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MAPUTO, Mozambique

An emerging city

sunny 74 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

We used to talk about “third world” countries – now we hear of “developing world” countries, and places like Maputo are the reason why. Poor Mozambique, living through twenty years of a brutal civil war ending in the 1990’s, a horrible cyclone in the 2000’s, and now this year’s cyclone that has brought cholera in its wake. We were here in Maputo six years ago and saw a crumbling city with poor women sitting on sidewalks selling bits of produce. There are plenty of poor women still, but the feel is different. There seems to be some hope and vitality. This was especially so at the Arts and Crafts park where our shuttle bus dropped us. It is HUGE. Kiosks and mats overflow with carved boxes, jewelry, bowls, bone-handled spoons, tables, sculptures, purses, all surrounded by the colors of sarongs and painted canvasses hung on lines. The whole park is filled with hopeful vendors, some of whom won’t leave your side and others of whom are more subtle salesmen – and yes, all men. Who knows where the women are?

After filling our bags with lovely things for all our friends, we needed another carrying bag. Our new friend Ibrahaim showed us many, but we were out of money, so Ibrahaim, not wanting to miss a sale, walked with us to the lovely Hotel Polana where we sought an ATM. No ATM, but we found friends from the ship who were kind enough to make a loan.

Then a terrific manicure at the hotel spa, and back to the port along the coastal road – lined with pretty crumbly government buildings, including the Ministry Against Corruption. We are guessing this department should be expanded.

The city itself is a strange amalgam of ugly modern buildings, Soviet era blocs of moldy concrete, a few colonial remnants, including a beautiful train station designed by Gustav Eiffel (and the marvelous Polana Hotel). It is transected by a massive bridge, actually quite attractive, built by China and opened last year. The bridge connects the city and a suburb and is intended to urbanize the (undeveloped) area on the far side. It looked fine until we looked some more ... and saw only one bus, no cars or trucks, crossing this wide span. Really, five minutes passed and the only vehicle we saw was the bus on its return. Apparently the bridge has been built in faith that “they will come.”

Posted by HopeEakins 23:28 Archived in Mozambique

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