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Mozambique

Mozambique

Mozambique

ISSUE 18 ARCHIVE - MOZAMBIQUE DOS AND DON'TS

Traveller

Dos

DO Smile normally and keep a non-retarded

expression at the airport on arrival. A photo will be

taken of you and that will enter your passport as the entry visa. The look will stay on the page until it expires in the next decade.

DO Find the dive shop that gets up first. ďSnooze you loseĒ out there. Even with an 8 a.m. departure

we were the fourth boat on the mooring for the guaranteed mantas. The other three had driven them away, so all that was left was a big grouper and twenty other divers. Bummer.

DO The Whale Shark snorkel. Yes, itís not diving, but these behemoths move faster than a Czech truck

up the M1. You will only see them on a snorkel safari, but Goddam itís worth it. I havenít been in the water with anything THAT big since using a public swimming pool in Arkansas.

DO Change your money at the street markets. Itís a

20% better price than the banks and performed in

five seconds as opposed to hours at the state- controlled Portuguese spin-offs. That time can be better spent wishing you had Rand not Quid in your money-belt. The former is useable there.

DO Get the bends if you fancy a trip to Durban. Yup, despite many offers, there is NO recompression

chamber in Mozambique. Yes, not just your dive site, but the whole fugginí country. With 30-50 metre dives as standard, this strikes me as odd. But thatís what happens here. Durban is an hour by plane, free if youíre insured, but 25 hours back by bus to get your stuff.

DO Buy the DVD of your best dive. But remember, that African video adds 20 kilos to your body and

removes the same off the whale shark. Thatís why you blur the screen and the shark looks like a minnow behind you. Blame the Bargain Buckets and cheap donuts out there.

DO Tip the local dive guides heavily. Scuba is still in it nascency here and the more Mozambiquans that

get to Instructor level, the less fishermen and reef- rapers there will be. Your chump change can make more of a difference there than sitting in a glass vase at home.

Don'ts

DON'T Worry about the entry regulations. Like many Commonwealth countries that learned British bureaucracy, Mozambique learned it from the

Russians. And the pre-Gorbachev ones at that.

The two hour triplicate forms, sniffer snake for rectal drugs and beatings - as your connecting flight departs without you, will seem amusing next year.

DON'T Expect to eat the famous prawns out of the capital city. My first meal in Tofu, that said prawns, was imported North Sea tiddlers on a bed of manky

lettuce. All the good stuff is hoovered up for the politicianís tables in Maputo. Youíre left with whatever by-catch they wonít eat.

DON'T Reverse profile. They tend to mix the dives up a bit here depending on conditions. If youíre offered a 20 metre followed by a 35 metre, either refuse or make

sure you have a long surface interval. Extend it by forgetting your fins before the surf entry. Thatíll buy you half an hour.

DON'T Sometimes think you are in Shanghai out here. The Chinese have traded road building and comms

structure in the country for all the resources they can grab. It is no surprise that the biggest road ends up at the only hard wood forest left in Mozambique. Factory ships lurk offshore here and even take the humpback whales with impunity. Such is Africa at times. But Western governments never complain - as where would we buy cheap sh*t for our kids at Christmas if we upset Beijing?

DON'T Buy a crummy fake Rolex or Mont Blanc pen as a souvenir. Thereís too much great locally made

craft. Wooden sculptures, clay pots and even tangerine jams. Hand made from a hut near you and well priced. One tip... donít leave your batik picture anywhere near a dog on arrival home. Mine got eaten. Must have been a meaty dye in there somewhere.

DON'T Freak out when you see a pod of over a hundred dolphins coming at you. This is common here. There will be no collisions as they are intelligent. They donít

pay taxes and get to be here all the time.

DON'T Get left with local currency. It will sit in an old envelope at home for the rest of your life. No-one

will change it back. Ever. Better give it in at Maputo airport to the wised-up beggars who know this fact and are now richer than you.

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