Maputo did not leave us indifferent. We go to it in our car and for free. The traffic, in its big avenues, is dense and crazy and it looks very poor. Maputo is a city that has suffered but it is more alive than ever. We got out of the car looking for a tourist info office. The work was in vain. Just half a dilapidated government building with barriers on each floor. We went to one of the hotels that was more elegant which had an agency. It was at the top of the city, hence the picture changed. In it, you feel safer but also less interested. We ate a tasty breakfast in a Portuguese seaside beach bar where we could absorb the tranquil environment and decadent port. Maputo was just the beginning of an adventurous journey through Mozambique. We saw poverty but also a city eager to leave behind a hard and bloody past.
Maputo is the capital of Mozambique. It's an unsafe place because I was personally assaulted by military police, so be careful because they'lI take all the money they can ... There's also little of interest for tourists. The only place, that is great, is the market du Peixe, in `maputo harbor. For 10e I ate great seafood! Inhambane, this peninsula at 700 km from the capital, maputo, Tofo, is a corner of paradise, where you can go on ocean safaris, I enjoyed seeing whale sharks one meter from me, swimming with them. See whales, authentic and great.
Maputo surprises visitors at every turn with its architectural mix. Surrounded by colossal rationalist buildings in the center of Baixa, is the train station, considered one of the finest in the world. The station was designed by Eiffel in the year 1910. The elegant main building is accessed by 2 platforms covered by a wrought iron ceiling full of precious ornaments and supported by columns and beams that are decorated. Here and there there are details of another time: clocks, huge ceiling fans, lovely Portuguese tiles, carved wooden doors, iron benches, large bells ... As if this were not enough, people are sleeping on the tracks steam locomotives. The trains, with names such as 'Botswana Railways', suggest travel through remote and colonial Africa. Filled with magic, romance and melancholy... Fortunately, nowadays some of their old offices were recycled. You can find a Center of Art and Culture, in another the Kampfumo Bistro, a bar-restaurant.
As I said, Maputo astonishes with its rationalist architecture, or brutalist. This architecture is an amazing product of step that followed Mozambique's independence from Portugal. It happened in the year 1975, when the country became the Republic of Mozambique. The FRELIMO party came to power with the support of the Soviet Union and Cuba, which explains the huge constructions and sometimes this country is called the 'Socialist Havana'. As huge concrete cages, almost without decoration and strange owners, these constructions of the socialist era are witnesses of the recent history of Mozambique.
Prepare yourself: arriving in Maputo is an amazing experience, although things might possibly improve once the new airport building opens, which is already finished, but not open to the public. So when you get off the plane, you won't go to the distant modern terminal, but to a completely dilapidated building. First tip: don't take photos. Being the photography lover that I am, I took my camera out inside the building and I was almost arrested. Second tip: if you already got a visa in your home country, then keep all the paperwork in hand and hurry to start the process, but expect to be there for at least two hours. Third tip: if you plan to go from Mozambique to another country and come back, get a visa in your home country, since buying one at the airport is 82 USD and only serves for a single entry.
At just a 15 minutes walk from the beach toward Nhoguane Machangulo towards the strait that separates the island of Inhaca, here the maritime landscape changes completely. Gone are the mangroves, serenity and shelter of the bay of Santa Maria. Suddenly the wind blows the waves. The stretch of sea that separates the peninsula from Inhaca is very narrow and from the shore you can see amazing swirls dragging foam. This site is popular with fishing enthusiasts, who come here to fish sharks. In the Strait of Inhaca is not a very advisable to bathe, it is best to relax on the white sand and see the power and beauty of the Indian Ocean. I recommend visiting this place and contemplating it's magistic beauty.
Just a 15 minute walk from the beach toward Nhoguane Machangulo strait that separates the island of Inhaca, the landscape changes completely. The mangroves, serenity and shelter of the bay of Santa Maria are left behind. Suddenly the strong winds pick up and huge waves struggling to enter the bay crash against the coast. The stretch of sea that separates the peninsula from Inhaca is very narrow and from the shore you can see amazing swirls dragging foam. This site is popular with fisherman, ve come here for the sharks. It is not very advisable to swim in the Strait of Inhaca. It is more for lazing on the white sand and seeing the power and beauty of the Indian Ocean.
Among the architecture of Maputo are some buildings is the 'Correios', or Post Office Building, which can be located at 25 Setembro, the avenue that leads to Baixa, the Central Market and the railway station. This architectural gem is credited over 60 years old, even though it seems to have many more. It is a Mixture of Portuguese and English styles and very well maintained, preserved with precious details like floors in black and white checkerboard, high wooden counters and iron lamps. Painted yellow on the outside with red accents inside, it is really a place you cannot miss visiting.
A few minutes from the village of Santa Maria is a beach of golden sand dotted with mangroves facing the Inhaca Island. The beach, which takes its name from one of the lodges located on the coast of Nhonguane is beautiful and ideal for swimming, as it is in the bay of Santa Maria and the water is very calm. Although the beach is completely wild, and it obviously does not have any services, it is possible to buy drinks and something to eat at a snack bar, which is hidden among the trees. The lodge, is usually full of South Africans who love the fishing here, it is one of the best beaches in the area.
Maputo gives you interesting places that bring you closer to native people who live there. I read somewhere that the city is dangerous, but I would say that I was lost-and-alone through the streets for many days and I felt very safe. Among the places that I liked were the pool rooms. Always half-hidden, small and crowded with silent men only, entering them requires permission. I did it with great respect and my best smile. Maputo billiards reminded me of places I've seen in Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Cuba. They are stridently colorful and reggae is playing constantly. Against the orange, green, red and yellow skins highlight ebony men, turning the adventure with photographic experience. One of billiards which I could move freely is the one next to the Mercado do Peixe.
Bathed by the warm Indian Ocean and completely unspoiled and desolate, the 22-mile coastline of Machangulo Peninsula is a paradise. It's difficult to match. It has the highest maritime dunes in the world. They go from the beginning of Machangulo to its narrowest point and protect an idyllic coast. On the beaches you can walk for hours in complete solitude. You may run into some lucky owner of one of the few houses on the sea or a local person walking the beach looking for crabs. The coast, however, is teeming of life. From November big loggerhead and leatherback turtles come to nest on the beach. You usually see huge jump whales not far from the surf. With its golden sand and wild sea, Machangulo is one of those places where nature is simply at its best.
Santa Maria is located in an idyllic bay on the northwestern tip of Machangulo, it faces the island of Inhaca. The largest town on the peninsula is home to about 400 people, who live in the village itself and scattered around it. The place is very humble, most houses are built in a very precarious way with wood and esparto, and there are no streets, and no one has a car. Only the school and the hospital are quite new and modern, and are built with bricks. In Santa Maria there are two barracks and a outdoor market where women sell a few products grown in their gardens. A quietness inhabits the village. Women, surrounded by children, sit on the floor and men kill time listening to music and drinking at the bar where they sell alcohol. The only visible activity in the Bay. The children-the village is full of beautiful children who love you to take pictures of them - play on the dock, large colored boats with gaff sails go to and from Maputo loaded with goods. Despite the charm of the place, in Santa Maria there areno places to stay. A few lodges - much frequented by South African fishing enthusiasts can be found on the sea side, but only outside the hamlet.
Fishing has been the livelihood of the people of Machangulo for centuries. Despite the changes brought by modernity nothing has changed here and fishermen use the same fishing methods as their ancestors. In heavy colourful barges with trimmed sails, the men go out in groups of three or four, just powered by the wind. Seeing the boats sail through the bay of Santa Maria is a beautiful show. Without a motor, they make long lines with sails filled with wind. They seem to dance a slow dance.
Fishing has been the lifeblood of the inhabitants of the Machangulo Peninsula for centuries. Despite the changes brought on by modern technology, here nothing has changed and fishermen use the same fishing techniques of their forefathers. In heavy barges of colors and very trimmed sails, the men go out in groups of three or four, only powered by the wind. You can see the boats sail through the bay of Santa Maria and it is a beautiful show. Without a motor, they make long passes with full sails and seem to dance a slowly across the water.
In this distant paradise called Machangulo, there is amazing countryside and there is also the sad poverty of its inhabitants. Santa Maria is the only town on the peninsula. The rest of the natives live in scattered hamlets made up of a few huts without running water or electricity. Walking through the forest, you see few signs of human life. Some women are burning vegetation to plant a garden, or at some crossroads there may be a bar, but it's closed up tight, having been built in the wild hope that someone would come and buy something. Amid so much silent solitude, it is endearing to discover a humble chapel. The natives profess animism, but somehow they combine it with Christianity. These small churches, used only when a priest visits the area, are very visible and have high corners. They are built with straw and wood, with a dirt floor and log benches. Air enters freely. They have no windows or doors. There are no embellishments, or pictures. There's not even a cross. Still, thy are extremely suggestive.
In the distant Mozambican paradise of Machangulo, the locals live in an amazing and virgin countryside in sad poverty. As I mentioned, Santa Maria is the only town on the peninsula and the natives live in scattered hamlets made up of a few huts without plumbing or electricity. In the forest, there are few signs of human life. Sometimes there are women burning flora to make room for a garden, or at some crossroads there is a small hut that is closed up tight, built in the wild hope that someone would come there and buy something. Amid much solitude and silence, it's really endearing discover a humble chapel. The natives profess animism, but somehow are also Christian. These small churches, used only when a priest visits the area, are in very visible and high places, surrounded by grass. They are made of straw and wood, with a dirt floor and log benches. Only air enters, because there are no windows or doors. Nor do they have any decorations, pictures, or even a cross. However, they are still extremely suggestive.
Elephant House is one of the most fascinating places in Maputo. The famous shop is opposite the Central Market, in the heart of Baixa, and its front is shaded by a wide gallery that is immediately striking. 'Capulanas', long skirts worn by women in Maputo, and 'ntuzus', handkerchiefs to cover the women's heads, are sold here. These fabulous cuts of cotton produced in Mozambique crowd the shelves from floor to ceiling. Entering this place is like entering into another world. Mostly because of the heat, the store remains in limbo, although this doesn't soften the fabrics' strident colours. The place is always packed with women. Watching them choose from countless multi-coloured designs is an unforgettable experience. It's very difficult to decide on one because of the abundance, so it's best not to buy anything before observing what the beautiful women of Maputo are buying and follow them. This is what I did. For very little money, I bought 5 incredible capulanas with which I later made beautiful dresses.
Entry in my travel journal: "First of all I look for the market. One look at the Maputo Market, also called the Bazar da Baixa, makes one realize that this market is about the soul of its people, one senses its feelings, its dreams and even its love. Light pours through the holes in the old awnings. Everything is shiny ebony skin and ivory smile. The fish vendors sink their gold bracelets into the buckets full of crabs that live in mud, shrimps that fit neatly into old Schweppes cans. I taste with the eyes, I smell and touch. I find a hole and a barricade and go through. Blue bowls filled with shrimps, pink fish still dripping with seawater, buckets full of snails and live lobsters greet me. Golden bread, cashew nuts, mangoes, bananas, oranges, red and yellow peppers, coconuts and beautiful black lips offering whatever is on offer. 'Senhora ... Senhora ...', with my poor Portuguese I speak to you all. Women sleeping on their goods, children growing up between the fruit and vegetables, men playing cards in the hallways. Reddened eyes, calloused hands. Young eyes full of sparks and eyes from which have escaped the brightness of hope. Four hours in the Maputo market."
The first thing you discover when walking on the popular areas of Maputo is that the streets are a lively market. They sell absolutely everything, but the most abundant are the used shoes. If you have a pair or two of shoes that you carry find a spot on the street and wait for an interested party to buy them. Of course there are places where the sidewalks are crowded with shoes. There are miles of heels, shoes and slippers as organized regiments not let you pass. The best place to see this curious display is in the large square between Avenues 24 and Albert Luthuli Julho. Besides shoes you'll find a million things that will surely be more interesting. Best: saris, shawls, tunics and dresses from Mozambique to India.