Sunday, January 24, 2010

Malawi, Mozambique, and Cape Town

Well three and a half weeks goes pretty fast. As usual, Africa was a good time. Joy and I learned a lot about Mozambique and Malawi and enjoyed our time back in Cape Town visiting friends and seeing how that country is shaping up for the World Cup that will be happening in just a few months from now. Highlights of the trip included the Art Deco and Portuguese colonial architecture in Maputo and other towns in Mozambique and in Malawi lounging on the golden shores of, and swimming in, the remarkably clear waters of Lake Malawi. Blantyre is a pleasant city with a wonderful art gallery and many decent international restaurants, although the National Museum is a national disgrace. The new parliament being built by the Chinese in Lilongwe is totally uninspiring although the roads throughout the country (which I suspect the Chinese also had a hand in) are much nicer than I expected.
One of the most interesting and unexpected events of our trip was when we accidentally witnessed the trial of two gay men who had recently been arrested in Malawi on charges of gross public indecency because, in the words of the Malawian police spokesperson "homosexuality in Malawi is illegal." The atmosphere in the packed courtroom felt very similar to what one might expect at a circus freak show. When the two very pitiful looking men were escorted into the courtroom the entire audience in unison stood and oogled them with disgust, amusement, and utter fascination.
Our trip to Mozambique confirmed what we had heard while living in South Africa. The place is booming with outside investment from South Africa and abroad. There are still two bad strips along the main N1 highway going north from Maputo but in general the roads are good. The most surprising thing was the number of local tourists that were frequenting the beaches at which we stayed. Apparently Mozambique has a healthy (though of course still proportionally very small) middle-class that enjoys partying. Tofo, a legendary beach resort area, was packed with more local tourists than foreign ones on New Years Eve, many of whom sported heavily modified cars capable of blaring Beyonce out of their boots at annoyingly high decibels. As anyone who has traveled in Africa knows, local tourists are a rarity, so I was happy to see them in Mozambique despite their penchant for listening to booty music until the sun comes up (I like my booty music in smaller doses preferably between the hours of 10pm and 2am).

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3 comments:

  1. You tell a bit about the condition of the roads here and there. What were you traveling in on those roads? And where did you stay over night?

    uncle Bob

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  2. Well we rented a car, a little Hyundai Atos (think updated Ford Fiesta)and usually stayed at backpacking hostels. The Atos did a quite a good job, we only blew out one tire and got stuck in sand just two or three times on the whole 2 week, 3000 mile journey through Mozambique and Malawi.

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