Mozambique is a treacherous place in the sense that it startles one with its beauty. After a delayed flight and short bouts of turbulence, I flew into an arid landscape populated with lumps of volcanic rock, small Baobabs, and wide, leafy plants. From the tiny keyhole of the airline window, I could not help remarking on the smoky look of the clouds that stretched across the lands, which looked almost entirely deserted. Eventually, the plane touched down closer and closer as small thatched roofs and colourful clothes lines appeared on the cityscape. Upon landing, small heads appeared on an open terrace from the airport, where they stared wide eyed at all the newcomers who climbed down the steps from the plane. Why is it that new places give one such a jump in the throat? It could be mere nerves, or it could be that the human heart was meant for adventures. In simply moments, I could already feel my heart expanding as if I wanted to embrace this Vista and this country even though I knew little. My brain was feverish and I couldn’t stop looking all around me, as if I might miss a moment.
Nampula was quite a contrast to the vivid pulse of Maputo, the capital we visited just one day before. While it is considered a city, I did not catch even one glimpse of an urban memento, neither skyscraper nor scaffolding. This is not to say that they do not exist but rather that they are not easily found from the airport; this certainly says something about the layout of major landmarks in this part of the world. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Driving for several hours down a straight shot into Nacala, there were women with large basins of water balanced perfectly on their heads, motorcycles overloaded with 2-3 passengers, and market sellers shrieking at the vehicle to slow down so they could sell cashews. It did not matter whether the car was speeding by at 120 kilometres per hour; these men simply called for attention whether they expected an answer or not. They are a brave people. It almost seems fear does not exist for them – they have more to gain then to lose.
Another piece of minutiae I have already gathered from a rather short time here is that the rhythm of movements seem off of the particulars that Europeans, Americans and those from the traditions of the “Western” comforts are accustomed to. Maputo was almost quiet in its entirety in the first few days of January as Mozambiquan holidays seem to extend beyond simply New Year’s Day. Therefore, the idea of sitting in a lounge with no music is quite bizarre but it may be exclusive to the African “holiday mentality.” Regardless this is what I experienced. The bizarre aspect of the non-music is more the presence of strobe lighting simultaneous with the presence of silence. Yes, this is how January second was spent in Maputo. Certain descriptions of Mozambique have prepared me for this observation: one aspect of life often works while the other does not. Mozambiquans do not seem to mind. In fact, this appears to be common. This reveals an incongruity which is an ever-present part of daily life. It does not need to be negative but rather it is a part of how Mozambiquan peoples have adapted and lived. They choose to carry water, bananas or nuts on their heads in rain or sunshine. They are relentless when looking to sell. They never give up on traveling just because the power lines are down. They don’t fear lightning during serious storms. You can find their mopeds and cycles crawling or flying down the road no matter what kind of tears are pouring out of the heavens. This also extends to apathy about which side of the road they intend on driving. Whoops. For better or worse, they adapt. They survive. It really is beautiful. It really is treacherous.