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Oct15

Countdown

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It’s the Final Countdown, ta da da da, da da da da da etc. This is the final working trip of this project so we are finishing with the house, car etc. Sold the car this morning, we get to keep it until Thursday though, and emptied the house of junk. Then to the beach bar for lunch followed by some last few gift purchases and grocery shopping. Then we blobbed and went for dinner at the fairground where there are numerous bars and restaurants surrounding a very small amusement park. We had a go on the dodgems, but the ferris wheel looked dead dodgy so we gave it a miss.

Completely fed up of restaurant eating now, I calculated tonight was the 38th consecutive restaurant meal. I don’t want to see another kebab, chips and salad as long as I live! We’ve worked out the last few days where we are eating! Oh and I got stopped by the police on the way home tonight, another freebie though.

Posted: Sunday, Oct 15, 2006 at 07:16 PM by jochta

Oct14

Xai-Xai

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After work Friday we drove the 220km to Xai-Xai - the provincial capital of Gaza province, the next province north of Maputo. We headed down to the beach resort and found chalets at the camping ground for rent. A very reasonable 850MTn (£17) for a chalet, room and bathroom. Basic but comfortable. There is very little else there apart from ruins of previous hotels and accommodation. It looks like the resort was a busy place before the war. There were a few people camping but we basically had the place to ourselves. We had several 2Ms at the beach bar with more staff than guests. We then sat at looked at the amazing night sky, with virtually no lights the sky was ablaze. Beautiful. The Magellenic clouds the best I’ve ever seen hanging over the dark ocean.

This morning we rose to look at the ocean, there is a ‘reef’ just off the shore and the power of the waves was immense. Definitely not for swimming in, it was just awesome standing and watching. We were the only people on the beach as far as the eye could see in either direction. Pure solitude with just the crashing ocean for …

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Posted: Saturday, Oct 14, 2006 at 06:35 PM by jochta

Oct12

Last Week

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So I enter my final week in Mozambique. It has gone so fast but it feels like I’ve been here ages. Bilene seems like months ago, not just a few weeks. Quite a bit to fit in the final few days, we’re still going to try for Xai Xai this weekend but probably come back Saturday evening to give us Sunday to do some things around the house that need doing.

And we have a domain at last! The University have done their bit and the nameservers are set up, need to go to the GovNet people tomorrow to get FTP access and a folder setup, hopefully a MySQL database as well. It’s a bit last minute, but if I can get this done before I leave then I’ll be able to access the space from the UK as well.

Weather has been really pleasant since the rainy day, warm and sunny and the air is very clear and not humid at all. Getting a great sequence of photos of Mercury and Jupiter approaching conjunction, sadly I will miss the climax as they are closest together after I leave and they will be too low from the UK to see …

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Posted: Thursday, Oct 12, 2006 at 07:36 PM by jochta

Oct10

Incommunicado

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Been having a few technical problems over the last couple of days. I’m sure the whole of Mozambique’s internet traffic goes down one ADSL line! Anyway, finally bought the .mz domain, it isn’t active yet but hopefully it will be ready for when I have to demonstrate what I’ve been doing to the Director of DNG on Monday.

Yesterday was by far the worst day weather wise since I’ve been here. It was cold, wet and windy all day. Temperature was mid-teens, thoroughly miserable. Today was much nicer and not too hot.

Looking forward to finishing now and seeing the family, I’m still really enjoying it and we might go for a weekend trip to Xai Xai. I’m fantasising about ice cold fresh milk and decent breakfast cereal, I’m really struggling with the UHT muck and South African Kellogg’s cereal which is not a patch on the UK versions.

Got stopped by the police again this evening, but this time it didn’t cost me anything, they were very pleased to see I had an International driving licence. He gave me a lovely salute and wished me a pleasant sleep, all this while carrying an assault rifle!

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 10, 2006 at 08:22 PM by jochta

Oct08

Party!

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“What no blog last night” I hear you cry dear reader. Well, we got invited to a party by Lina Magaia’s husband in the next street held by some friends of his and my colleagues. And I may have got the teensiest bit the worse for wear!

So let’s start at the beginning. Yesterday morning we went to the Saturday market on Praca 25 Junho to buy gifts. I’ve got some great things but I won’t add spoilers here, I’ve got to go and pick one up this morning as he didn’t have what I wanted and he’s going to make me one ready for today! Prices are so cheap its ridiculous, I feel bad haggling for the odd 20MTn (about 40p)! And I did have a shadow for most of the time, a guy trying desperately to sell me some fridge magnets!!

So we got home for a bit of lunch and then went around to the party about 3pm which was already in full swing, food, wine, beer, music. And Lina’s husband was virtually comatose already! It was held by a French Canadian and his Madagascan wife, so we had a rare old mixture of Portugeuse, French and …

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Posted: Sunday, Oct 08, 2006 at 07:47 AM by jochta

Oct06

I Can’t Pronounce Baccaruda

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A funny old day. Just as I thought we were getting somewhere with the hosting and domain it turns out that my counterpart was supposed to write a letter explaining our requirements to the GovNet people, but he didn’t and now he’s gone to Dar es Salaam for two weeks. We could have sorted this all out three weeks ago but he decided to leave it to the last minute and he knew all along we had to do this. Grrrrrrr.

I had Barracuda for dinner tonight (hence title of blog - if you remember the song Summer Fun from 1980 you will know what this means). I don’t think I’ve ever eating anything as bland. Shan’t bother with that again!

Posted: Friday, Oct 06, 2006 at 06:53 PM by jochta

Oct05

Surf’s Up

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Very windy today, the sea was crashing against the road this afternoon with spray washing across, quite exciting!

Had my most successful day at work today, got to speak with the ministry and the government IT department about hosting the website I’m developing. It’s taken nearly 4 weeks to get to do it! I was expecting a long journey to the ministry as I was told we would need to drive, it turned out it was less than 500m from the DNG! I could see the building just down the road, less than two blocks away! It took longer to drive because of the one way system than it would to walk, I couldn’t believe it! The journey back from the university was even odder, I knew the quick way back but the guy I was with wanted to go to the bank first, so he directs me around Maputo for about 15 minutes, through traffic and down potholed roads etc. Eventually he asked to be dropped off, where were we? About 200m from the DNG building! Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh!

The ministry building was such a death trap, God help anyone in there if it ever catches fire, and with all the …

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Posted: Thursday, Oct 05, 2006 at 07:43 PM by jochta

Oct04

Namaacha

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Today was another public holiday in Mozambique, Peace Day celebrating the signing of the Rome Accord. We took ourselves off to Namaacha which is about 90km drive west of Maputo and is the border crossing to Swaziland. It’s pretty high up, 600m above sea level so a reasonable climb into hilly country, quite markedly different from the flat coastal plain around Maputo. We could see the city in the distance, the atmosphere was amazingly transparent today after the rain. The city was 54km away as the crow flys!

Namaacha’s only claim to fame is a waterfall mentioned in the guidebooks. A narrow tarred road took us down steeply to the site. In the past Namaacha was a popular spot for holiday homes for the Portugeuse living in Maputo. Since the war and they left the town has decayed, it’s very much a town past its heyday. Ruined buildings abound and the remains of what were large colonial houses were sited near the waterfall. It’s clear it used to be a popular spot, with huts, picnic tables and bridges, now all but gone and now a place where locals come and drink and have fun judging by the amounts of broken …

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Posted: Wednesday, Oct 04, 2006 at 08:17 PM by jochta

Oct02

Lina Magaia

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Across the road from our house lives Lina Magaia a pretty famous person in Mozambique. I met her a few days ago and she is good friends with my colleague. Tonight I met her husband and went to visit her in the school she set up for children orphaned during the war or through AIDS. A very lovely couple, if slightly eccentric, and the school is fantastic. We should be going for lunch to some friends of theirs with them on Saturday.

Storms threatening again tonight, I’ve worked out how to do long exposures using my camera and I’m desperate to get some lightning pictures!

Posted: Monday, Oct 02, 2006 at 08:13 PM by jochta

Oct01

Crush Crunch

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What a day! We knew something was happening in Maputo as the Avenida Marginal has been shut for days now. It turns out it was a huge music festival on the beachfront. I have never seen so many people, absolutely mental, even Monsters of Rock wasn’t this packed.

We decided to leave the madding crowds and head to a quiet hotel overlooking the city for a drink. The trouble started on the way home, we have to get to Costa do Sol which is effectively a deadend and there is only one way to get there. The road was completely jammed, cars all over the place. Most of the traffic problems being caused by idiots steaming down the road on the wrong side or on the pavement and not being able to get back in the queue preventing anyone from moving at all. It was starting to get dark, we’d been in the queue for about 1.5 hours now and there were a lot of drunken people around. A fight broke out next to the car as we were moving slowly downhill and a guy was thrown against the front nearside of the car and I ran him over, when …

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Posted: Sunday, Oct 01, 2006 at 08:48 PM by jochta

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