Thursday, June 30, 2016

A brief detour to Moz

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Mozambique? I went with three of my PCV friends (Shamie, Sheila and Steph—we confused everyone with our similar names) a few months ago. We were supposed to go to Tofo in the southern part of the country, which is supposed to be a really fun tourist spot, but to get there you have to pass through this district where people are randomly shooting at cars, so Peace Corps told us we couldn’t go that way, which was a good call on their part. So we stayed in the North and ended up at Pemba instead.

Beach in Pemba, Mozambique

Since this was only the second country I have visited on this continent, I couldn’t help but compare it to the first one, my host country Malawi. Here are my thoughts:

  • Size: Mozambique is huge! It completely surrounds the southern part of Malawi, and goes on all the way to the ocean. We met a PCV there and he said that when PCVs need to travel to their capital in Maputo for trainings, they actually have to fly because it takes so long to travel there. Crazy!

  • Transportation: Another reason it takes so long to travel in Mozambique is because the roads in are not so good. We’re talking massive amounts of unpaved dirt roads that are no fun to ride on, and would be almost impossible to cross in the rain. It got to the point where we cheered when we reached a paved road. We did see lots of new roads being built, so things will probably improve in 5-10 years. They have minibuses there, but I didn’t see as many big buses like we have here for longer journeys. Of course, this was just the bit we saw on our trip, so other parts of Mozambique might be different.

  • People: The people there were definitely not as friendly as in Malawi. I felt like people there were almost a little bit hostile to foreigners. Compare that to Malawi, where people go out of their way to greet and help foreigners. Don’t get me wrong, we met lots of nice people and had a good time. But I just didn’t feel as welcomed as I did in Malawi.
  • Language - Portuguese is the official language of Mozambique, as it was once a colony of Portugal. This is the language for all government business and the language that is taught in schools. But in the rural areas, many people only know the local tribal language. So it’s similar to English in Malawi. None of us had ever studied Portuguese, but by learning a few key phrases and relying on our high school and college Spanish, we were able to get by in the urban areas.

  • Currency – The currency in Mozambique is called Meticals (pronounced “metacash” which is kinda funny). The exchange rate was something like 10 Malawian Kwacha to 1 Mozambiquan Metical, which made it kind of easy to do the conversions. Since their currency isn’t as inflated as Malawi, they had a lot more bills and the ATMs gave a variety of bills, instead of just 500s and 1000s like here in Malawi.
  • Food: We were on vacation, so we didn’t really try the local fare. But we did try lots of fresh seafood. I am still kind of getting my “sea legs” when it comes to meat, so I haven’t had much seafood since I was a teenager except sushi and salmon in the States and a little chambo (a native Malawian fish) here. But Shamie took me under her culinary wing and introduced me to fresh shrimp, fresh tuna, cod, lobster and more. So good!

  • Recreation – In Malawi we have the lake, but in Mozambique they have—the Indian Ocean! It was off-season so it wasn’t very crowded where we went. We mostly had the beaches to ourselves. The water was really turquoise and pretty in the sun. We saw little sandcrabs on the beach, and lots of jellyfish in the water. But they weren’t the kind that were poisonous, according to a few of the locals. I was so excited to put my feet in the Indian Ocean! It was nice and warm.

The 4 S's, enjoying a day at the beach!

No comments:

Post a Comment