My oh so lovely friend Maggie sent me an email the other day, telling me about a friend’s experience of traveling through Mozambique in the 80s or 90s. His tale included several riveting stories about hobnobbing at secret parties in Maputo with Soviet ambassadors and the KGB. Glory and great stories are garnered from risky travel, but I have realized there are some adventures that I don’t seek out.
I have yet to encounter myself surrounded by any KGB thugs, and for all the past Soviet presence in Mozambique, I must say I have yet to meet a Russian here or even see any lingering indication that they once had their finger in the pot at all. Perhaps the only real Soviet marker that I have noticed is an occasional massive construction truck that looks like it came blasting out of Mad Max 50 years ago.
I am not living in a bubble and there are certainly some risks that are taken here. I have walked around Maputo alone and hitched rides to work and around town with strangers, but I’ll be the first to admit that I hardly flirt with real danger.
I imagine that there is this underbelly to Mozambique that I have yet to scratch. As intrigued I am by the prospect, I’ve never really been one who was good at finding a culture’s real gritty, interesting backstreets. The ability to travel more securely and discreetly in third world countries is often reserved for men. As a tall, white, freckled, red head I hardly blend in with the locals (say, unless I happen to be in Scotland). Freud would hardly be able to control himself while I say this, but when I think about this aspect of travel and society that I am cut off from, I do admit a slight tinge of penis-envy.