After an 11 hour flight and waking up and falling asleep constantly, we finally arrived in Maputo (Mozambique´s capital).
The first chat with a native happened in the very next moment, in the luggage pick up area. A man approached us with a smile and a proposal. According to him, the security guards (that were verifying the luggage at the airport exit door) would take some of our belongings and force us to stay there for hours. They would argue that we don´t have permission to bring some of our belongings. How could we avoid this unpleasant experience? By paying this guy a little bit of money and he would “sort everything out”. Well, we decided to follow the advice … of a friend that warned us before about this kind of situation and we said: “No, thank you”. The outcome? We went through the guards and everything was fine. We were officially in Mozambique!
Straight away, an ex-volunteer from our NGO (UPG – Um Pequeno Gesto) and her father came to pick us at the airport. They were lovely and extremely welcoming. She was in town to revisit the place where she volunteered 5 years ago. On the way, we saw a little bit of Maputo. The first feeling that we got was: “This is clearly a developing country”. Even though it is a city, with buildings, banks, etc, everything looked a little old and decadent. But the sightseeing of the Indian Ocean was beautiful. On our way, there´s a famous road that takes you to a place called “Macia”. Imagine it like an African version of the “Route 66”. Locally, probably it has the same importance, since it connects vital cities. We saw a lot of people sitting down on the floor selling fruits.
While we were crossing this street, out of nowhere loads of people started running in our direction. It looked like something big was happening. We had no clue of what was going on but we found it surprisingly funny. Our car was surrounded by natives. It turns out, they were trying to sell us cashews (cajus). And they were the best ones we ever had! Ahhh… Mozambique!
20 minutes later, we arrived in Xai-Xai. There was no sidewalk, the pavements were made of dirt, mud and brown water puddles. The majority of the buildings had only one floor and looked old. Some other buildings were painted all in red. And then, the Coca-Cola or Vodafone logo. These buildings were bars, cafes and local stores. Apparently, these companies offer these paintings and they are extremely popular here ahah.
Right next to the road, kids with yellow vests are selling mobile cards to top-up mobile phones, some women are walking with bowls of fruits at the top of their heads and others are sitting down in the dirt, selling stuff. Some women with typical African skirts, some kids without shoes, others with their feet inside the water puddles. Everything looked similar to what we usually see in documentaries and movies. At the same time felt different, now it was real!