FIRST REACTION

I like to spend some time in Mozambique

The sunny sky is aqua blue

And all the couples dancing cheek to cheek...

But did Bob Dylan ever come here?

COUNTRY AND REGION

You have landed about 120 miles north-east of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, and 55 miles from the capital of the Gaza province, Xaixai.

NEAREST SETTLEMENT

The village of Ginabai, in the province of Gaza, is a few minutes walk away. The nearest town (about 55 miles away) is Xaixai (pronounced Shy- Shy), capital of Gaza, on the Limporo River.

NATURE OF THE TERRAIN

A moist, savannah woodland.

ALTITUDE

Between 0 and 100m.

LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS

Be prepared to sweat: temperatures are rising and rain has been bucketing down since September. Escape further inland if you want cooler temperatures.

USEFUL LANGUAGES

In Gaza province, you will find mostly Shangen and Tsonga-speaking people. Although Portuguese is still the official language in Mozambique, actual speakers of Portuguese tend to be the old or the very young, as everybody else had their education interrupted by the 17-year civil war which ended in 1992.

TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

Joaquim Chissano has been president of Mozambique since October 1994.

POSSIBLE HAZARDS

Land-mines are probably the greatest danger, especially if you are planning to wander off into rural areas. It has been estimated that there are more than one million unexploded land-mines in Mozambique. Although some minefields have warning signs, most are unmarked. It is highly recommended to seek local advice before going anywhere outside a village or a town, and to stay on the main roads where other people have obviously gone before. Watch out also for armed robberies, as there are a lot of guns in Mozambique.

REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND

Ginabai is surrounded by two national parks, Zinave and Banhine, which now contain more land-mines than animals. (They are being rehabilitated.) Otherwise, head for the coast: Ginabai is not far (around 50 miles by road) from the most beautiful beaches on the east coast of Africa, superb for diving, snorkelling, sailing and fishing. Meanwhile, down in Maputo, restaurants and new shops are opening, hotels are being refurbished, nightclubs are reawakening and streets are being cleared and repaired.

GETTING THE HELL OUT OF HERE

From Ginabai, catch a bus to the nearest village, Chicomo (about five miles from Ginabai), then take the train from Chicomo to Xaixai (that is another 50 miles), and another train to Maputo (another 95 miles). Air Portugal and Air France fly from Maputo to Europe three times a week, but it is much cheaper to fly to Johannesburg and then buy a ticket to Europe from there.

Compiled by Muriel Desaulles

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