2105 29 May
We crossed into Mozambique this morning around 4 am on a uneventful bus journey from Joburg. I was surprised at how well the management of the bus went, as they handed us tickets for our bags that went in the bag carriage and did counts of people on the bus at each stop. When we were here before we had only rode Intercape once or twice, but they have upped their performance since.
The border was just as rowdy as many other African borders we have crossed before. However there was much less cohesion as a bus group than er have seen at other borders. Usually we can just follow the crowd and get through but this time i had to enquire and i actually lead the entire group to the out-processing point on the South African side. Afterwards we trekked on foot across the birder but again this wasn’t marked out very well nor was there a steady stream of people doing the same. We were stopped by the military/police as we walked into Mozambique who took a look at our passports and after a little discussion allowed us to continue onwards. There seemed to be confusion over our visas which continued for me when i got to immigration. My passport was handed around, apparently to higher and higher ups before It came down that it was ok. Alisa on the ore hand breezed right through. Either these guys at the border don’t see many visas issued to Americans or the Mozambican Embassy in DC is giving out something new/different. Eitheer way this would not be the border crossing to attempt to get a visa. We’ve had friends who have done it (though their bus did end up leaving them at the border) however the lack of order would make me worry about having to do the paperwork to get one. The border was congested the entire time we were there and we figured this was due to it being a Friday night and everybody trying to get their goods to Saturday market. We waited a good while till the bus caught up with us and then bordered. It was now that my body decided that it was tired and I proceeded to fall fast asleep as we proceeded the short leg into Maputo.
We arrived at 0718, nearly an hour ahead of time. At this point I was starving and wanted to get to Fatima’s (our backpackers) for breakfast ASAP. Hassled by hawkers and taxi men as we sorted our bag and SIM card situation, we were not able to get through to Fatima’s line and ended up taking a R80 taxi ride the 8 block distance to Fatima’s. We got sorted there where I proceeded to crash until 12 when Alisa had to force me out of bed as my body (jet-lag +food poisoning) did not want to turn on.
Proceeding out with a bit of trepidation into a new African capital we made the 30 min walk down to the Catholic Church, the Iron House, and the Saturday market. Bought a balancing pelican (national bird) and proceeded into the old Portuguese fort near the bay front. None of these are what I would deem ‘sights’, but it was nice to be out exploring once again.
At this point my stomach decided that after 20 hours of no food that it would like a significant meal, Alisa found the Franco-portuguese cultural exchange center, which had a very simple cafe. After a sit and a drink of water for me, pineapple smoothies for Alisa we decided to press on and made the trek all the way across down to Mundo’s. This turned into an inspired decision because we arrived just 70 minutes before the massive Super 14 final. Its the cup competition between Austrailia, New Zealand, and South Africa that for years SA has struggled at yet was about to have it’s 3rd champion in 4 years as two SA teams were in the final in Soweto. This added to the atmosphere as the biggest rugby match of the year was being held in South Africa’s most infamous township (this was due to the fact that FIFA requires the hand over of all the World Cup stadiums 2 weeks out from the tournament thus forcing the #1 seeded Blue Bulls (hailing from Pretoria’ Loftus Verfeld to move to Soweto). The entire restaurant was taken over by South Africans as kick off drew near and after our meal we sat and enjoyed the rest of the match till the end. Afterwards we hopped a cab for 150 Mts (28 to 1 rate) back to Fatima’s.
Overall, we have found Maputo to be a straightforward place to get around, and the stares from locals as we walk about seem less than those in South Africa. We saw a woman just holding here camera by the wristband walking though the Saturday market like there was nothing to it. However, where Lonely Planet got ‘one of the most beautiful African capitals’ from is mysterious. The streets are filled with rubbish, the sidewalks uneven, broken, and in some places a whole section of cement just gone. None of the buildings are spectacular, nearly all are run down, and some on the verge of crumbling. Even the area by Mundo’s where there was a very high end hotel was nothing special.
Perhaps tomorrow will show something different.