Its very noticable that the country has a long history of invasions. No church or monastry that is not fortified and strategically located. Georgia still feels threatened, not without reason. The last few centuries by Russia, its mighty neighbour to the north. Georgian orthodox faith functions as a rallying point, helping Georgians retain thier uniqueness.

Namibia: animals, dunes and Germans. About 200 times the size of the Netherlands, with 2 1/2 million inhabitants, of which half live in a small strip of 50 kilometres against the Angolan border, that is one big empty country. It does have the oldest dessert, and the highest sand dunes on earth, as well as the Big 4. But also a history of mass murder, apartheid and exploitation by the German colonial rulers. And although the country aims for equality without distinction by race or colour, large parts of the land and the economy are still in hands of German descendants.

Good news for every-one who thinks every Arab wears a bomb-belt. Visit Oman. Authentic Arabian. Lots of sand, sweet dates, oasis, fortresses, old souks, weapons market, men in long white robes, women in all concealing black cloaks, traditional wooden dhows, very friendly people and no war. Traditon and the modernity go hand in hand.

 

Everything in these two emirates of the U.A.E. seems superlative, the biggest, highest, most expensive of the world. Architects of world renoun have a field day here. A huge contrast with the old souks. The only emirati one sees are leisurely shopping. Otherwise its just foreign workers. In contstruction, services, health and other care, trade, transport, as porters and as doctors. Emirati live in luxury. The state pampers them from the cradle to the grave. The foreign workers are poorly paid, have few social and other facilities, often have to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. This we often forget when gaping at the wealth and extravagance in these emirates.

For years Mozambique was ravaged by a devastating civil war. One of the consequences has been that many youth have had little or no education. Although the economy is now growing, there is much unemployment. Off course disadvantaged children are most effected. Youngsters who have had an education want to go to college, and at least land an office job where one doesn't have to get dirty hands. It's a matter of status. A pity, as there is a shortage of skilled craftsmen. Young Africa, a development ngo set up by some Dutch people, is trying to fill this gap by setting up vocational training centres. Striking is the number of girls choosing traditonal male professions.