Mozambique 2008-12

When we were living in Togo, Louise told me that either I had to buy her a donkey, or we had to move to Moz. Well, I love donkeys, but know that in that type of choices, there is only one good answer, and it was not the hi-han one. So, some months later, we moved to Mozambique, I was lucky enough to get a job for the same organization I was working for in Togo. So in 2008, we moved to Beira. a city at the end of a road, on the indian ocean. 5 years later, we are out of there, and moved to Harare, in Zimbabwe, which is great. 
I still go to Beira, every second week, driving the 9hours between the cities, going from the mountains to the ocean, the cold to the heat, english-speakers to portuguese. A world of differences. 

 From the Machipanda border, on the way to Chimoio, the first town and sight isVila de Manica, and on top of a hill, there is a simple church, the type portuguese colonials have been mass-producing in the country, but its simple lines and surroundings make it welcoming. On the the zimbabwean side of the border, the surroundings of Mutare, one will pass organized cities, manucured gardens and occasionnal potholes that are being fixed. Even if the place shows signs of better days, things are organized and constructed... cross the border and the landscape changes, houses are scattered in no definite order, builded according to one's ideas and means available, trees are chopped down, potholes are occupying the streets. You feel you entered a different country. Here people drink 2M, smoke GT and things are just... different.

 Every municipality in Moz recieved a wonderfull piece of art, a mini replica of the massive 20m high statue of Samora Machel in Maputo. Samora is dressed in his full guerilla regalia he liked, finger in the air, giving one of his many speaches. With Eduardo Mondlane, he created the FRELIMO and led the guerilla war against the colonial forces of the Portuguese. When the country became independent, he became president, embracing socialism, helping the anti-appartheid, anti-rhodesian movements, and starting economical reforms that brought his country to its knees. A plane he was travelling in crashed end of the 80s. Very interesting life, great leader skills, and now we are blessed with a golden statue of him, facing the city, and we have to find it beautifull and inspiring.
Market in Inhassorro,
The Gorongoza National Park is stunning, bird life, flaura, game, it is beautifull. Unfortunatly, the park is private, and turns into a luxury place. It is getting difficult to go there on a budget. This makes the place unaffordable for local middle class mozambicans, impossible to access for schools and groups. Long term creation of some conservation ideas among the local population should start with giving people access to wildlife, as South Africa is doing, not making it accessible only to foreigners or hunters. Anyway. Check

Louise went to China on a bamboo study tour, when she came back, the kids couldn't wait to discover the bits of China she brought back with her. Unrecognizable foods, bamboo radios, keyboards, socks fans, panda etc. 

My drawing kit, small, all fitting in a plastic bag.

My office at Tdh in Beira, walls covered with my children's art, pasta-frames and heart-shaped plates, ladybugs and flowers. 
So, at the end of Avenida Eduardo Mondlane, one gets to Baixa, the city centre. Oh and there is also a primary school and university named Eduardo Mondlane in Beira. 

The train station is an absolutely beautifull piece of modern architecture from the 50-60s. The great hall is sober and lit by gigantic windows. The station used to be on the old 1000 or 5000 Meticais coins. Now there are still some trains, 4 times a week, and the station remains empty most of the times, only catering for customs and finances civil servants and customers who are using its ATM and bars.

Beira-Tete, sketching of the plane; Tete-Maputo.
Beira to maputo is an 1:20 h flight. Beira-Tete-Maputo is a nice 5h journey. Round trips are LAM speciality. LAM, although its on the black list for the EU, has got some pretty decent planes, good inflight magazine (Indico) and not so bad staff. Definitively miles better than Airfrance or Luftansa staff. The only bug is that their domestic flights are never on time (although the management shows in every Indico a 90% on time flight statistics, I don't know how they produce those, probably using the institute that is also counting votes in Zim). And when they are on time, the route changes and add another 10 stops on the way, turning a one hour flight into a 10 hours tour of Mozambique.  

Maputo is super expensive. Hoyo Hoyo is the cheapest clean hotel in the centre. It is cheap for a reason. I guess it has not seen a redesigning team since the 60s, and the brown-variation of the rooms are reminiscent of a time when brown was the greatest colour and it was a design feat to have matching curtains and beddings. It is clean, the staff is friendly and the food is cheap and decent. Good enough for me to spend a week a month there. 

The beach front 100m from our house. The ocean in front of Beira is often irty, due to the harbour and the rivers coming in. It is also full of prawns, crabs and other sea rodents that we can feast on. 
The fire department of Beira is a groovy art deco building. It is also the place where one has to do its bicycle riding licence. Once done, you get a small booklet to handle to the police when they stop you on the road. I still don't know if one has to carry a fire extinguisher, 2 triangles and a reflecting jacket on a bicycle, mine broke after 100 meters, and I gave up fixing it after 600. It was a fancy looking chinese brand, but that couldn't handle a single mile. 

Church in Inhaminga, same style as the one in Vila de Manica. Inhaminga is an interesting town, it was used by the rhodesian railways and  the portuguese as their main workshop on that line, and thus a small city developped around the workshop, with sports clubs, management houses, water towers, swimming pools etc. All in the middle of the bush. Then independence came and then a bloody civil war. Inhamninga was behind the RENAMO lines and RENAMO forces maintained the workshop functionning. In 1992, the civil war ended, and when the central government took over the RENAMO government in the region, it took less than 6 months to have the entire workshop desintegrated, plundered and emptied of all metal. Now the workshop is only standing as concrete skeletton. There is no water in the city, roads and buildings are falling down. The city has died.
 With the finding of massive amount of coal in Tete, landscapes have changed, trains came back, prices exploded. Vale trains average 40 wagons, long, long, long.

Most luxurious hotel in Mozambique, the Grand Hotel was open for a year or so. After independence, tourism was not so hot anymore, and the hotel turned into a military camp, prison and reeducation centre, then in residences. There are now around 3'500 people living there, in a giant squat with no conditions of hygiene, sanitation etc. There are some intersting documentaries done on the hotel, one is by Lotte Stroop, a fellow belgian. 

 The Casa Amiga de Criança is a local organization Tdh has been supporting and helped create. It organize activities for children and has a social service that can support those in need. It also supports the provincial coordination for child-caring organizations and provides permanent trainings for the social workers of the city. It is a great service. Check onç
Oscar was so proud of his school uniform, shiny shoes, tie, oversized shorts and socks, enormous bag. 

Louise, Tanita and Sheila, pregnant at the same time, enjoying every bit of it, Ogi, Martin and me sipping our beers.  

On that minuscule hut, in the middle of Chinculo, was written:  Sou Eu Daniel Antonio Producos, Proibido Entrar cara estranha mais sim atende Moça. Don't think google translate will do a good job on that one. Haven't seen the guy, I would have loved to ask him if it worked, just to know. 

That is my girl!

Charcoal transporters. these guys are cycling/pushing their 2-3bags loaded bikes on miles to sell them for a couple more usd to the nearest town. The charcoal is made of nice hardwood, but I don't think that the damage they do to the forrests are anywhere comparable to the damage done by big forrest exploitation that run unmonitored by the government (or the officials are helped to close their eyes), and the wood send to exotic locations in Europe and China. Some businesses are managing their forrests well, others are turning lush woods into a semi desert. Blame it on the Chinese, blame it on the Mozambican government and administration that makes it possible. 

Tentaçao, Tipo tinto, Zed, Flame etc are brands of hard spirit sold in small plastic bottle that keep the nation moving. As soon as they have the cash, the poor rush to their local banca to spend the 25 meticais necessary to get the flavourer ethanol fix. I've personally tested many of those and they are seriousely bad. The only one that can pass if you're on a serious alcohol deprivation, or at the end of a binge night, after having passed out, is the rhum tasting Tipo Tinto. Try the pinapple flavoured Zed just for fun. 

Amazing caves and limestone formations only an hour from Inhaminga. Stop for the night in Inhaminga (Residencial Safari), then enjoy the caves.

People die more in this part of the world. Sounds funny, but it is true. People die younger, when still surrounded by their famillies and friends, so death is everywhere, its through colleagues, friends, people you've seen in bars, crossed path with... it comes with AIDS, malaria, Hospital Central de Beira, fevers, road accidents, murders,... name it. Not so many pleople die of old age at the end.  

The collections are a bit in decay, unfortunatly because it has some nice bugs, reptiles and stuffed animals that need care. the ethnographic department is terrible. One thing that the museum has, is a collection of elephant foetuses, at all stage of their development. It is a unique collection, made possible thanks to the cleaning of the surrounding of maputo, during colonial times, to enable farming. Thousands of elephants were hunted down, among which pregnant females. The genius of the main hunter was to gather those foetuses and put them in formol jugs for the new manuelite museum. Unfortunatly the formol is drying out and some foetuses are getting dry and rotten. I guess it is a good opportunity to start a big hunt again! 
The station was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the engeneer that builded the tower in Paris. It is really beautifull and would fit perfecty in the french capital. He also designed a house, known as the iron house, for it was made of that material. It prooved unfortunatly too hot and not very confortable for the climate. Now I think that it is the ministery of education and culture that is in it. 

 Bancas fixas are the local bush shop, where to find batteries, rice, millie meal, sugar, oil, cigarettes, spirits, petrol and pens.


Dhows, great boats sailing across the waters of the indian ocean. 

House in Inhambane, I like that place. 

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