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Imagine Scholar heads to Mozambique
One of the great paradoxes of the modern world is how those with so little seem to be the happiest. Nowhere is that axiom more evident than in the squalor of Mozambique. In three days in the capital of Maputo and the adjoining coastline of Catembe, we witnessed some of the best, most typical “African” experiences – excellent music, bustling activity, and, of course, heartbreaking poverty.
Once in Mozambique’s capital, I was taken aback by the poverty on the outskirts. Just hundreds of people milling about after dark, with little in the way of infrastructure or lighting. I’d say a good portion of the local economy is from people waving you into parking spots and then asking for a tip.
First night was fun – we saw Zahara, South Africa’s current star. She’s quite good, backed by a folky jam band. The students would go crazy to know that we saw her, as she’s quite the big deal around these parts. Pretty crazy occurrence considering we saw the flier for the concert as we got our visas at the Mozambique border.
Second day was just as good – after navigating around the center of the city and checking out a market, we hung out at a pool and sunned ourselves. In Mozambique, there are bargains to be had for the good negotiators among us, as we would see in the next couple of days.
Days 3 and 4 saw us in Catembe, a beachy-type place across the bay from the capital city. Like many things in Africa, you can score a decent place to stay with a bit of cagey bargaining. Despite not having a reservation, we managed to score a couple rooms in a nice beachside resort. Haggling carried the day again on day 4, when the girls spent approximately 9 hours at a craft market and Corey just narrowly missed out on a four-foot statue of a hippopotamus in overalls smoking a tobacco pipe.
All throughout, however, the trip was dotted with pleasant interactions with the locals. I waved and attempted to chat with some fishermen on the shore. The brokers at the market were always up for a little banter. Random strangers on the street were forthcoming with advice and directions.
Most would say that Mozambique’s charm is more evident further north along its picturesque coastline. That’s going to be the next destination, when the time is right. In all, though, Maputo’s a great place to visit. The country has a laid-back, island-like charm down to the coconut vendors and reggae music. Highly recommended if you find yourself in southern Africa.