David and Lili's World Tour

MOZAMBIQUE

March 2005 - Maputo, Tofo, and Vilankulo

The other tourists we meet are mostly white South Africans, so when we speak Portuguese, the locals make us feel especially welcome. There are big problems, though: AIDS of course, the residual destruction from the civil war, not enough doctors, and high prices.

The value of money is SO relative! Cheap here, expensive there. Something is wrong with that. It is counter-intuitive that Africa should be an expensive place to travel. But it is. One might think, "More poor = more cheap" but no. In Mozambique it is easy to spend 200,000 meticais on dinner (about USD $10). That's a lot for the local people. Many goods are imported from South Africa and Europe, thus the high prices, but these "first world" markets are not open to Mozambique's agricultural products. This aggravates the widespread poverty. Global trade negotiations are stalled on this issue. The World Trade Organization is biased in favor of the global north's rich corporations, and the "developing countries" are demanding concessions, as they should.

We are now entering the malarial areas, so we started taking Lariam (mefloquine). We have not felt the legendary side effects. Malarone is another good malaria prophylaxis, but it is quite expensive. Sigh. It should be cheap or even free.

We went to Tofo, one of those cool backpacker beaches, good for swimming, surfing and eating. Vilankulo is a great spot for snorkeling. Did I mention the incredibly cramped mini-buses? Come here as a tourist. But be prepared to sit uncomfortably as you move from place to place (the friendly people make this not so bad). Or hire a tour guide. But do come, and experience Africa for yourself.

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