Always carry your passport with you in Mozambique, also, always go there with someone who speaks Portuguese.
My eternal itchy feet are already looking for the next destination to go get lost. I don’t even have my passport back from the Brits yet but hey, a girl can Google.
Some of the places recently Googled, Poffadder (See previous post), Rochester Kent UK, Yosomite National Park US, Bali, Sabie Mpumalanga, Morocco, Endless Summer (movie). A bit all over the place but all places on my I MUST SEE THIS list. But since I am currently in limbo I have been sorting some of my holiday photos.
I like to print photos of our adventures. I like to hold it and be able to show it to guests. LOL who am I kidding. I show them to my cats.
One of my favourite photos of Oscar and I is this one.
It was taken in a strange little park in the middle of Maputo. A few years ago Oscar was on secondment in Mozambique. For 3 months he worked there, flying out on a Monday morning and flying home on a Friday evening. It is a 45min flight to Maputo. One weekend his work paid for me to go visit him, instead of him coming home. (Corporate perks baby) So one Friday I left the office early (back then I worked in an office) and hopped on the Gautrain to the airport. I don’t remember much about the flight. It was only 45min long, do you blame me?
When I got to Maputo International Airport the fun started. You don’t need any visa/paperwork to enter Mozambique with a South African passport. They plak a sticker in it upon arrival. Then write the dates of entry and exit on it. SO my very helpful official wrote one digit wrong, scribbled over it and off I went not thinking anything of it. Little did I know that stupid scribble would cause me so much kak in a few days.
A driver from Oscar’s hotel came to fetch me. Fancy fancy. We stayed in the Afrique hotel in Maputo. Very modern unlike Maputo itself. It reminded me a lot of Nairobi. It was colourful and dirty. It smelt of seafood and smoke. It was rural yet an actual city. Petty crime must be huge, cars had EVERYTHING poprivited. From mirrors to headlights.
We explored the markets. Ebony things everywhere. Helps that Oscar is Portuguese. It made bartering so much easier and we brought back awesome goodies for a steal. In typical Oscar and Lydia style we took our little camera (Back then a mik en druk Kodak) and headed off. No planning, no Googling, just us and a map. We stumbled upon a Military Battery. Cannons and ammo lying around like litter everywhere. Of course there was no one watching so we played with everything. Don’t act all “how can you touch history”. You can go be boring and read about it, I will go touch history inappropriately.
Oscar posed with all the guns and I found a Frangipani tree. Gorgeous little flowers. I wore one in my hair every day.
I remember the sea food was super cheap and fresh. The beer was good too.
In the middle of Maputo is a Blue Steel House. Yes steel. Can you imagine what it must have been like to live in? One sweaty box. Ek grill sommer.
Just as we walked away from the Steel House we saw an older British Couple get stopped by police/military with maroon barrets and AK47’s. Oscar overheard them ask for the couples passports. We decided not to take a chance and dashed back to the hotel to pick ours up. You know, just in case.
We hadn’t even walked half a block and true as bob they came for us. Military men, dressed in maroon, with guns in our faces.
It played out a little like this.
Men: “Where are your papers” (This was of course spoken in Portuguese)
Oscar: “Good Afternoon, no problem. Here are our passports”
Men: “These are original documents”
Men: “You need to have copies with you”
Men: “If it gets lost we are responsible for getting you new ones. There is a large fine for this”
Oscar argued it. All in Portuguese. The sun was setting and we were pretty much fighting a losing battle. They offered to take us down to the station to dispute the fine. Oscar gave in and paid the “fine”. If they had taken us to station we would have had to walk back to the hotel.
Always carry cash with you in Mozambique.
If possible, always have a Portuguese speaking person with you. (kidding, but it helps)
The following day we found the Mozambique Natural History Museum. It was such a blast. Strangest museum ever. There were no barriers and guest could touch/play with everything. I am guessing this is totally not allowed but we did it again. We touched history inappropriately. Oscar posed with all the animals and I played with all the weapons.
Disclaimer – We treated everything we touched and played with respect. Even though the photos suggest otherwise.
On the Monday morning when I flew back Oscar had to go straight to work and could not see me off at the airport. I went to SAA’s little ticket counter and the took my passport and then the shit hiteth the fan. Remember that lady that scribbled over a number in my passport? Well that number was my date of exit. Now it looked like I had extended my date by writing over the correct one. They got angry at me really quickly when I tried to explain the official had made a mistake. It then escalated to them switching over to Portuguese completely. And fast Portuguese at that.
The customs official then demanded I unpack my entire bag. Dirty undies and all. They painstakingly searched every item. (Still not sure of what they suspected I was smuggling out) My Portuguese is broken on its best day so this expedition had me VERY close to tears. Finally 2 men came over to see if they could help me. They were American but spoke perfect Portuguese. (Any Portuguese was perfect to me at that moment) They soon straightened out the matter. I Don’t know what they said but I was allowed to pack my bag and board the plane within minutes. Forever thankful kind Americans, where ever you are.
Look, Mozambique has its quirks.But don’t all destinations? Even after all of that I want to go back and see more. Do it again. And tell you all about it.