Thursday, February 24, 2011

Follow up: 11.02-20.02 First time driving a car in Maputo, Reggae Festival, Catembe & another way how to cross the river & how to carry living chicken

On Friday I was quite tired when I came home from work. Later on, I decided to go out.  I had to take advantage of the weekend. I wrote one of my neighbors from the zona  a text message and immediately received an answer that there’s a Reaggae Festival in the Franca-Mocambicano center. I already have been there once for a Marrabenta concert.
On Saturday I planned to chill at the beach at Costa do Sol but there were quite lots of clowds. Therefore I decided to go for a walk and wanted to try out some of the many shops. I walked along Avenida 24 de Julio until Polana Shopping Center. Then I walked until Avenida Eduard Monlane. It’s really strange that the shops are not open after lunch time on Saturdays! Polana Shopping Center is open, as well as Maputo Shopping Center and GAME where you can find anything but both of them are located in the Baixa. Polana Shopping is quite expensive and also doesn't offer much. At Kalus, the bar next to my house, I met occasionally Simba and Adao for a Coke. I never drank as much Coke as here in Mozambique. I am still not really sure what the reason is.  I guess it’s the mix of not having enough sugar in the food and the need of a refreshment after a hot day. If I buy a bottle on the street, I prefer buying  a Coke as here many people fill up the water bottle themselves and you cannot immediately see the difference.
Saturday night I planned to go out with friends but I was so tired that I decided to take a nap which took about until midnight. I only woke up because a friend called me. As I spent already quite a lot of time in my bed, I decided to meet up with him. We drove through the city not really knowing what to do. After some minutes he pulled over and asked me to drive. Well, I already thought I am used to the traffic system. I have to admit- I’m not. As soon as I was driving, I realized all the differences. In Maputo the road is separated which makes it a little bit easier to drive but as soon as I turned left I started to get panic. Thanks god it was night, a perfect start for my first drive.
Driving 40km/h feels actually quite fast as the roads have huge holes everywhere. Some are big enough to destroy the car. While driving I kept on searching for those huge holes and concentrated on keep on driving on the left side. We stopped at Costa do Sol where it's always busy at night. Everybody meets with the cars, listens to music and drink some beers. People sell the beer by using coolers. Actually all of my friends drink beer while driving, which is quite a funny experience too. 
Police... here… ! Police is just everywhere! I'm always afraid they will stop me and ask me to show my passport and my visa. We were just about to drive back to our zone, as police was about to pull me over. I got quite nervous when I realized that I have my passport with me and my international driver licence but my driver licence from Austria was missing. My friend kept on yelling: Melanie vai, vai (Melanie go, go) I passed them while they were giving me signs to stop. I would never ever do something like this in Austria or the US...  Later on, he explained me it’s better to pass them if I don’t have all the documents with me.  The next day he drove there once again to give them 100 Meticais. That is about the price you pay for 2 beers. It seems they write down the number and as soon as they see the car again they would stop it.
After this experience, I was in desperate need of a drink. We bought some beers (for him 2 M for me Hunters, a beer which has a sweet taste). His block, which is almost next to mine, is quite bigger than mine. I guess it has like 12 stories. We sat on the terrace of the roof. Like with most buildings here it is possible to go up until the top. From there we had THE perfect view over Maputo, Matola,  Katembe and the ocean. Under us, Avenida 24 de Julio. The view is breathtaking.
Sunday I spent quite spontaneously a day in Catembe, together with Mavo. Finally, I was at the beach for swimming.  Costa do Sol is quite nice but it’s quite dirty too. Catembe on the other hand is still a little bit dirty but it is prettier. The water is extremely warm. The ship to Catembe only costs 5 Meticais. This is the price I pay for a normal Chapa ride in Maputo and it only took us about 15 minutes. Leaving Maputo was amazing as we left all the big buildings behind us and went into direction Catembe.
From distance, Maputo seems like any other European city or a city in the US. But as I already know Maputo, I know that in the very deep inside it is nothing alike what I have ever seen. It's a pity that the city is quite dirty and the roads are in a bad condition. Nevertheless, I love the city that somehow never sleeps. 

Last Tuesday the bridge that connects Boane to Massaca was completely closed. In the morning we passed the bridge by foot, as every day. When we came back from work they arranged a ladder to climb down and we had to go through the river in order to arrive on the other side. WOW! You can imagine how the Mozambicans looked at me while I prepared myself for crossing the river. It actually had quite a lot of water too, a little bit above the knees. While entering I had all those thoughts in my head about the diseases you could get if you enter such a water in Africa, Crocodiles, bla, bla. As soon as i was IN the water I only concentrated on getting savely to the other side. The floor was quite slippery, but I made it as I don't know how many people watched every step of mine. 

Since some days the Chapas drive another way to Massaca which now costs 10 Meticais (before it was 5 Mtc).  In the morning I go by Chapa but in the afternoon after work I and Tia Julia from Boane walk the normal way until the bus stop. As there are no Chapas we walk and walk and walk. Until we see a car and ask for a ride. I guess most people only stop because I am white. This is what all the Tias say whom I work with. Therefore, when we're lucky I can sit on the back of a truck and enjoy the view. Also, people stare at me while we pass them as usually white people only sit inside of a car and never at the back where it's sometimes also a little bit uncomfortable. 

My latest experience where I had some difficulties was a dish we had at work. We had some chicken but here they cook everything of the chicken. It was my first time ever that I ate the foot of a chicken. Well, at least a little bit meat! Whatever has meat I am willing to eat... I appreciate meat a lot here. 
Another day we went to the brother of Tia Julia to buy chicken. Here you buy living chicken and transport them by holding their feet. You wouldn't imagine how much weight they have after walking a while. Also, I had a little bit fear that they could pick into my legs. Fortunately nothing the like happened.

Take care guys & beijinhos to all of you!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First hospital visit in Mozambique

Let me first start with the past weekend. On Friday I went quite early to bed, as I didn't feel very well. On Saturday I waited 5 (!!) hours for my brother to go out. Let me explain this in more detail.

In the afternoon I went to the gym which is in the neighborhood, it couldn't be better. The gym is not comparable to a gym in Europe or the US but I really enjoy being there. Also, a friend of mine is the owner of it which makes it even better. In the gym I meet all the people who live in my zone, which is very comfortable too.

After the gym, I talked to some neighbors and went upstairs to get ready as my brother was supposed to pick me up at 4:00 pm. I waited for half an hour without thinking about anything (I'm living in Mozambique where the clock is not always as important as in Europe...).. waited for another half an hour. The hours went by and I knew he's still in another town. At around 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm I was ready for some alcohol. I never waited that long for someone! My sister and I went for a walk to buy a coke nearby. Fortunately I met some friends at the shop Baiana, in the middle of the zone where people just meet. When I came back, I decided to stay with them and drink a beer. As my brother didn't show up I drank some more and decided to go with another friend to a Jazz Bar, called Gil. Before that we went to a restaurant called Piri-Piri and ate chicken. Gosh, since I am here I am so thankful whenever I can eat a piece of meat. The bar was nice. There was one guy with his guitar who sang really nice... it was more chilling and hanging around but I loved it.

Later on, a friend of mine called. He needed money as police stopped him, intoxicated. Now I will let you know a little bit about the police. He had way too much, police took his driver license and asked for 1,000 Meticais. For us this may not sound too much, as it's about 20 Euros but for a person living in Mozambique it's a lot. So I helped him out, as he promised me to give it back to me.

Some other experiences I already had with the police... I walked together with Anne in the Baixa, as police stopped us, asking for our visa. As I showed one police officer my passport including the visa, another police officer whispered into my ear: "Amor, amor". I couldn't do anything as they were very aggressive and also made fun of us. This is the best way you can handle the situation. Here it's normal to give money to the police, but in this situation I did not see any reason to give them money. Since this event I am kinda afraid of the police...

Well, back to my weekend story. At around 4:30 we walked back home, I met my brother in the appartment. We went straight to a party at his friend's place and came back at about 6:30. We didn't want to go straight to bed as this is about the time when our mother goes to church. Therefore we went up to the roof. I need to take a picture of the gorgeous view we had up there. 

On Sunday I met with my neighbor Simba. He took me to his wife's house and I got to know his two sons and the rest of the family. Then we went to Bairo Malangalene to Lola's place where we ate meat and Chima and hang around the whole afternoon. I really enjoyed it.

Yesterday I had quite a bad day. The day before I went with a friend to Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). I was happy like a child when I ate chicken with fries. Oh, I forgot to mention that we took the meal to the beach and ate it there. But yesterday my stomach felt quite weird and all of a sudden I had to puke. I was lucky that not all of the kids watched me, but some did.

One of the tias took me to the hospital in Massaca, were they made a Malaria test. Luckily, I'm negative which is good cause I already had about 20 Mosquito bites since I am here. The doctor gave me some medicine and I think it already helps a bit. At work I was able to sleep a bit over lunch time, which i was very thankful for. It still feels a bit weird, but it gets better.

The gym is something I really enjoy after work, I have been everyday so far. It's 10:00 pm right now and in the small bar next to our building they celebrate very traditional a birthday. All of them are singing. Sounds like they have a lot of fun.

My plans for the upcoming weekend is a breakfast at a friends place- he has cornflakes and milk!!!!!!!! Yiiiiha... and hopefully finding a post office (didn't imagine that it could be that difficult) and hopefully I'll make it this weekend to the beach!

Love, Melanie

Friday, February 4, 2011

Being a Mulungu in a Mulandi's world

In this region here there are two dialects spoken, Ronga and Changana. I personally know more people who speak Changana. I didn't have the chance yet to learn much as I am still learning Portuguese. Also, Changana is very hard to understand and to pronounce. Two words were very important, since the first day I'm here. 

Mulungu - white person
Mulandi- black person 

In Namaacha there were also some people who yelled Mulungu when they saw me but it was seldom. In Massaca where I work since two weeks it's completely different. It seems like I'm the first white person they ever saw. The whole thing gets worse if they point with their finger on you and yell: ''Mulungu, Mulunguuu''. But, to be honest with you.. you get used to it. Your character develops more as you need more courage to walk in a self-conscious way. No matter whom you pass, everybody looks at you. Men especially check you out wherever you are. There is a big difference though, between the city and the countryside. Here in Maputo, people look quite normal at you. Obviously, you look like a tourist and they sell you everything for a higher price than they would sell it to a about the principle that the price is only higher due to the fact that I'm white. 

But here in the city it's easier, as men only look at you because they think whites are attractive. On the countryside everybody stares at you or calls you Mulungu. 

Right now I need 2 hrs one way to reach my workplace. I drive with a small bus where about 14 people or more (depending on the bus size) fit in. Usually there are way more than 20 people in the bus. They push everybody in there and even if you think there is no more space they will get more inside. I already stopped counting the people. At 6:00 AM I leave the house and walk a little bit until I take my first Chapa to Avenida Guerra Popular. From there I take another Chapa to the Baixa. From there the Chapa to Boane leaves. One short Chapa ride costs 5 Meticais which is 0.11 Euro cents.  15 Meticais (0.34 Cents) is the price for the ride from Maputo Baixa to Boane. Unfortunately I don't know how many km that are but it's about 40 min. 

Obviously, if you stop at every Barraje (bus stop) it needs much more time. From Boane I have to walk until the bridge. The bridge was about to crash down and as we have raining season and quite a lot of water too, they fortunately decided to fix the bridge. It's about a 20 min walk until the bridge. From there on I take another Chapa to reach Massaca and the center I work. 

Sometimes this whole travelling is quite exhaustive. Sometimes I just love it. In the Chapa you meet new people, get some new phone numbers and sometimes find new friends. People here aren't ashamed of anything. It's just normal to hand your baby over to somebody else who has a seat. 

Sometimes I come home from work, tired from studying with the children, playing soccer at lunch time when it has around 39degrees Celsius. And then, if you walk through a village like Massaca and Boane where I don't know anybody but everybody makes fun of me, I feel like shit. 

After such a day, I come home and my only wish is to be black. I know, that these people from the villages are just excited to see a white person. But for me it sometimes doesn't feel good. 

This is why I love to live in Maputo because here I'm quite more accepted. 

This week I have been twice to the beach by nighttime. I love Maputo for its diversity. Me and Anne went with some friends there, drank some beer and walked at the beach and watched the skyline from Maputo. 

In my zone I already know quite a lot of people. In my neighborhood there are many young people, and you always meet someone new. Here it's quite easy to get to know people. I cannot imagine something like that happening in Austria. 

I need to upload pictures soon, right now my time is up!
Have a nice day,

greetz from Maputo (32 degrees)