Guest post by Christopher Clark.
You cross an arbitrary and essentially imaginary line and, suddenly, everything is different. Rarely had this feeling been more pronounced than when the bus carried me across the border between South Africa and Mozambique, on its way from Johannesburg to Maputo, Mozambique’s capital.
The undulating sing song sounds of African Portuguese quickly replaced any trace of South African English; I left my name behind on one side of the border and picked up a new name on the other. The currency was different, the people looked different too, so did the products being sold at the liquor stores and food stalls. Even the terrain changed. For some hours, we had been cutting like a dagger through the low, golden savanna of South Africa’s Kruger National Park; now all around me were dense swathes of green palms and jungle marshland. It was hotter, more humid.
I was excited.
A Crumbling Colonial Capital
We left the border behind and arrived in Maputo in the early evening with the sun just beginning to set – a hazy pink hue was being drawn like a blanket over the city and a light sea breeze whispered through the tree-lined streets.
Having thrown down my bags in a popular and social backpackers named Fatima’s, I set out in search of food with a couple of other Englishmen I had just met. As we walked through the cobbled streets of the old town, it all felt very Mediterranean with the numerous Portuguese colonial structures coloring the city in summery pinks and oranges. Travelling through Africa is always an interesting lesson in colonial architecture, though many of the buildings in Maputo were not in the best condition and clearly bore the scars of previous decades of civil war and a still struggling economy.
We bought beautiful, fresh prawns and barracuda at the large and bustling central fish market, where you can then take your purchases to one of the eating houses around the periphery of the market and have it cooked for you with local spices, lemon, butter and garlic. This is certainly worth the small extra fee. Read More »