Posted: 7/1/2010
Title: A FISHY TALE IN MAPUTO

Blog:                                                                                                                         

      A pleasant night's sleep at Residencia Palmeiras and an outstanding breakfast. I chat with the manager Celia Rocha and with my new friends from Paramus, NJ. Al and sons David and Alberto. We set off on a walk down to the docks and I really need the plastic fly swopper I bought in Marrakesh, Morocco for 10p to get rid of persistant street sellers.

      Off we continue with a trail of them to the Mozambique Football Federation Office. My friend Mario Coluna, hero of Portugal's national team and born near here, had told me to visit. I was with him in the Presidential Box at Estadio do Luiz in Lisbon about 18 months ago. Mario was in the 1966 World Cup team and was defeated by England in the semi-final at Wembley Stadium and I was there.After independence he served as President of the FMF www.fmf.co.mz and also Sports Minister. We meet with Filipe Lucas Johane secretario-geral of Federacao Mocambicana de Futebol. They have a new 60,000 capacity national stadium under construction, built by the Chinese. I joke that they will never qualify for the World Cup because too many of their players will break an ankle on the pavements of Maputo.

     THE BLACK MAMBAS are currently 85th in the FIFA rankings and have qualified for 4 Africa Cup of Nations Finals in 1986, 1996, 1998 and recently in Angola 2010. Their captain is called Tico-Ticco and their top club Ferroviario de Maputa also use their stadium for the national team until the new one is completed.  Carlos Querioz the Portuguese coach and Abel Xavier of Liverpool F.C. were born here. Mart Noois from Holland was fired after Angola when the Black Mambas only got 1 point in their group.

      Most manhole covers are missing, stolen by thieves and melted down.  At night it is very dangerous, during the pleasant sunny day it is just tricky. We are hungry and take two TUK TUK four stroke Bajas open taxis, the same you see in movies from Saigon and elsewhere. Off we go along the Baia de Maputo on the Indian Ocean, along the beach road Avenida Marginal and turn left on Rua Palmer, about 4km to the FISH MARKET. I had heard all about it and we are not disappointed. Amvia who is pretty and seems to be in charge shows us a menu. We order a Grouper and Prawns and she brings us this huge orange fish(part of the sea bass family) and the uncooked giant prawns. We like it and she goes to prepare them.

        Meanwhile The invasion of the street sellers. Beautiful batik like cloth, soccer jerseys, bracelelets, drums, boxes in exotic woods, ladies selling bags of nuts, a guy with wire working toy helicopters, CD sellers, necklaces of coral, shells, wood, WHERE IS MY FLY SWOTTER. Then the meal arrives. The plate of grouper, two plates of prawns, one grilled, one fried, a plate of rice with shredded carrots, a plate of tomato, onion, lettuce and cucumber salad. IT IS SIMPLY WONDERFUL. OUTSTANDING. A MEMORABLE MEAL. Mozambique is the first country I have visited with NO McDonalds and I DON'T CARE.

     Off we go back to town in the tuk tuks, to the historic railway station. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, and resplendent in iron work. GLORIOUS. Opened about 1910, we see some old historic engines in the forecourt and then a train pulls in, old and battered. The old waiting rooms have been turned into art galleries and there are plaques on the walls in English and Portuguese telling the history of the station. It's a MUST SEE for all tourists, and real potential in bringing trains full of tourists from South Africa for a fishing and relaxing weekend.

    Next morning is chilly and overcast. On the Baia do Maputo I catch a small ferry boat, MPFUMA. It costs 5 meticals, about 15 cents for the 25 min journey across to Catembe. There on the quayside are women selling sardines and other fish, trucks piling in passengers for local trips, and a couple of dozen tiny corrugated iron stalls with food.

   I notice a woman with a cage of chickens next to one of turkeys. It makes me hungry. Cecilia calls out to me from her Kingston Town cafe shack. 'Like some chicken?' I get  half a chicken, french fries and salad for 70 Mts about $2.50. She is from Jamaica and a complicated story.  Back on the ferry with women with baskets of sardines piled on their heads as they go to sell them on the mainland.

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