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Walking the laid back streets of Maputo

Written on: Wednesday April 1st, 2009

The bus left Jo'burg early.  This meant that, after the seven hour journey to Mozambique's capitol city of Maputo was completed, I would have ample time to find accommodation and explore the city a bit.  Fortunately my quest was made easier en route to the destination.  Sitting in the next row was Maria, a native of Maputo now living in Johannesburg.  We chatted a bit and I learned that she was going home to visit family for a while, as her husband was out of town on business.  In fact, I was invited to stay at her family's place in a spare bedroom if I cared to.  Cool....accommodation problem solved. 

Arriving in the city, she brought me to an urban neighborhood where her family lived.  In fact, before I even made it to the house, I was introduced to her mother, cousins and friends, all of whom were sitting on the sidewalk, dedicating their afternoon to sipping wine and chatting, with the additional hope of selling some of the LP gas in the tanks scattered along the concrete in front of them.  Introductions completed, I was shown to my room and given a general layout of the city.  Maria pointed out a nearby internet cafe that I used for a couple hours before meeting her later that evening for dinner.  

The vibe of Maputo was much different from that of all the other places I had been in Africa.  It was mellow and laid back, reminding me more of South America than Africa.  And although there was plenty of trash strewn about the city streets, there was a distinct cultural beauty that shined threw.

On my first night in town Maria wanted me to enjoy a dinner of typical Mozambique cuisine.  That meant seafood, and plenty of it.  She brought me to a local market where one could choose the fresh seafood desired and have it grilled on the spot.  A combination of squid and jumbo tiger prawns were selelcted, masterfully prepared and thoroughly enjoyed.  Dang.  I could get used to this place!  After dinner we strolled along the ocean for a bit, working our way to a beachside bar for a nightcap before crashing.

The next day I woke early to explore the town.  I hit the internet cafe to check on nearby caches, found three within walking distance, and headed off.  The streets were vibrant...lots of flowers and colors.  Small cafes with fresh fruits dotted the corners of nearly every intersection.  And the fact that Portugese was the primary language of this country only added to the exotic flavor of the city.  I walked for an hour in the hot morning sun, working my way toward the coast.  The tide was out, allowing local residents to walk amongst the shallows in search of today's meal.  Tall palm trees lined the water's edge, completing the tropical vision I had imagined prior to my arrival.  Eventually I arrived at the first cache site, only to learn that the container had been gone for eight months.  No worries, the walk was enjoyable and I saw an incredible amount of interesting sights. 

Another couple miles walk along the coast brought me to the Maputo Riverfront Restaurant and Bar, home of the third and final cache in the area.  I was reluctant to start scouring the establishment, as there were many patrons enjoying their meals.  So I asked a woman if she was familiar with geocaching and whether or not she knew where the cache was.  She laughed and said that I had to search for it, but if I found it, she'd give me a free beer.  Talk about motivation!  I looked for a few minutes before discovering its secret home, after which time she brought me a beer, sat down and introduced herself as the owner of the restaurant.  She liked the concept of geocaching and wanted to bring explorers into her place.  She was so pleasant and the place so nice that I decided at that very moment to come back in the evening for dinner.  Once again I had the fresh prawns and once again I was ridiculously content with my meal.  Another after dinner excursion to a local watering hole, complete with a post-dinner Cuban, rounded out an extremely fun day in urban Mozambique.