Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lourenco Marques – Mozambique. Now Maputo. What waz, waz!!

Mozambique has had a long and complex history – the Portuguese originally settled on the island of Mozambique – 1000 miles north of where we are currently anchored – and the ubiquitous Vasco da Gama turned it into a trading station in 1498.
Over the years Mozambique became a center of commerce bringing together Africans, Arab traders, Portuguese and other Europeans and workers from Goa in India and Macao – the other major Portuguese trading locations.
A few years later another foray into Safala allowed the Portuguese to gain control of gold trade and rapidly, in the absence of other European interests, they expanded their control to a coastal strip on both sides of the Zambezi river.
In 1898 the capital moved from its original location to the present day Maputo – which was at the time an undeveloped settlement built around a 1787 fortress. It did have a huge advantage, however, and that was it provided a great natural port that became increasingly important to service the needs of  South Africa and the British – with the discovery of gold and the need for the Transvaal to have access to European markets; then the Boer War and the opening up of the direct interior ie Rhodesia.
Lourenco Marques became a bustling sophisticated colonial city with great hotels beautiful beaches and a bustling tourist trade.
With the independence movements of the 1960s all of this changed and while the liberation war from 1962 to 1974 led to independence from Portugal the heritage of the country came to haunt it. First there was a massive exodus of educated and trained technocrats (to wherever) once Frelimo came to power. Second, neither Rhodesia or South African governments could permit a revolutionary haven on their borders to they helped forment a civil war by supporting and arming Renamo – a guerilla movement that made havoc of the countryside. To this day 20 people a day are injured on residual landmines.
Between this heritage of war, the brain drain and a massive AIDS epidemic things are a bit tenuous here now.
Enough of that. What about the here and now? I decided that today was my day off so I stayed onboard the ship and looked after the boilers (or whatever). Merle on the other hand went into town on the shuttle bus to look after the local economy – first at the Polana shopping mall then at the Feima craft market. Responsibility for the “impressions of Maputo” therefore rest directly with her.
So, first, the sail-in to Maputo Bay and the Tembe River Estuary. Beautiful looking boulevard lined with lovely green trees and tall buildings – very majestic.

Then, reality as one gets a bit closer – the buildings are a bit “ferlep” (dilapidated) - this is Africa. 

Mao has his own street (so do all the other Marxist Leninist biggies). 

Ducky dinner on the hoof.

The clothes you donated to Goodwill….. here they are on the street, for sale.

Also the shoes.

Merle liked the Mall – it was small but she found a few ways to spend some dosh. This couple were all dressed up for the marketing occasion and look lovely – gave her a red rose – more than I’ve ever done! - (she gave it to Tom – the 21/2 year old Australian kid on the ship – he loved it)

Next she went to the Craft Market – this entailed the shuttle bus returning to the ship then taking the people back to the market (don’t ask). This was the highlight of her time in Maputo. She loved it. Lots of lovely things. Lots of color. Beautiful cloth, vibrant paintings, a kaleidoscope of bead colors.

Beautiful shoes.

Lovely baskets and look – bags do grow on trees!

Also got a view of the people at play – checkers – board painted on a park bench; bottle tops and pieces of wood for the draughts (or whatever they are called)

Dudes hanging out sending text messages 

Member of the local chapter of the New York Bead Society.

Thought I’d finish of with a crafty tip for woodworkers – want to stain your latest project? Boot polish is the way to go! The secret is out.

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