I went down to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, for a few days last week. Rather than deal with the hassle of vehicle papers, I left my bike in South Africa (White River, at the house of a motorcycling friend I met in South Africa a couple of months ago) and headed to Mozambique by the minibus taxis that all the black people use.

Mozambique has been in civil was for much of the last 20 years, so the infrastructure is creaky to non-existent. Water is only available in Maputo for half the day, as they lose too much underground otherwise. Power cuts are frequent.

However, it is very cheap (you can be a millionaire in Mozambique with $100), and the people are very friendly, and the city is safe, more so than most cities in South Africa. I traipsed around to the University to see the state of Internet in the country - they have moved from an analog 9600 baud line to Jo’burg to a 64K leased line very recently.

They have dialup access - and there is no other internet service available in Mozambique. Ripe opportunity there ..

Nightlife was good. The bars and nightclubs were full of roving ladies looking for someone to buy them drinks and spend the night - jobs are scarce in Maputo.

There was a theatre festival on the Saturday, with many of the countries of southern africa taking part. Inevitably for Mozambique, the police and army were much in evidence, carrying submachine guns as if they were cocacolas. There was some excellent dancing by a team from Mozambique, but much of the first day was taken up with parades and the like. It was a four day festival, but I could only be there for the opening.

I stayed at a backpacker lodge, and bought some very fine examples of the wire bicycles the kids make - with functional pedals that turn the back wheels.

Business is improving steadily in the country - much of it funded by private white South Africa, but there is a long way to go. Roads in the central and northern parts are practically non-existent - when the Portuguese pulled out they left very little in place, and sabotaged some facilities like hotels, pouring concrete down the toilets ..

Police stop you and try to find things wrong with your papers - to give them an opportunity to take bribes.

Cheers, Andy!