The description of my first day in Maputo, Mozambique from AF-01. Sunday, October 7, 2001 My alarm clock awakes me from a dream at 7 AM. I recall that the last night we came to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. In colonial days the Portuguese called it Lourenco Marques. At 7:40 AM I head to the dining car for breakfast. Due security reasons we are not allowed to walk outside the train. Today I sit with two young Dutch. I have eggs with bacon and a croissant. I drink guava and have a cup of coffee. With my camera bag over my shoulder I scan a list of names. There is a designated number of a microbus at each name. We are leaving for the sightseeing tour of Maputo at 9 AM. In front of the railway station, on which design Gustav Eiffel participated, the buses drive around the square twice, so everybody can take its picture. In Mozambique there is a ban on pictures taken of government buildings and also of railway stations. Maybe, it is not taken so seriously. Then we drive to Freedom Square through streets with large white apartment houses. Today is Sunday and there are only few people on sidewalks. I see that all cars drive on the left side of the streets. It used to be a Portuguese colony and I think that in the past they drove on the left in Portugal, too. On the other hand, all countries bordering Mozambique used to be British colonies and all of them drive on the left. So it might have been a necessity to drive on the same side. At 9:30 AM we are driving inside the Municipal Market. I am making video through the bus window. It looks like they are selling everything from fruits and vegetables to firewood here. From the market there is only few minutes drive to Avenida Vladimir Lenine. Almost all, if not all, streets in Maputo have names of various world communists or African leftist leaders. In the late 70’s and all 80’s Mozambique was bona fide communist country and it is still now. At 10 AM we leave the buses and go in the Covered Market (it has a roof). It is full of the local people. I am making video and some pictures. Most common articles are cashew nuts, wrist watches and CD’s. Our city sightseeing continues at 10:25 AM. The sun is shining through the thin cloud cover. Next stop is at Praca da Independencia (Independence Square). Its neoclassical City Hall and the Cathedral command the most attention. On foot to nearby Casa de Ferro (Iron House) dating from the end od 19th century designed also by Gustav Eiffel as a residence for Mozambique governors. However, its metal exterior was not suitable to tropics and no governor ever lived there. In its vicinity is a botanical garden, Jardin Tunduru. There are two benches made out of rifles inside. A statue of the first Mozambique president, Samora Machel, is in front of the garden. Machel was a convinced communist. He died in 1986 in a plane crash. It is sunny, starting to be hot and unpleasantly humid. Within few minutes our buses bring us to the sea shore. It is the Indian Ocean, the third largest expanse of water on the surface of Earth. We follow the shore to the east before it turns north. There is a new Holiday Inn Hotel on the left and beautiful but almost empty beaches on the right. The people on them are mostly digging for oysters. At 11:35 we make a stop at one of the beaches. I am collecting some shells. There is a stand with souvenirs on the shore. About a 10 years old boy asks for money. Generally, people don’t bother us too much. We depart this idyllic place at 12:10 PM. Our buses are passing expensive villas shielded by walls and vegetation. Among them is one, where Nelson Mandela often stays, since he married Samora Machel’s widow. At 12:30 PM there is a lunch break at “Mundo’s” restaurant on the corner of Avenidas Eduardo Mondlane and Julius Nyerere. It is quite a nice place. At last I see the exchange rate $1 = 21 000 Mtc (meticais). I decide to have “Grilled Chicken Ceasar’s Salad” with bacon, avocado, almonds and Chinese noodles. It is “Salada Cesar com Galinha Grelhada” in Portuguese. I like the dual language menu card. I ask and I get it as souvenir. We are safe, they take VISA and Master Card. The meal I ordered costs 120 000 Mtc ($5.71). I drink Winhoek Light for 25 000 Mtc. With the tip I pay $9. Before we get in our buses, some young street vendors surround us in front of the restaurant. One of them is already unzipping my camera bag. Time to leave. At 3 PM we are at the Natural History Museum. It is not large but very nicely done. There are dioramas in the central hall with stuffed African animals often in dynamic positions. On two levels around its perimeter there are exhibits on various topics (evolution of man, water animals, birds, etc.). We are leaving at 3:40 PM. The last stop is at the fort built by Portuguese in the middle of 19th century. The guns of this fort have never fired in anger. There have been no wars here. Its structure made of carved brown-reddish rocks is overwhelmed by the city high rise building standing just behind it, though at its prime it inspired confidence of the city dwellers. The surrounding wall is 5-6 meters high. In its fortified corners one can see the barrels of guns. I am taking pictures from the top of the wall. Most of the inner space is grass area from which few coconut trees and some perhaps magnolias grow. In one corner there are some guns arranged in a circle. There are two brass statues in the fort, but nobody can tell me whom they represent. We are leaving for the nearby railway station at 4:30 PM. Back on the train I have a drink in my compartment. Exhausted by the “hard work” of a tourist, I lie down for a while. Well, somebody has to do it. Before 7 PM we leave for dinner in a seafood restaurant. There is Greek salad, fried fish and a chocolate mousse for dessert on the menu. After 9 PM we return to our train. I am finishing my notes of the day, read Lonely Planet about Maputo and the Kruger Park and getting a mosquito out of my compartment. Thunder and rain start before 10:15 PM. At 10:30 PM I turn the light off.
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