Archive for July, 2009

not a typical sunday

you’ll be happy to find this post with no pictures. there is a reason for it. this is a post about how one simple sunday of just plain plans to visit the Namaacha Waterfalls about an hour from Maputo and to stamp aldo’s passport on the border with Swaziland became my nightmare…

That morning I has woken up with only one worry and told karen: “no matter what happens today, I will be sitting on this couch at 9pm. I cannot miss G’s A last 5th season episode… no matter what!” she laughed. Little did i know I was about to think it was the most impossible thing to do.

We left Maputo, me , aldo, karen and martim, after a quick breakfast at the Cristal and drove to Namaacha… the trip usually takes about an hour. It tooks us 1 hour and 30minutes because I was stopped by the police for going 20km/h more than what I should’ve… and off we went again.

The first thing on the list to do was just drive to the border, drop off aldo and martim to get their passports stamped and then go see the waterfalls… karen and I would stay inside mozambique waiting to pick them up again when they were ready… 15minutes passed… 30minutes passed… 45 minutes passed… a call from aldo saying:

“they won’t let me in. I have to stay in Swaziland, go to the embassy at the capital Mbabane and get a new visa… it can take up to 30days”

Panic didn’t reach my face straight away, I had karen right in front of me and my first thought was to not let her see how wierd this day was about to get. But she’s too smart… and when I said on the phone even in italian “what do you want me to do” she knew something was up. He explained to me that there wasn’t much alternative to the idea of staying in Swaziland, either I joined him or he’d stay there by himself. I confess… I cried, because not that he was in danger, but it reached a limit in my heart. I am so fed up with these idiots that wake up on a sunday morning and decide to control people’s lives, even when they are legal. 

I excused myself with karen and martim, put them on a chapa to Maputo, explaining that one day I’ll make sure they see the Namaacha Waterfalls and the Limbombos Dam… one day… not today.

As soon as their chapa left, by the way, chapa is the minivan they call taxi buses, I’ll explain as soon as I get up the nerve to get into one. Anyway, they got on, they left and I quickly turned around the car and drove straight to the border building. I left Mozambique without saying a word. They asked “conversation questions”, I simply didn’t answer, I didn’t even look at anyone, I was angry. Too angry to speak.

Next step was to enter Swaziland, it was easier, it’s not their fault Mozambique border patrols work like shit, so I didn’t talk but I looked at them… never ever was I rude. Only because I decided that being silent was my best medicine for the nervous system.

I called by “bosses” and told them, between tears and angry words that I was about to enter Swazi to pick up aldo and sleep in the capital Mbabane, in order for the next day, monday be ready at the Mozambican Embassy to take care of business. But fortunately, Sergio didn’t let me panic too much, he let me know, asking first if I was up for it mentally and phisically, that if I drove to Mananga, the Swazi border with South Africa and cross onto ZA from there, he assured me it would be a piece of cake… easy peasy. From there all I had to do was drive to Komatipoort and enter Mozambique through Ressano Garcia. If by any chance we couldn’t, we could drive to Nelspruit and sleep there and go to the Mozambican Embassy the next day. He asked “if you drive slowly you will be home for dinner, but it’s a long drive and exhausting to go through 3 border patrols in one day”

To which I answered “I’ll be home before 9pm. Just won’t talk all the way there”. aldo gave me permission to drive silently and off we went.

In 4 hours I drove throught 3 border patrols and 3 countries.

By the time we arrived at the Komatipoort border I was about to collapse, not only did I not talk but in the mean time thought so much about myself. As we entered the last border building I had run out of things to critise this system, and for that I kept silent, and before I started taking care of my own papers to get into Mozambique, I waited for him to have his own permission… it would be the second to last step before home. So we waited. And waited. And 40 minutes later there is was, his permission. He could enter from here, but not from Swazi……… go figure these idiots.

I got my things together, papers and all, for me and the car, and drove off… now I spoke, now I let it go. No more Namaacha Border, no more of these horrible experiences, no more embarassing moments. I am done with this. From now on I am not doing this anymore. And I’m sure he’s giving up on it too. It seems that things will get resolved soon, his DIRE and permits and whatever… but seriously… if only state workers would get their shit together this would be a better place… but no, for some ridiculous reason, it serves some sort of purpose. If they would concentrate on getting the thieves, and corrupt polititians, and abusive drivers.  

To stop this right here, I will only tell you this: at 8:50pm I was sitting on my couch, with FOX LIVE on and G’s A starting the most horrible and most intriguing episode ever. Couldn’t have been a better ending for this NOT typical sunday.


detal #019

The legislation in South Africa legally recognizes polygamy, according to traditional indigenous african customs.

For this reason, it is allowed for South African President Jacob Zuma to have 3 wives…


detail #018

i heard gun shots on our street last night…

a typical saturday

when we get a chance to stay in Maputo for the weekend, there are a few rituals to be lived. lately it’s been so hard to do them, to stay in this city, be it because of the orphanage, or just because of weekends at the beach or other events. i had decided 3 weeks ago to not go away anymore, this first weekend it worked, the second didn’t, and i’ll explain in another post, and this past weekend the rituals came back.

these are what living in a city means. to still after so long be able to walk through it and have your own rituals and old and new things to see. Karen arrived on a tuesday morning so we waited for the weekend to show her around, to show, once more what has become our Maputo. Aldo was sick for the most part of the week and i also was feeling a bit off, but saturday we woke up determined to not let some silly and annoying flu stop us.


we always start with breakfast. the doctors recommend it and i for one love having saturday and sunday breakfast out. …that’s one ritual i take with me everywhere. the “pérola de maputo” is a very portughese coffee place, the new kind, not tradicional but where the portughese community, which makes up of about 50% of this town meets for coffee and gossip (i ten to hear everything around me), and eventhough i absolutely hate being in places where communities meet and x-ray you when you walk in because they’re first reaction is “who are you?” i admit it’s the best place to eat a palmier , it’s soft, uncooked and feels so good in the morning. so mostly when i’m alone i go there.


this saturday we decided to let Karen see it and understand this thing about the portughese community and taste good cakes for breakfast. and then off we went to our first stop, our first choise for shopping. the Pau Preto Market.


this is a place where you most certainly spend money, enough and buy exquisite things. there is not another place in town with so much color, so much variety of people and so many other people follwoing to buy things from them. it’s also the best place to hear the most annoying excuses to make the “boss” pay for anything. after 5 attempts to make you buy, you’ll end up either buying or yelling at them because it has gone from “it’s beautiful!” to “just need a coin”… the challenge is not to give in, more than give up. i have developed an amazing capacity of just stop listenning. believe me… here, it’s necessary.




if the market isn’t enough, there is always the Fortress behind us that can be a great place to walk around and just enjoy quiet time…



after walking around for a few hours or so we are ready to treat ourselves to other senses, the taste buds. the amount of color is the same but the effect it has on your taste buds is unbelievably different… it’s tastier! the Municipal Market is the place to shop for great colored fruit and tastier shrimp.



it is amazing. you always find some new vegetable or fruit waiting to be tried out by ignorant people like us… specially me who only started eating tomatoes when i was 22! anyway… it’s a pity you can’t just have lunch there, because i used to love eating at the market in Antwerp, where the libanese stand was. ui… that was a lunch!

lunch on these days definitely calls out to the Centenário, the little shack on the waterfront, with great hamburgers, amazing coffee and what a view!



rita, on your wedding day i decided to live this city once again, like the first time. i sent wind your way… hope you heard me say …”be happy”… “i am”.

she’s finally here

 it was a good thing me giving Greet as a birthday present my house keys.

i sent them through Benjamin, one of the dancers we host now and again. the idea was to make the distance so much shorter… between me and greet, and it worked, because today when Karen arrived and she had those keys in her hand, after picking them up on the most peaceful street in antwerp (got it?) where the most adorable family lives, and opened our door, i realised how easy it was to be close to your dearest freinds, and how not so long ago, Rosie had given them back to me.


she didn’t really know how to do it at first, but we helped and right now she is very professional at it, got to give the girl a break! it’s indeed not easy living with us, and specially if you think you have to for the next 4 months. poor girl! ihihih

Karen has come to Maputo to work with Aldo in his office, to help out during these busy winter months, yes it’s winter. in a way she came to make us happier. we really needed familiar faces around us and with her she brought news, hugs, kisses and gossip from everyone we know back in Belgium. like i said once, at least 1% of Antwerp is here with us.

we really hope she loves her time spent here, 4 months is a long time but maybe not enough… in the mean while we hope to get to know eachother even better for her and Aldo and i will finally get an opportunity to know her a little bit. at least, i already know she likes to bake cakes and she loves apple crumble… which if you know me at all by now, you’d know i’d never live with someone who didn’t! this is enough for me.

…can’t really explain how much home it feels to have someone like her around. it all of a sudden makes things here seem easy and that leaving wasn’t so bad. of course after 9 months and 1 week i could say that myself, but just not out loud. we have finally, after my sister, someone to show around and to explain how things work, and to show that we weren’t soooo crazy to do this. maybe a little…

now, we’ll have a portuguese lesson. she has decided to learn it. poor girl… again.

maybe at least it makes me get back on my dutch.

tot ziens en veel success karen!