Lost, not yet found: Three Weeks of a hazy nature. Notable characteristics: drenched in sunshine, possibly drunk. They meander about beatifically but are also capable of vanishing in a blink of an eye if not watched closely. If anyone out there knows of or has seen Three Weeks matching this description, I would be delighted if you could return them to me, intact.
Gosh. How quickly the time seems to fly. I hardly believe I’ve been in Maputo for nearly a month. It feels like I arrived yesterday…. or months ago, at the same time.
So I thought it was about time for some reflections. I had dinner with some Mozambican friends of my Portuguese flatmate, Carmen, last night. And they asked me what my expectations had been of the place before I arrived.
I was really honest with them. If there is one thing in particular that has surprised me about Maputo, it is how sleepy a city it is. And I’m not just talking relatively to other capitals in this part of the world. It just oozes leisure….
People stroll in Maputo. There is no sense of hurry or tension or fear which keeps people off the streets in other capital cities in this part of the world. It is, despite or perhaps because of its abundant nightlife, decidedly tranquil.
It sounds absurd but sometimes, occasionally, whilst strolling round my neighbourhood in the late afternoon sunshine, I sometimes feel like I might be in a Disney Movie.
Allow me to explain:
Sunshine – CHECK!
Birdsong – CHECK!
Massive flappy butterflies – CHECK!
Bougainvillea flowers drifting artfully to the ground – CHECK!
I jest, of course. I don’t know how many Disney movies were also scattered with rubbish, intense poverty, flagrant corruption, and a profound sense of injustice. Because they are also all things which characterize this city.
However, to get back to my original point…
Maputo is, despite the aforementioned problems (and more), a highly agreeable city, not to mention being surprisingly attractive with a noticeably laid-back vibe.
The Mozambicans agreed wholeheartedly with this observation.
“In Maputo, you enjoy the view. Fique a vontade. (Feel free/ Make yourself at home).”
Indeed, I’ve certainly never been to any other capital city where you can actually see THE STARS at night (this is thanks to the lack of street lighting). That was one revelation.
Another revelation was waking up at five in the morning to hear a cockerel crowing. I live downtown for God’s sake. I bloody LOVE this place. (For those of you who don’t know I have a thing about chickens… please, don’t ask.)
So to conclude this rambling, highly questionable and completely romanticized post, I should like to encourage ANYONE, and absolutely, EVERYONE who is considering visiting Maputo be it for holidays or to study abroad, to just do it. It’s a pretty cool town.