June 17, 2011
Talk about luxuries that I missed! That bath last night was beautiful. Plus, the hotel provided towels. BIG towels. It’s crazy how we really take for granted the little things.
We are currently in the city of Maputo, Mozambique. Dan called it the Las Vegas of the country, but it’s really not. Dan must have never been to Las Vegas! Maputo is actually kind of frightening. There are sketchy salesmen up and down the street who swarm the people they see. They won’t take no for an answer… No, I don’t want a pirated copy of Tangled in Portuguese. No, I don’t want an iPhone. No! Please don’t shove your still alive lobster in my face!
We started today with a city tour. We went to a few museums and some sites like the cathedral or fort.
We stopped by a craft market then ended the tour at a genuine fish market. A few of us stayed and bought some freshly caught prawns and red fish. They grilled them for us and we had a delicious meal! It was great compared to New Mexico fish!
At this point we became true tourists abroad. Mozambique isn’t really an English-speaking country. The national language is actually Portuguese. When we hailed a cab, the driver didn’t really speak English. We had to find a translator to help us direct him back to the craft market.
At the market, this problem continued. Many of the vendors didn’t speak English, either. It also happened on the way home. We were told that the hotel was close, but it most certainly was not. After trying to get directions from many people, we finally conceded and booked a tuk tuk to take us home. The ride was pretty terrifying. We ran red lights, almost hit parked cars, and really thought that our drivers were crazy. I thought I was going to die.
We went out on the town that night to experience the city’s nightlife. We went out to eat at a nice restaurant, then went on to the main street somewhere to have fun. We ended up at a gay bar, which is funny of its own accord. But the place was pretty lame. The music was horrible, there was no dance floor, and the people were mostly confused as to why there were suddenly twenty American women standing around.
We were pretty antsy to leave, but our leader had disappeared. A lot of us were beyond frustrated that he dumped us here at this really boring place and left. Finally he shows back up and says “We have to leave. NOW.” We were all pretty confused, so he explained the situation to us.
Apparently the Maputo police tried to fine the bus for illegal parking. The bus was not parked illegally. Also, nobody even follows the restrictions in Maputo. There were people parked on the sidewalk, on the curb, and even in the middle of the street. Basically, the police were corrupt and just trying to get money for themselves. So our leader told them he wasn’t going to pay them. Now they were off trying to find us to extort money from us.
If that wasn’t scary enough, on our way back to the bus, we passed a group of the police officers wielding their AK-47’s. As we approached them, they turned and started walking slowly in the same direction we were. That was easily one of the scariest moments of my life.
And so, we all got on the bus and went home instead.