the Mozambicans partied to celebrate since they were working on New Years Eve. There are never as many tourists in Tofo as on New Years. In the States, you can count on the fact that at the peak of tourist season, restaurants, bars and shops are open because they can make money. The same logic does not apply.

The beaches of Mozambique could inspire postcards and computer wallpaper. The tourist experience in Mozambique leaves a lot to be desired. On to better places.

Alison, Laura and us - Tofo beach

For more pictures of Mozambique, check out the Flickr page, here.

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Responses

  1. Adios to you!
    Mozambique; cops & food flunk
    New day, fresh start, YEA!

  2. I think on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs safety is first. You didn’t always have that if you are afraid of the police. Then is personal comfort if I remember right — you pretty much never had that. I can stand sleeping almost anywhere but HATE to be hot. I feel your pain.


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