Mozambique beach time

Dar to VilanculosA slight change of plans. We were originally going to fly to Dubai on the 18th but through sheer exhaustion of travelling in an organized group of people for 10 days we felt we needed at least one month of beach time to relax so here we are, Vilanculos, Mozambique, sea-side two-story bungalow, huge beach with huge tides, cheap beer, great prawns and very underdeveloped but we actually have the best WiFi we have experienced in all of Africa which is quite interesting all things considered. The owner has a good sense of humour with several humorous painted signs and a menu which is hard to decipher fact from fiction.

 

Frolicking beach pics to follow

Mozambique (Mocambique)

How many people remember, I think it was the 90’s, a Visa Travellers Cheques commercial on TV where two people are sipping Mai Tai’s with little umbrellas on loungers on the beach under a palm tree and a Courier shows up with their “lost or stolen” replacement travellers cheques delivered within 24 hours of reporting such loss or theft.

Well, I had a brain freeze several weeks ago in Zambia. I went to an ATM and they wouldn’t accept my ATM card even though the “PLUS” logo was on the teller. I need cash so I insert my Visa card to use for a small cash advance. The ATM asks for my PIN and I draw a total blank. I remember the digits in my PIN but not the order. Now I’m guessing there are 1024 possible combinations out of a 4 digit code and I’m lucky if my card company will give me more than three chances which they didn’t and my card PIN became forever deactivated on my current card. This is a bummer. I can still use my card online but nowhere where my PIN is required. I can usually get cash with my bank card at ATM’s but not always. If I get a cash advance on my Visa I find wi-fi, connect to my VPN and pay off the advance ASAP. They charge like 27 1/2 %!  So I call my Visa company, wait on hold as my Skype minutes slowly dwindle adding a little pressure to the wait time and finally only to be told by a representative who seemed unsure of his name never mind what I needed to do that I need to visit a local branch of my card (nope) or get a new card sent to me. There is no way in heck they can unlock my PIN. In this day and age they can’t unlock my freaking PIN! Actually hard to believe but if I were to meet a banking security analyst I’m sure he/she would have a very good explanation. At this point in time Mozambique is still an idea but getting close to fruition, we need an address to send a new card.

Finally with a permanent address in Mozambique for one month I call my card company and they were oh so nice and she is oh so easy to understand and yes all I need is a new card, same PIN will work and it will take 5 business days to send by courier to Mozambique. I made the call on Wednesday the 13th and today, the 26th Joyce and I are lying on the beach on our travel towels without the Mai Tai and mini umbrellas with a palm tree in the distance and a guy pops up out of nowhere with a courier envelope and pen in hand. “Sign here sir” he says. Not 24 hours later but not bad! Not bad indeed. 13 days from phone call to delivery half way around the world and my PIN works! Thank you very much.

 

Will war again cripple Mozambique? Nope, a false alarm.

Updated October 13, 2017

As you may or may not know, Joyce has flown back to Vancouver to spend some time with her ill sister Marilyn. We’ll meet up again in Dubai on October 15th but until then I’ll have spent two extra weeks here in Mozambique for a total of 26 days. It has been different without Joyce, my travelling companion and soul mate not being by my side. My hat goes off to those who travel alone and independently.

There are recent headlines in the news referring to the possible restart of the Frelino-Renamo war that crippled Mozambique over a period of many years. There was a truce signed in 2016 but just this week on October 5th Gunmen attacked police in Cabo Delgado and reports say as many as 18 officers were killed. Global Affairs Canada sent us an email to warn us about travel in Mozambique within some of the areas affected but so far it’s still safe here in Vilanculos. Fingers are crossed it doesn’t spread South.  I have a lot to talk about and that will come later but first some pics from the area.

Well it seems the potential government insurgents were just a bunch of bad guys shooting at the Police.  Foreign Affairs Canada contacted us again this time to suggest “caution” while travelling in the affected areas. Many police killed and not an insurrection but bad news none the less.

 

 

It is time to leave Africa

After 4 months in this amazing continent it is time to move on. Tomorrow I fly to Johannesburg for an over night stay then fly Emirates Business Class to Dubai to meet up with Joyce where we’ll start another leg of our adventure. I’m working on our final thoughts and hope to have this posted in the next few days.

Good bye Africa. You were amazing!

Well not bad. We covered 16,198 km travelling by land through 7 countries in South and Eastern Africa. We/I personally drove 13,649 km’s without incident except for getting stuck in sand once and getting towed out and once getting out unassisted. In our 8th country, Mozambique we used tuk tuks to get around so no real extra land km’s to add. We flew three times. The first was a flight deep into the heart of the Okavango Delta. The second flight was from Livingstone, Zambia to Lusaka and the third from Dar Es Salaam to Mozambique via Johannesburg.

I now have an interest in birds. There are so many species in Africa and they are all so different and beautiful but it’s a real challenge to identify them from the bird book pics!

All of the people were very friendly, no negative “colonizer” comments, pretty good food, generally good potable water and reasonably priced beer, wine and meals. No rain, some mosquitos but not many, a few spiders and other bugs but nothing to speak of. Many “wow” moments, many “oh no!” moments. So many moments….

Africa gets in your blood.

There is something here that is hard to put into words. It is poor and it is desperate in many cases. It has big Chinese influenced investment plans that will probably give false hope to the impoverished citizens their government preaches will be their saviour. There doesn’t seem to be any trickle down, only the Government and the Chinese win. Definitely not the people. It is generally a corrupt continent that has so much potential but..

We’ve seen many good things on the child educational front but most countries end free education at grade 8. After that and albeit in many cases for only a nominal fee to continue through 8-12, the cost is still too high for many so many do not continue their education. A great pity because they all have huge aspirations and I can’t imagine what it feels like to not be able to continue on because you have no money. Money is available but it is in the pockets of the corrupt. There seems to be little or no empathy by the leaders in Africa. Below are quotes from Lord Acton and they fit the bill perfectly.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.”

“Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.”

“Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force.”

“Absolute power demoralises.”

There is far too much of this happening in Africa.

South Africa is an anomaly although not much better. “They say” South Africa is not Africa and this interestingly seems to be true. Apartheid still has its supporters in SA surprisingly enough and the supporters are not necessarily “White”. There are many worse off people now than during Apartheid and many prefer the old ways. Education was free, children were fed breakfast and lunch and had a dinner to bring home with them. Now it is much different and it’s not working for the people. Crime is rampant as is poverty. The Apartheid government brought infrastructure and manufacturing to their area and it paid off for a while. Please understand I am not defending government sanctioned racism or any type of racism but something they did worked. South Africa is very developed but they have a corrupt government under Zuma and the ANC and now they are starting to look like all the other countries suffering under dictatorship in this amazing continent. That said I guess there are ways you can attribute good things to Sadam Hussain, Mohamar Kadafi and many other “glues” that kept their countries together. What to do? Oh my. I better change subjects…

In Mozambique, my friend and bar server Lorenco makes 5,000 Meticales per month, about $100.00 Canadian! He works 6 days a week for at least 10 hours per day. What to eat? Produce is inexpensive at roadside stalls but other staples at the grocery store seem expensive based on the local income. One loaf of rye bread is 100 MTC, about $2.00 CAD so if you make $100.00 per month that’s 2% of your monthly salary, for one loaf of bread.
People generally sustenance farm, fish and collect shellfish and crab along the huge expansive beaches when the tide is low. They seem happy but it’s not an easy life.

Namibia was…wowl! What a fantastic country. Open spaces, desert, mountains, dust, gravel roads and endless nighttime skies and our introduction to some challenging African roads.

Botswana was…Once in a lifetime? Incredible adventure in the Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe National Parks doing true unfenced camping in the wilderness. Crazy 4×4 driving through deep sand roads, bone rattling “African Massage”.

Zambia was…Surprising. Canoeing down the Lower Zambezi River, while a real challenge, reinforced for us that you can do what you set out to do and succeed with optimism and determination. South Luangwa National Park. What a great experience. Wildlife Camp where we stayed 2 nights was along the banks of the Luangwa River and we both had an urge to start camping again. We missed camping. The wildlife was at our doorstep.

Malawi was…The children. We didn’t spend much time in Malawi but the best time we spent was with the village children in Ngala(?). The children have dreams of their future. I hope their government won’t let them down but it will take another 20 years, a generation, before the country can reach its true potential. This is the story of Africa.

Tanzania was…Darn, didn’t see much other than roadside. This was our second time in this country and we still have seen very little due to the circumstances involved. Mikumi NP was very nice.

Mozambique…Joyce spent 10 days in the country and I spent 26 days. Very relaxing but far too much cheap beer, prawns and calamari was consumed.
The song “Mozambique” by Bob Dylan sums it all up quite nicely;

And when it’s time for leaving Mozambique
To say goodbye to sand and sea
You turn around to take a final peek
And you see why it’s so unique to be
Among the lovely people living free
Upon the beach of sunny Mozambique.

So, goodbye Africa. We will return.