Maputo, Moçambique!

Hey, I'm back! Moçambique was amazing. Note that it is still pronounced the same as "Mozambique" when spelled "Moçambique" -

I guess I'll start at the beginning - this post will be about the Capital City of Mozambique... we were there three times so the pictures are not all from the same day...

Jodie and I flew into Maputo on 5 March. Maputo is actually a huge, sprawling, humid, stinky city but none of my pictures reflect that somehow. The old part of the city though is quite nice with a lot of trees and broad open streets. We stay in the area around Eduardo Mondlane Blvd, which is near the beach front and has lots of embassies and consulates. The streets are in horrible shape - bomb damage from the civil war has not been repaired, and the city is on soft sand which is clearly creeping around and making its way up the cracks, further undermining the concrete. Rural highways are in great shape however.

So anyway, between the airport and the downtown is sort of high density market/suburb/informal settlement residential space - masonry houses are crowded together with lean-to shacks and there are a lot of people and an assortment of livestock. Things are for sale everywhere, including some beautiful hardwood furniture and doors which come from the central/northern coast, and this lovely muffler tree:

The following morning, we went to the Moçambique DNG. There was no electricity at the building so people were just sitting around in their desks, chatting on cell phones and sending SMS (aka text messages). Naturally it was obscenely hot and humid and we had to see people on the 10th floor, then 2nd, then 4th, then 2nd, then 10th, etc etc. We bought one of the maps we needed but couldn't get the other as they didn't have a hard copy and the power was out. Director Daudi was very nice and helpful and I had the feeling that his direction was very important to the future of the DNG as it evolves/matures. Mozambique is very mineral rich and it seems like a race to bring the level of professional expertise/control in the country to the point where it can hold its own against sophisticated mining conglomerates who are knocking from all directions. Many large new projects are underway - a new giant mineral sands mine is opening in the next few months - one of the world's richest mineral sands for Titanium.

The view down from said 10th floor shows some of the features of the city - very Portugese/European garden squares - This photo also shows the old fort from which the river mouth was defended in the earlier days of the colony - we didn't hire an English speaking guide here so unfortunately I can't tell you anything about it. No signage.

Somehow my city photos have managed to completely omit the grit - Here's another view from the DNG offices of a cathedral or something - there are angels and Marys and Bartolomeu Diaz ("discoverer" of the cape) and Luís Vaz de Camões (poet) statues, bronzes, marble, everywhere in the city - anyway, in the left foreground you can see a bombed-out shell of a fancy colonial structure - these are all over the city - some have been reoccupied, some few are under repairs - most are just slowly falling in on themselves...

On our next stop through Nampula, Jodie and I explored a bit more and waited for Lee-ann (Jodie's Honours Student from Stellenbosch) to fly in. We went down to the beach! Even though the recent spate of cyclones left the waters pretty muddy, it was quite beautiful:
I spent some time chatting with a kid who was from Johannesberg, visiting cousins - he told me, "America has a dirty coast and a clean coast. The dirty coast is New York. The clean coast is Las Vegas". Heh heh.

We chilled out with a pitcher of sangria...

Snapped this one from a moving car (Jodie continually making fun of me for doing that). I'm not sure what these are called, because they're not really what the women wear - Mozambiquan ladies wear wraps (as long skirts usually) made from brightly coloured fabric with HUGE printed motifs, sometimes also a border- supposedly they originated from bolts of fabric intended for table clothes for Portugese tables but the look took off and now it is certainly home grown, with large portraits of Samora Machel being a popular pattern. They're heavier than a sarong, more like quilting cotton, and they're called Ca' polana (as in, "house of Polana", Polana was a chief or something). Given that the ones in this photo bear the images of African animals I think they were made to appeal to tourists, as Mozambiquans (in my brief experience) show a strong preference for Coca Cola and Vodocom motifs.

Phew, finally out of the city. I'll post next about the rural Lebombo Mountains, and more about Samora Machel....


amber said...

Glad you are back- have been missing you and meaning to catch up!


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