On my second day in Mozambique, Laurinda and I hopped on a chapa and ventured into the city. The chapa is incredible in a good and a bad way. A Chapa is essentially a mini van that has 4 rows of seats suitable for 11-12 people. It costs approximately a quarter (9MT)to take you into the city, however they are not marked well enough for any brazen tourist to actually know where they are headed, so I was very grateful to have Laurinda as my sidekick for the day.
|Laurinda and I in the Chapa before the crowd joined us!|
Now, whereas the chapa is suitable for 11-12 people, they actually crammed 25 people in our chapa at one point. There were people squeezed into the seats invading each other’s privacy and everyone was just okay with it. People were sitting on other people’s laps, standing hunched over in the front and even hanging out the windows. It was the epitome of a circus clown car, if I’ve ever seen one. It was amazing and I’m so fortunate to have gotten to experience it. The locals seemed shocked that I was riding it and I even received a love proposal from the navigator. Within 2 minutes of boarding, he was telling me he loved me and asked me if I had a husband, yet. Laurinda loved it.
Since, I don’t speak a lick of Portugese, I can only imagine that all of the passengers and the navigator were loving that there was a cracker on the chapa and that I was wearing a traditional capulana that I borrowed form Shirley. She was either embarrassed that I was a poser or happy to be out on the town with me rather than cleaning the apartment. I will pretend that it’s the latter.
The people at the local market loved my capulana. Everywhere we went, the locals were complimenting me on my local gear and were quite happy that I was making an effort to fit in. It really made me feel good. Our first stop was to buy a capulana of my own. I chose 2, one that I picked out and an ugly one that Laurinda picked out. They were only $5 each, so I purchased both, wore both at different times, then gifted the ugly one to Laurinda upon leaving Mozambique. She was so grateful for the gesture and that made me happy.
Mozambique is so colorful, from the fruit, to the dresses, to the fabrics lining the streets for sale. The women here are incredible. They carry the brunt of the work. They spend all earned money on food for the family and quite literally, carry the heavy load in a marriage. They carry baskets and tubs with 20-30 lbs of fruit, water, bundles of sticks and anything else their neck can hold on their heads, with no hands, while them men walk beside them carrying nothing. I was amazed at every turn, every ounce of my being wanted to photograph each woman I passed.
However, photography is tricky in Mozambique. First, it is illegal to photograph any police officers or government building. Being caught doing so will constitute confiscation of your camera or phone and a hefty fine or more likely, a steep bribe.
I was able to get a couple photos of these female warriors. Some were incognito photos while driving past and others were granted permission of in lieu of a small sum, about 30 cents. I was told that some Mozambicans do not like photographs. It’s their belief that a photograph takes away a part of your soul. They feel like they are being exploited by tourists, but mostly it’s a spiritual superstition, so I was conscious of that and hopefully, respectful mostly.
We had a great time with Shirley’s friends out on the town. We went to several happy hours, amazing dinners and karaoke. The food in Mozambique is delicious. It has a large Portuguese influence and beautiful flavors and colors.
|Elmer, Shirley and Emily at Dolce Vita Sushi|
|Live music at Dolce Vita|
|MaryJane and the charcuterie board at Taverna|
|Emily, Shirley and Alana...Doesn't this look oddly like a Lesbian adoption poster??|
|Doug and Elmer at Gil Vicente Karaoke|
|Elmer and Shirley|
|Emily and Sebastian|
|Great Lakes sweatshirt??? A sweet reminder of home.|
|Elmer, Shirley and Emily, complete with a photo bomb by Doug|
|Live Band Karaoke at Gil Vicente|
|Just an amazing tree that I found....|
|Sundowners at Hotel Cardoso|
|Statue outside of the train station|
|CFM station designed by Gustave Eiffle|
|Rue Do Bagamovo balconies look very French Quarter|
|Street of Trouble named for the pesky sailors that used to frequent this street for the bars, brothels and sex workers|
|Our Lady of Conception Fortress wall|
|Giant horse statue|
|All the statues are huge in Mozambique!|
|Sebastian, my city walk buddy|
|Mozambican head wrap #3, plus cannons|
|This Catholic Cathedral was built by alleged prostitutes in lieu of accepting large finds or jail time for indiscretions|
|Another giant statue in front of City Hall|
Having my wits about me, the following day, I decided to venture out on my own to the Faime (craft market). This market was amazing. It was filled with batik paintings, wood carvings, beaded creations, purses, capulana goods, and leather goods. It was amazing. The stall owners were sufficiently eager to have you look at their booths, but were gracious when you moved on. Everything was marvelous, the colors, the goods, the people. I wanted to buy so much stuff, but being a turtle, carrying my home on my back, that was impossible. Plus, it also didn’t help that my ATM card was eaten by a Standard Bank ATM machine in Komatipoort, South Africa, so I had limited cash that I had borrowed from Shirley.
|Hand crafted beaded safari heads - OMG, I wish I had a baby's room to decorate...|
|Hand-made woodwork, jewelry and crafts|
|Weaved bags and Capulana purses!|
|A purse tree....every girl's dream!!|
I ended up purchasing small things for my future home, some art, some small gifts for family and a leather bag made by a disabled woman at the very end of the market. She was skilled and pleasant and I was happy to purchase her goods.
|Purse lady hard at work|
|Amazing leather bag for only $40!|
My last day in Maputo, I ventured out solo again. I had Shirley drop me off at the Natural History Museum on her way to work. It opened at 8:30, so I killed time at a local coffee shop prior to going in. Once inside, I contributed 50MTs ($1.80) to the cause and walked through the door. It was incredible. It was a taxidermist’s wet dream…Impala, Kudu, lions, tigers, zebras, porcupines, rabbits, antelope and dozens of other stuffed game. There were life-sized replicas of giraffes, hippos, rhinos and elephants too.
|Again, it looks much larger in real life than in photos|
|Some of the work was quite graphic and gross|
Upstairs, there was an entire marine section with crocodiles, starfish, shrimp, fish, reefs and turtles. There was an entire room dedicated to creepy ass bugs and butterflies that were caught, preserved, labeled and pinned to boards for the sole purpose of education. Gross. There were bugs the size of my fist. Fuck me if I ever see one of those in person.
Prior to leaving, I went down to the back of the museum, the sole purpose for my visit. Mozambique has the only elephant fetus exhibit in the world. During the war, thousands of elephants were slaughtered. One scientist was smart enough to use that evil for good and collect elephant fetuses in each stage of gestation for learning purposes. It was amazing; a baby elephant takes 22 months to gestate inside its mother. It actually looks like an elephant at only 3 months. I kind of hate that it was so fascinating, but given that their mother’s were killed anyway, I’m glad that they produce some sort of education out of horror.
|Stages of Elephant gestation|
My favorite part of Mozambique, aside from my new friends, were the children. Shirley lived on a street that was the primary route for the school kids to pass. The schools are over-populated, so children attend in shifts offering me the joy of laughter and play 3 times a day! I loved them. 1:30 was my favorite time of day as a group of 4 girls would come home from school twirling and singing until they fell down....every day!
Thank you Shirley, Laurinda, Beverly, Ayanna, Elmer, Doug and Sebastian for such a lovely stay.