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!

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