First impressions

It was definitely a PLUS to be able to wait for my Mozambique visa while visiting Imran and Mikaela – of in Bamako, Mali, where I worked way back in the 1980s.  As well as the capital, there was time for revisiting magical medieval Djenne, hectic Mopti on the Niger river and to trek under the relentless sun in the Dogon country (by night under a canopy of stars on a flat mud roof).  Bamako was unrecogniseable, it has grown so big, including a government administration ‘city’ in the impressive soudanese style of architecture, bankrolled by Ghadaffi’s Libya….. hmmm

Market day in Djenne, Mali

Back to London for a day’s turnaround and, six or so weeks late, airbourne to Maputo at last.  Now I’ve been here for a week and notice that my walking pace has already reduced in speed by at least fifty percent!  By contrast my beer drinking capacity has increased by at least half, as I don’t like soft drinks, the filtered water tastes like ceramic, and the unseasonal freakish heat creates constant thirst – all meaning that a nice cold beer is the best solution at any time of day and the throng of streetside bars and cafes in the capital is one of the better legacies of the Portuguese.

The colleagues I was to have travelled with in February had all had six weeks of induction and Portuguese language training that ended last week – I only got the tail end of that, but my Portuguese has revived itself quite fast already.   I just got to visit (my) Ministry of Youth and Sports for a ceremony for new graduates who had been spending holidays as volunteers cleaning up their districts and trying to develop initiatives in their home areas instead of all pouring into Maputo in search of non-existent jobs.  The minister ended the event by breaking into a song of exhortation and getting everyone to join in the chorus! That says something about the spirit of people here.

I may be working some of the time out of the newly build ministry that faces Maputo Bay, and other days at an NGO centre.

View from entrance to Ministry of Youth and Sports

There are no clean beaches near town – you can see all the sewage pipes snaking into the deep.  But yesterday (Saturday) I got to visit a lovely one.  No easy access: train north to Marracuene, 2 km walk to jetty to find ferry broken, so cross to the island of Macaneta by rowing boats, then bump along in a trailer pulled by a massive tractor for 12 km of bird and lilly filled wetlands then deep sand to Jay’s place.   Jay is a no-nonsense green eyed South African grandmother who set up a resort in this peaceful spot.  Next time it will be to stay the whole weekend and really chill out!

Endless deserted beach at Macaneta

The food we got at Jay’s was brilliant… now she’s working on the provision of digestive hammocks.

Charcoal grilled prawns, chicken, cold beer..... (but no hammock)

So my first impressions of Maputo and Mozambique are of friendly and relaxed people who are quick to laugh and joke.  I’m reminded of Brazil, maybe it’s the language, the enjoyment of spontaneous live music, the smell of the ocean.

I’m still settling in, will be moving to another flat on 1 April, and am yet to start work – the above may give the impression I’m on holiday but that was just a Saturday!  The internet connection can be bad at times, especially skype, so I’m trying to be patient and making do with email and written skype chat.

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10 Responses to First impressions

  1. Roz Hudson says:

    Dear Pru
    I see your adventures have begun in true Lambert style. And how wonderful to have been able to spend time with Imran and Mikaela in one of your old haunts.
    Had very successful trip to Barbados – project all set up now. We’re off to Spain with Neil and Alex tmrow and then down to Dorset to try to get the place habitable.
    Look fwd to hearing more of Mozambique. Roz xx

  2. Kirsteen says:

    I’m glad that you have finally got there. Djenne looks fantastic – send some pics of Moz buildings to tempt me out! Life here is mainly grey but we have had a week of sun. It sounds like you will soon be yearning for snow, rain and clouds that cover the whole sky for days on end (NOT).

  3. Agnès - says:

    Dear Prue,

    Hey, nice you got the chance to enjoy Bamako back after all these years where we met in Badalabougou, Sogoniko and other street corners…
    As for Maputo if you happen to meet Marylène Spezzati : a kiss from me = she is also an ex-bamakoise (1981-82) and decidedly put an end to her UN carreer in Maputo.
    Otherwise everything is fine in Belgium.
    Still no Government after nine months… well the country is going fine thank to its citizens while politicians still at their own stupid highest degree.
    I am at buying a small house in the south, near the France border in a natural park : it will be my retreat place in ten years from now…
    Erwin is perfecting his artistic carreer, preparing for two festivals and one exhibition, tagging squats and for now staying with my African brother, who is spending sometime in Belgium between Congo and Togo, Senegal or Benin, handworking in his family house (he is God father to Erwin and my half Tutsi sister in law enjoy gathering all the teenagers of the family around her).
    Sunny and warmish spring here, before a good summer as it is announced and I will take my vacations in September, in Tuscania, with Erwin who will get the chance to admire the Giotto’s tags in Firenze…
    Hope we’ll got the chance to get news from you in Maputo & deep down South Seas and territories by then… Cheers –

  4. Marie-Jo says:

    SUPER !
    Effectivement la plage m’a tout de suite fait penser aux plages du Brésil où nous nous sommes rencontrées il y a XX ans. J’espère que tu es bien installée à Maputo et je ne doute pas que tu fais déjà partie de la communauté.
    Todo bom !! Bises

  5. Omar says:

    Wow great post, that deserted beach looks amazing! As does the food… I’m very jealous

  6. music cycles says:

    Wow sounds lovely! Reaching a beach from Bamako would be a much harder task than yours! But hopefully we’ll be able to chill once we reach Ghana… xxx

  7. Frida says:

    dear Pru what wonderful adventures, so nice to read about them in sunny London. we are off to visit the family in Puert Rico tomorrow, so that helps to control my envy of your gorgeous trips and new work environment. I love the Mozambican spirit! Enjoy! hugs Frida and fam

    • prumoz says:

      Hey Frida and Margarita, great to hear from you. Have a fabulous trip to Pto Rico and enjoy that ambiente with the ocean breeze! xx

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