Friday, May 21, 2010

Mozambique trip, pt. 1

Got back from Mozambique Thursday. I kept a short-hand log and took a few pictures (probably not enough due to negligence). Here's what happened:

5/12/2010, 7 a.m., South Africa/Mozambique border near Nelspruit

After game lodge, flew back to CT. Lots of running around. Mom left, got Lil and Roberto settled in cottage, packed for Mozambique. KT and I did deliveries then left. Flew to JBurg. Bizarre cab driver talked our ear off. He was overbearing and racist, but gave us a good price so we set a date for him to pick us up at 4 a.m. on the morning we return. He claimed to be "old school" and a man of his word. We are pretty sure the old school he refers to is apartheid. Beers at bus station then onto bus. Jam-packed, uncomfortable, loud pop music, crying babies. Both of us in aisle seats. Terrible movie [turned out it was Book of Eli]. KT thinks at least a passenger or two has TB. Finally to border for 2 hour crossing, 5-7 a.m. while sun rises. They removed all comfortable cargo for inspection (pillows and comforters but no suitcases). Never really knew what was happening or why - no explanations given, but we eventually got put back on the bus. Visa worked successfully and we're in Mozambique. ~1 hour to Maputo.

11:27, Fatima's Backpacker Lodge

Off the bus and headed to lodge recommended by a friend. Got a bit lost, then got bearings and headed for Av. Mao Tse Tung. All streets seem to be named after socialist leaders, even the murderous dictator ones (Avenida Salvador Allende; the Robert Mugabe roundabout, etc).

Nice breakfast and changed some money. KT met problems changing US dollars -- "only 2006 series dollars." The next teller over then accepted the dollars from other series. This was a segue into a favorite pastime: making sarcastic quips about southern African bureaucracy (not that US bureaucracy is much better).

Got to Fatima's, sprung for room with personal bathroom and shower. Pink room that makes me want to vomit. Off to go explore, tired but refreshed by shower. Glad I brought a bar of soap at the last second.

Ugly pink room:

20:00, Fatima's Backpacker Lodge
Long day of wandering the city - just about all the way around. Nice city with some cool neighborhoods. Especially like the quiet residential ones -- lots of trees and shade. Stopped in museum of natural history. Lots of hilarious stuffed and plaster animal displays. Every animal was shown fighting another animal in a gruesome battle. My favorite was when the monkeys were being attacked -- they were created with a look of sheer terror on their faces. Excellent artistry and my kind of museum. Back to lodge for a long nap.

5/13, 8:45 a.m., coffee shop on Av. Mao Tse Tung

Out last night. First to a Portuguese restaurant that we'd been eyeing earlier. Delicious bread, meat, cheese -- got filled up before ordering. Split a mixed meat kebab with rice and beans and some kind of a grain salad. Really good.

Went in search of live music from there. Cab brought us to a really trendy spot, Gil Vicente. 3-person band, all percussion. Two xylophone-type things and a girl singing/playing shakers. Two excellent sets (though the songs ran together) while I had gin and tonics (someone once told me tonic repels mosquitos and I hoped to avoid malaria). Couple conversations, discovering that spanish or spanish with a fake portuguese accent gets the point across 75% of the time.

Stayed out for a while longer and found another bar. Looked up and randomly noticed that at ~2 a.m. the tv was showing the Yankees game at a random bar in Maputo! First live baseball game I've watched this season. Another highlight was at one point in the night when I came back from the bathroom and Kris was trying to teach a couple of girls to say "that's what she said" at appropriate moments. Their english was spotty at best, and it didn't quite work.

Home and sleep. Up early and coffee. Plans today: revolution museum, other sights, make plan to get car to head north tomorrow, more live music tonight hopefully.

5/14, 7 a.m., Fatima's in Maputo

Fought through tiredness yesterday to have a good day. Spent a while on logistics for the rest of the trip, deciding on renting a car from the airport today.

Then went to find the Museum of the Revolution once siesta time was over. Museum had been closed for what looked like years! Thanks, internet and guidebook.

Saw some other sights, including an all-steel building designed by Eiffel, a nice old-style train station, the central market where we bought some peri-peri cashews and some Mozambique music. [Both those items later proved vital for enjoying our trip up the coast].

All-steel building designed by Eiffel. Apparently it didn't work as a residence because it got way too hot in there. Who woulda thunk it.

Then to the Nucleo Arte, a highlight for me. It's a gallery with all local artists. Next door is a little cafe/bar. Then next door to that is a studio where the artists can work. One guy invited us in and with talked with him and this old grizzled-looking painter who was working. Won brownie points with him by having identified the painting from the gallery that was in his style. Also, he liked that I am from NY. Funny old guy.

Had some peri peri chicken on the way back.

Last night was a loss. Sat down to read for a while to rest and kill time before dinner/out. Next thing I knew, it was 11 pm and I was waking up. Had to get up early anyway to rent the car, so decided to just power through with sleep. Not one of my finer moments, but I now feel refreshed and ready to take on this drive up to Inhambane. Hopefully after a big breakfast.

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