My holiday this last year included some time in mozambique, a wonderful experience that unfortunately ended with me being bitten by something nasty.

A full day later, when the swelling and tingling had stopped, and my opinion of the place had still not changed: I loved it.

Mozambique is what it is: A small tropical country still trying to rebuild itself after a long and bloody civil war. From what I’ve heard; every time you visit something major has changed. When my father went in on business, the harbours were still mined. When his friend went in two years later the major roads were still unpaved. The country itself changes before your eyes as rural areas blend into cities. Reed buildings give way to broken colonial mansions, which in turn give way to soviet-style apartments and shining new car dealerships before the cycle abruptly reverses. Mozambique is at once what every tourist seems to believe is the ‘real’ Africa and the exact opposite. It is a nation moving towards the future and a nation that is currently almost a stereotype of a tropical banana republic.

Of course, we did all the touristy things. We swam in the warm oceans twice a day and ate the fresh bread from the nearby bakery. We slept under mosquito nets in our generator-powered hilltop cabins and drank at a tourist pub. We stayed up and watched the moon rise, golden and improbably large, over the ocean. We had, in short, a holiday. I can’t, therefore, claim to have taken the pulse of the nation. But the feeling that I could sense some intangible strand of direction in the things I saw and heard we sped through our carefully managed experience is still strong.

Maybe in a few years time, when the country has changed again, I’ll know if I was right.

Oh, and for the record: we paid no bribes and spent not more than half and hour at the border control. So much for the hype.


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