06.16.2008 - 06.19.2008
By the time the plane touched down in Maputo, we were pretty tired, having only slept a couple of hours. This certainly contributed to our first dose of culture shock, which happened as we exited the terminal into a mass of people all vying for our bags. Of course, there was no need for anyone to take our bags as we had nowhere to go, not having booked a hotel. Will managed to buy a Blá Blá phone card (Moçambiquans have a certain sense of humor) and we proceeded to call most of the cheap hotels in our guide book, all of which were booked. Yikes! We ended up deciding to go to an overpriced business hotel, ‘cause we were just too tired to keep trying. We spent the next couple of days taking care of business—that is buying our first sim card for our phone, figuring out transportation to our next destination, and other research. Euro cup fever continued strong. Our big splurge was going to a restaurant a little outside of town, called Costa do Sol, where we ate the most amazing grilled prawns, Moçambique’s signature seafood dish. With it we had our first Moçambiquan piri piri, the chili sauce accompaniment that is ubiquitous here…as is “2M,” Moçambiquan lager.
Maputo, the capital of Moçambique, like most big cities, has a mixture of expensive tourist hotels, places where the locals go, and shanty towns on the outskirts. Like many places in Moçambique, there are many dilapidated buildings from the Portuguese colonial era, and often the sidewalks are sketchy at best. All along the streets people sell various items, typically produce, cell phone minute vouchers, and cheap goods. Moçambique is a country consisting of about 8 different tribes, each with their own language, but Portuguese is still the common language, and not too many people speak English, although this is probably changing as English is being taught in schools.
We note two things about the country in our short stay here. Because it’s the winter, the daylight ends around 5:00pm, sort of a miscalculation on our part. The weather is actually beautiful: in the 80’s, dry and sunny, with only an occasional brief shower. However, it also means it’s the slow season for tourism. We’ve enjoyed seeing no tourists some days… and have been told by some more seasoned travelers to not expect this on the rest of our tour throughout the world.