From the moment we got on the bus with direction Maputo we understood that the vibe in Mozambique would be different. Maybe it was the familiar Portuguese language or maybe the relaxed attitude of its people. For sure we did not expect what we found once in Maputo.
Maputo even though the capital of Mozambique, it is not the typical coastal African mess. For sure there was a lot of sand in the road but not dirty. We compared it to a Mediterranean city probably during the ‘70s. In fact it could be as Athens was a lot of years back. There were no electrical fences outside of the houses nor big walls, people were walking in the streets until late at night, and kids were playing in public gardens and the neighbourhoods. We felt safe to walk around and we felt welcome.
Probably huge role in this good impression we had, had the fact that we were also hosted by the Orthodox Bishop of Mozambique, Bishop Ioannis. Now wait. I don’t know if you ever had the chance to really share some moments with a priest, but we hadn’t. Our impression about orthodox priests was that they were very distant in the way of thinking from the “modern” way of thinking. However, Bishop Ioannis surprised us with his big heart and with how not even close to conservative he was! We have never met someone with such love in his heart as him and at the same time so funny in his typical Greek manners .the hospitality we received we will never forget!
As we spent our days going around in the city we noticed the link of Mozambique to Communist principles through the names of its streets: Mao Tse Tung Avenue, Lenin Avenue, Marx Avenue are the ones we explored more.
In Mao Tse Tung you will find all the embassies, while the good things happen later on in 25 de Septembro Avenue. This road is winding down the coast with palm trees adding to the exotic view. At night it becomes a party spot. Fast food canteens, people selling chips and soft drinks cater to the needs of the locals who sit and chat at the promenade with their cars parked and music playing loud from the speakers in the trunks.
Like any other big African city, Maputo has markets of fruit, vegetable and local handicrafts, as well as nice colourful bags and clothes made out of the materials the local women wear as skirts.
What is really unique is the fish market. Some good huggling skills can get you some nice fish, crabs, prawns and seafood fresh from the sea. Among the crowd that surrounds you, the guys from the taverns behind the market will approach you eager to cook the catch for you. In a few hours, you end up with everything grilled with garlic and lemon sauce and of course with a fully satisfied stomach. What a feast!
Maputo is also full of pastelerias (or pastry shops) where you can get the local pastel de nata (sweet pastry with cream) and many more sweet temptations.
We are lucky enough to be in Maputo on a Sunday morning and watch typical Mozambican weddings where friends of the couple that is getting married sing and dance non stop outside of the Palacio de Matrimonio.
The local music is the Marabenda, a mix of latin and African sounds. During a unicef concert in the Franco-Mozambique cultural centre, we watched the big local singers performing for the children. The auditorium was full and we all really enjoyed it.
Although it is a big African city, Maputo has a special meditteranean vibe that attracted us a lot. After spending 5 days there, it is time to move to the beautiful beaches further north J
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