After last night’s storms the morning dawned cold, wet and windy. The drive into work was punctuated with swirls of sand blowing against the car, a fallen palm tree and huge puddles. From this I drove my colleague to the airport for her trip to two of the regional offices in Tete and Chimoio. The temperature in Tete, which wears the badge of hottest town in Mozambique and not for its nightlife, was 42C.
So began my first solo drive in Maputo, I knew the way – the city is built as a grid – I was careful, I was vigilant over the junctions where the traffic lights were out, I kept below 50kph. But as I drove down the hill into the city centre I could see the police standing either side of the carriageway, letting motorists past. I knew what was coming. Single white guy on his own? Let’s pull him over. A quick check of paperwork and my almost zero Portugeuse saw me right this time. We have all been stopped once each, the full set!
I still went to work in a T-shirt, but it was amusing to see the local workers huddled in pullovers and coats indoors, it was still around 22C but this is a very cold day in Maputo!
Here are some new videos for your enjoyment…
A walking tour of the house (9.3Mb DivX Movie)
My room (2.8Mb DivX Movie)
The botanical gardens (1.6Mb DivX Movie)
If you’re having problems watching the videos you will need to download and install the DivX codec from DivX for Windows. It is free and painless.
Eventually got around to watching V for Vendetta tonight. What a cracking film. Will definitely be watching that one again.
African storms, you gotta love em! You haven’t seen a thunderstorm until you’ve seen the African version. Tonight we had an example of what can be done with static electricity. We walked to the local resturant in cloudy conditions, but while we were eating, kaboom! Lightning so close you could feel it, thunder so loud you couldn’t hear anything else! Still flashing away in the distance now about 3 hours later, and the wind is gusting gale force. I’m writing this on the balcony looking out over Maputo hoping to see some more close lightning so I can get some pictures or movies.
Today we went into town to look at the sights, of which there are few. We saw the Casa de Ferro (Iron House) designed by the French engineer Eiffel and made of prefabricated metal parts. Also the Jardim Tunduru (Botanical Gardens) which were beautifully neglected, they reminded me of the scene in Logan’s Run where they visit Washington after nature has taken over. We then went to the Museu Nacionel des Artes (Modern Art Museum) which had some bizarre modern art pieces, Post-it Note pictures for example, and some lovely local pieces. Photography not permitted unfortunately. Probably the oddest sight of the day was the Louis Trichardt Memorial Garden, in tip-top condition in the middle of abandoned housing and rubbish. A strange 1960s memorial to a Great Trek leader on the spot where he is supposed to have died of Malaria, a piece of apartheid chic surviving in downtown Maputo.
We gave the Catholic Cathedral a miss although we walked close by, completed in 1944 the labour to build it was recruited by the authorities by picking up teenage girls off of the streets of Maputo and examining them to see if they were virgins or not. If they weren’t it was assumed that they were prostitutes and as a fine they were made to help build the cathedral. You couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to) make it up!
And on that cheerful note, I will bid you good night, and check back tomorrow for pictures of today’s visits.
We drove out of Maputo for the first time today looking for the home of a famous artist which has a restaurant and is open to the public. Unfortunately we didn’t know the address and after driving around randomly for a while we stopped at a pool bar for lunch and to ask directions. When we did ask it was apparently ‘too difficult’ to explain! We have since found the location on the internet so maybe we’ll go back.
It was interesting to see some of the country outside the capital, some very poor areas of shanty housing. This is after all one of the poorest countries in the world, it is hard to remember this when you see so many well to do people in Maputo.
I’m feeling much better today as you may have guessed, looks like a 24 hour malaise hopefully.
And it was going so well. Too much good living? It hit my stomach this morning and the DNG building is not ideal for having to rush to the loo as there are 16 flights of stairs to run up or wait for ever for the rickity lift. The other issue is the possible side effects of Lariam, I’ve never had a problem with it before but this morning I burst into tears for no reason whatsoever, very odd.
Work was a bit rubbish today as well, as we had no internet connection for most of the day and all the code examples I wanted to use were online, it is also very dull just programming without being able to nip into MSN or irc occasionally.
Feeling a bit better this evening if tired. Time for a lie in tomorrow morning I think.
I did manage to grab a quick video whilst I was at work today, this is a panoramic view from the 9th floor of the DNG building looking North.
View from the 9th floor of the DNG (1.5Mb DivX Movie)
End of week 1 readers and all is well. As I may have mentioned before the food here is excellent. We have now managed seven different restaurants, which I will summarise below…
1. Siam Smile – Chicken Pizza – Service very slow, poor Rock Shandy most disappointing meal to date. Won’t be going there again!
2. Local Restaurant – Pork and Beef Kebab – Very tender meat, short walk from house. TV with Portugeuse football. Nice and easy to get to.
3. Sagres – Pepper Fillet Steak – Absolutely amazing food, lovely setting on the beach front. Delicious Rock Shandies.
4. Italian – Pasta with Bacon, Mushrooms and Cream – Very low chairs and table, pet rabbits grazing on the lawn. Lovely food.
5. Scorpio – Pork Steak – More like gammon, disappointing and tough. Nice setting though.
6. Waterfront – Ostrich Fillet – First vegetables and absolutely delicious. Live music next to the pool. Superb.
7. Costa do Sol – Chicken Fillet – The place to be seen in Maputo, very famous. Food very average.
And we still have many more to try, we haven’t been to the Indian or Chinese yet!!
I was going to write today’s blog about driving in Mozambique anyway but we had an amusing episode on the way back from the Waterfront restuarant this evening which made it even more apt!
I had a fantastic Ostrich fillet by the way. With chips and vegetables, washed down with two pints of 2M beer, all for £8.
On the way back we got stopped by the police. My colleague, who doesn’t usually drink, was driving. After some checking of paperwork he realised she was Spanish and a verse of Viva Espana was sung! After checking our passports he decided a ‘fine’ of 200 Metacais was in order (about £4) this was for a cold drink as he was very thirsty apparently!
We had a good chuckle, wished them well and said we’d see them tomorrow night!
The roads are pretty good, some big potholes, the main problem is the local drivers who either drive like complete loonies or tootle along at 20mph like they’ve never driven before. I’ve quite enjoyed the driving, the city centre isn’t too manic, just plenty of stop signs and invisible traffic lights which are ignored by the minibuses anyway.
Here is a snippet of the drive into work starting from outside the house, showing the sea and palm trees. Beats driving past Didcot power station every morning!
Part 1 of the drive to work (5.5Mb DivX Movie)
Communication channels are systems nearly all go. Skype works but connection drops frequently, it’s nice to see the family albeit briefly! Mobile works for incoming calls and texts but getting a call out is very difficult, only managed it once. Chatted to my brother in New Zealand this morning on MSN which was great.
Speaking to my Mum as I write this via Skype and messages being relayed by phone in the UK! In the office we have internet connection which does drop occasionally and isn’t fantastically fast. But overall being able to keep in touch is a vast improvement over my last trip to Zimbabwe where it was the occasional letter delivered a week or more late from Harare to the caravan in the sticks!
We have dialup from the house which is very expensive, £32 for two months with the calls on top of that, and all for 28.8Kbps!
I hope to be able to video the drive into work tomorrow and get that onto the blog as it is beautiful, especially with the sea as calm as it has been the last couple of days.
First day of work today, although the guy I am going to be working with was busy so we’re meeting tomorrow. The office is good, a bit run down and the toilets are grim and it’s a long way to the 9th floor if you want to avoid using the lifts! Got my laptop set up on the network and internet access so that’s good. Spent the day playing around with some dynamic website examples to show my counterpart tomorrow.
One thing I have found is how excellent the food is here, there is no way I will be losing weight! We had fresh pasta this evening in an Italian, yesterday I had a most excellent fillet steak. And pretty reasonably priced too, a meal with drinks is around the £6 mark.
You will notice that I added a video to yesterday’s entry. Here is another one for your enjoyment!
View from the house balcony (1.7Mb DivX Movie)
Had a fairly lazy Sunday, went into town to a bar to watch the Italian GP, my colleague is Spanish and a big Alonso fan, what a shame he blew his car up . After this we walked from the house up the coast to Costa do Sol, a 30s art deco bar and restuarant which has “welcomed dignitaries like the Swazi Royal family and the entertainer Tom Jones” according to the blurb on the menu. Sunday afternoon after payday is cruise along the strip and party on the beach day! Hundreds of locals letting their hair down, music blaring from their car stereos, driving around and just hanging. Barbecues on the beach, football matches. Very vibrant and exciting! Even saw a minor road accident, with a door ripped off one of the local minibuses (chapa), lots of arm waving but all sorted within seconds!
Cruising on the Costa do Sol (1.8Mb DivX Movie)
Saturday evening on my first full day in Mozambique. We went to the market outside the office where I will be working, absolutely masses of African crafts. All my gifts and Christmas shopping sorted later in the trip! Afterwards we went to the supermarket for supplies, they have Kelloggs cereals so got some Frosties, Cornflakes and fresh milk! Stocked up on beer as well. We stopped for lunch at a beach café which was very pleasant once you get used to ignoring the street hawkers. Has been warm but pretty breezy, so not oppressive at all. Check out the latest photos in the gallery…