Maputo 13 & 14 February 2018

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February 14th 2018
Published: February 22nd 2018
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Tuesday 13 February – I’m flying to Maputo, Mozambique!!!

After a full breakfast on the ground floor restaurant of the Easy Hotel Kenya I wrote up my last bit of my blog so was up to date. I then decided to go for a walk around the outside of the hotel.

Walking out the other hotel, past the security guard, to another security guard and through the security gate, I walked down the long driveway to the public road. For the next hour I walked along the roads, saying mambo to the locals. All along there were high security fences with electric of barbed wire on the top. The roads were terribly dusty as they were not seals, very rocky and Nairobi hadn’t had rain since 2017. I took some photos from the air to show how dry it is.

The area was a mixture of industrial and housing estate with several schools along the way. There were also the occasional roughly made food stands made of branches and canvas or galvanised iron. One lady on a stand was singing while she was cooking. There was rubbish everywhere. Several motorbikes sopped to ask if I wanted a ride. These were unlicensed ‘taxis’ many of whom didn’t had a driver’s license. I declined the offers!!! The Government has over looked the lack of licenses as there is such a high unemployment level in Kenya, as there is in Tanzania (almost 50%, particularly in the rural areas).

I then went back to the hotel for coffee and a bit more mobile phone stuff including messaging Kerrie, Sheryl and Toni (for her birthday). Later I also saw that Tom was on line so I called him and of course we talked about the next day where we were both arriving in Mozambique. He was in Swaziland.

After lunch a driver picked me up from the hotel and took me to the airport. We arrived at the gates of the airport and the driver told me I had to get out and go through security and met him the other side of the gat. He then went through the drive-through security. Now that is a first. I, with many others, stood on the footpath waiting for our cars to pick us up.

Never rely on signage in African airports as there often isn’t any. However, there is always someone to ask so I found the LAM Mozambique check-in counter (which wasn’t signed). The plane departed on time at 16:15, so I was off, rightly or wrongly, not knowing if I was going to be stuck in Mozambique or if I can get to Madagascar by 24 February. What an adventure. We stopped for 1 ½ hrs in Pemba which is in the northern part of Mozambique for a ‘technical’ stop.

At Pemba, everyone had to exit the plane taking all our belongings, even the transit passengers. I was starting the experience the very strong Portuguese accents as the locals were trying to speak English. I had to get a visa for Mozambique so filled out the paperwork and then one of the immigration ladies took me to an ATM to get 3000 of the local money. I convinced them to stick the visa over the Noumea memento stamp so that kept my clean page for South Africa (I hoped). They didn’t hesitate to do this even though there was another stamp from Portugal on the same page.

We then had to pick up our big bags from the suitcase belt and put them through the x-ray machine. We then were instructed to put them back on the belt, so they could load them back on the same plane. Can you believe it? I was given a transit card, so they directed me to the transit room. With original boarding pass in hand and another visa squeezed into my passport, I was one happy traveller. I already have a visa for Madagascar, so the only barrier now was the South Africa border authorities…but I have some plans for that!!!!

We arrived in Maputo at 20:25. There was no problems catching a taxi which charge by the kilometre, zeroing out their odometer. The money in Mozambique is Meticais with an exchange of around $1 AUD to 50 Meticais.

The Kapital Hotel was very new and comfortable and owned by Muslims and didn’t sell any alcohol which was no problem for me.

Mozambique (Portuguese: Moçambique) is a country on the Indian Ocean coast of Southern Africa bordered by South Africa to the south, Tanzania to the north and with inland borders with Malawi, Zambia and Swaziland.

Mozambique's eastern coastline along the Indian Ocean is more than 1,000 km long, a fantastic draw for scuba divers, fishermen, sailors and beach lovers.

In 1500, the Portuguese established a string of forts and posts up and down the coast, for their spice and slave routes from Mozambique up until 1891.

After World War 1, Portuguese investment in commercial, industrial, agricultural, educational, transportation, and health care infrastructure for the indigenous population started providing for better social and economic possibilities and these continued to gain pace up until independence in 1975.

Mozambique became independent after ten years of sporadic warfare on June 25, 1975. FRELIMO took complete control of the territory after a transition period and within a year of independence, almost all the Portuguese population had left Mozambique – some expelled by the new government of Mozambique, some fleeing in fear.

In 1975, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), an anti-communist group sponsored by the Rhodesian Intelligence Service, the apartheid government in South Africa and the United States after Zimbabwe's independence, was founded and launched a series of attacks on transport routes, schools and health clinics, and the country descended into civil war.

In 1990, with apartheid crumbling in South Africa, and support for RENAMO drying up in South Africa and in the United States, the first direct talks between the FRELIMO government and Renamo were held. In November 1990, a new constitution was adopted. Mozambique was now a multiparty state, with periodic elections, and guaranteed democratic rights. With the signing of the Rome General Peace Accords, the civil war ended on October 15, 1992.

The currency of Mozambique is the new Metical (Meticais Nova Família, MZN), plural meticais (Mts, pronounced 'meta-caysh'), divided into 100 centavos. Today, one Aust Dollar was worth about 748 meticais. Three zeroes were dropped from the currency in 2006.

Wednesday 14 February – Maputo

I woke up very excited knowing that I was catching up with Tom and joining the tour. After breakfast I waited down stairs from 10.00am with my bags. Kerrie & Gemma rang me for Valentines day which was lovely and they shared my excitement.

At 10.45am I saw the Nomad truck drive by on the other side of the road. I wasn’t quick enough to run out on the road. Ten minutes later I heard my name called and it was Tom & the guide Gareth who was South African. Was I excited? You betcha’. On talking to Gareth later and seeing the very small stamp put in Tom’s passport, and I had the same page with the same stamps on one of my pages, I quickly decided to take the risk and drive to South Africa with the tour. We then plan to stay in Johannesburg for 2 nights before flying to Madagascar.

I met the rest of the travellers, a couple from Sweden (Yvonne and Carl-Johan), Helena a 40-odd yo lady from Sweden and Matt from London. The driver was Shorty (a Zulu) and cook was Annelisa. They could both understand each other even though they both spoke different dialects.

We immediately drove in the truck close to the CBD and met a local guide who took us on a walking city tour.

Maputo was certainly more developed and cared for than Nairobi and I guess that is because of the strong (on and off) influence of the Portuguese. The French and British spent a bit of time there also as well as the Dutch. The main language is Portuguese.

We first visited their railway station, selected as the 3rd most attractive railway station Paris being number one. We visited Independent Square, the Botanical Gardens and the Iron House.

Maputo has been the capital of Mozambique since 1898. The city was previously called Lourenço Marques until the country's independence in 1975. It is the largest city in Mozambique and the country's most important harbour. It is situated at the mouth of the Santo River in the extreme south, 90 km from the border with South Africa.

In comparison with other sub-Saharan African cities, the urban area feels small and concentrated, with wide avenues and old trees. People are generally out and about in the streets, walking, driving and getting on with life. The vibe is healthy and active, with little begging and lots of street vendors and markets. Unlike Kenya, there is no heavy presence of police during the day.

After the tour we went to the Maputo Waterfront Restaurant Bar for a magnificent fish and calamari meal with a cold M2 beer. They had ordered ahead as the restaurant was very slow apparently. It was then off to our hotel, Southern Sun Hotel which was a beautiful resort on the beach. Rooms and facilities were excellent, including an infinity pool looking over the Indian Ocean. After settling into our room, we went down to the pool and over a local M2 beer, Tom & I had a lot of news to catch up on. For several hours we shared stories and experiences. A little later, the well travelled Helena joined us.

That night we all met in the foyer at 7.00pm to walk to our restaurant for dinner. The Sagres Restaurant was all decked out for Valentines Day with red and white everywhere. I had another lovely lime fish meal and Tom had pork shops!

The next morning we had an amazing omelette for breakfast which lasted me all day until dinner. We left Maputo at 7.30am for our 500km drive to Inhambane which is further north on the eastern coast.

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