To make sense of these last three postings, I'll mention that I'm compiling them as I go along, more or less, but have no means of putting them on this website.
Posted by Ken Thomas at August 20, 2010 08:45 AM GMT
I'm still in Chimoio, for three days probably, leaving tomorrow (Sunday 15th).
And like Tete, there's no internet.
But it's a nice place, different to other smallish towns, and a bit ragged in a well-worn sort of way. The best I can manage is to say it's like a place that lives its life out on the streets. And it has some atmosphere.
The people in the hotel here don't know any internet places in town. Yesterday I tried the main hotel in the town square, they told me there's no internet in Chimoio.
But then, one block back and on the other side of the road I noticed a large computer services shop and looked inside. There were two rows of tables with PCs on them, definitely an internet cafe I thought.
Yes it was, but no internet because there's no power.
"There'll be internet tomorrow," they said.
Outside I walked almost straight into an electricity linesman preparing to climb up a pole on the pavement. I thought maybe I'd mention that I used to do a similar thing for a living about forty five years ago, but so few people here speak any English and I certainly don't speak any Portuguese.
I did a similar thing outside the campsite in Khartoum one morning where a group of telephone technicians were testing lines at a cabinet by the gate and down below in a manhole next to it. They seemed to understand English and gave me a little welcome.
Anyway, this linesman, who had collected a couple of spectators, was wrestling with his climbing irons which were huge steel things, clunking about and attached to his boots, designed to wedge into the open spaces in the lattice concrete pole he was about to ascend. It looked a bit tricky and interruptions would not be welcomed I thought. So I continued on my way thinking that maybe power will return to the shop by the end of the day.
Well, the next day the power was back in the shop, but still no internet.
"The lines are down, should be back by Monday." And I learned that the Portuguese for Sunday was Domingo, as in Spanish, but Monday is called "the second day."
If all goes well, I'll be in Mutare, Zimbabwe on Monday, and will post all this stuff there if possible.
If there was internet here I'd be researching the recent history of this area a little.
When I first thought of reaching Zimbabwe through Tete, I remembered that this area was the centre of a guerrilla war for independence in the last century. Then I saw a car with a Frelimo banner and coat of arms on the back and remembered that Frelimo were the guerrilla terrorists in those days.
And here, on arriving in Chimoio, I found a tall office building signed as the Frelimo Central Office, and a large compound, maybe a school, on the edge of town also part of the Frelimo organisation.
So what were once "terrorists" are now an active political party with a hand in running their own country.
History never seems to teach anything.
With that in mind I tend to hope that all the wealth being generated by the mining boom around Tete will stay in Mozambique, but something about our modern times tells me that is perhaps unlikely. It would be interesting to find out what Frelimo's view is of so much land being used to grow bio-fuels.
But it explains something of the atmosphere of this place. Unlike Tete which was neat and tidy and well looked-after, it's a bit ragged here. The roads are generally repaired but fair-sized craters still exist in the wide concrete pavements in the centre. Some buildings show signs of extensive repairs. Remnants of the past I suppose.
And like Kigale, Rwanda, there are many men of a certain age getting about in wheelchairs, some with helpers. There were fewer in Tete, but it explains now why I saw in the suburbs a man amongst the kiosks, completely limbless, going about his business with the help of two comrades.
So all this gives the place a certain atmosphere, one of everyone looking out for everyone else to keep the peace alive and maintain the relative prosperity. And a sense of optimism everywhere.
I'm not the only white face here, there are a few others, and UNICEF have an operation here.
Everyone has a mobile phone and there are hundreds of motorbikes on the streets, old and new, well out-numbering the bicycles. Even the wild and remote road to here from Tete had mobile phone masts all along its length.
There are nearly always queues at the many ATMs in town (I assume that's a sign of prosperity, or is it?) and unlike other countries, not all of them have armed guards alongside them.
There are lots of boys selling mobile phone top-up cards on the streets, and SIMs, and they laugh when they realise I don't have a phone. Maybe they think it's funny that these white foreigners don't have phones. (Well, I do, but no local SIM. I'll buy one when I reach Zimbabwe).
In a cafe I saw a slogan on the back of a jacket worn by a young girl out with a friend. It sort of sums things up here:
"What Remains Is Future."
That could convey almost any philosophical theme you like but it's not difficult to imagine the message it's intended to convey here.
There are a few gems like that nailed up on the small wooden roadside kiosks and workshops you see along the roadsides, attracting the attention of passers-by. One such, near the campsite in Lilongwe, proudly announced the presence of "The Great Welding Doctor." One to visit with a bad bout of flu maybe.
Update - later that day........... I got advice that there's a very nice campsite/lodge on a lake between here and the Zimbabwe border. I even have the GPS reference! As I still have plenty of visa/insurance time to use up in Mozambique I'll visit it and maybe stay if it's as good as I'm told.
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