Archive for maputo

that last day

i know how it goes by now. i’ve been through it a few too many times, maybe… that last closing of your usual programs, that last email, that last call, last signature, last thoughts and lists, that turning off the computer really has an effect on me.

i’ve done it before and everytime it happened it was always my choice, my decision and that’s probably why it’s hard because at that last “are you sure you want to turn off computer” you have no clue what you’re sure of. the decision was made, but it seems way too scary to click YES, and it’d be so easy to say NO and keep sitting at your desk.

not many people have had this kind of last days, i’m sure we all complain about our jobs, i’m sure we all hate or have difficulty getting up in the morning so early and either take the bus/tram/car to work, face traffic, most people have to take care of a million things before leaving the house wishing they could start work later but still finish in time to see daylight. i’m sure there are a million things to say about what we like least about our jobs, but our jobs are our lifes and take up enormous amounts of our energy so it’s naturally a very big part of us. i’ve complained, i’ve whined really, gosh i worked in places where i had to struggle through rain by bike to get there, imagine that at 8am and then having to work 8 hours with wet clothes. i’ve worked in places where i had to drive 12kms through unbelievable traffic and praying “our father” in order to keep myself from thinking i was going to die! i’ve worked in a place where a tram ride would take 30min, i could read a book feel relaxed but had a car speed by at my exit sending a massive wave of dirty rain water at me! so, yes, i’ve have reasons to complain. i’ve had stressy bosses, wierd colleagues, long work nights, early morning deadlines, stupid printers and computers that would be better off in the trash… but that last day…

that last day seems a bit too ridiculous to think about all of the things above, but mostly i think about how scary it is to picture the next morning you won’t know what to do, as if you could eliminate habits in one second… seeing that habits take about 3months to BE a habit, stopping one might take more, maybe… or not. because after that last day you notice how much you needed to stop. all of the last days i’ve had have been sad and in a way plain simple. you start work, there’s a glow in your face only because you know everyone is thinking about it, and then there’s a moment where you get hugs and best wishes and all of the most amazing compliments for what has been and who you are. which believe me, compensates for any stress you’ve ever had. i’ve even had ex-bosses cry that last day because they finally realized how much i’d be missed and was important to the “team”… not here in moz! i think i was appreciated every step of the way and that helps make my job easy ;)

anyway, every last day has a calm aspect to it, a moment of laughter… and that insane feeling that you’re about to burst up in tears at the end.

not everyone has had the amazing opportunities i’ve had and who knows if they’ll keep coming, but i’ve been very lucky. in maputo i worked with friends, with people my age, with great minds, great designers and above all what it felt like family. this will be a turning point for me, for i’d like to start something of my own, though i will look for a job nonetheless, somebody needs to pay for the daycare, but i’ve reached a point by watching others around me, where i hope to do something with my name on it too.

it’s been a great ride working with you estudio4 i’ll always remember my corner in that office and will keep the memories, the sand, the lunches, the red-lining, the misspelled emails we received, the frustrations, the stress but foremost i’ll remember you… us… the team!



14 months and moving on

after the twelve months i really thought things, surprising things, would slow down, i really imagined that between their mommy who started walking at 9 months, and their daddy that got up at 2 years-old, it’d take a while before walking was part of their lifes. but their 13th month was really just a space between crawling fast, to too fast and getting up and walking. 5 days before their 14th monthaverssary they got up and instead of the usual and already so common two-steps-fall, F got up and walked from their bedroom to the livingroom (mommy style)… which are about 15steps in their tiny feet… M watched that day still playing it safe and not really wanting to be less than perfect (daddy style)… the next morning M at around lunch time decided it was his turn to shine and did the same, circa 15steps from bedroom to livingroom and clapped in the end. i never thought it’d be so overwhelming, i mean i had seen so much already, between sleeping the whole night, eating everything (only complaining when the plate is empty… which always seems too soon for them), blabbing, crawling, i thought i had prepared myself to see them walk and think “good for you” without tears or ridiculous “awwwws”… but no. no way could i see those proud smiles, laughs, claps and not shed a tear or hold them so tight they’d want to not walk but run away. it’s impossible to watch all that effort for a few steps and not feel an imense joy, and a scary feeling for them. if you look at them while they focus on their feet and overcome obstacles… my kids not only walk but they prefer to step over higher things, they don’t go around the toys, they rather go through them, stepping over boxes and pillows, the harder it is it seems to make them happier and less scared of whatever crosses their way. and i just stare. i cheer, and i hold them at the end of the corridor when they decide that they want to try running and they can’t seem to find the brakes, but just before they fall into my arms laughing and pretending their running from eachother, i freeze time and see every muscle growing, moving and their hearts beating faster and happier. i see their eyes open up as if they just saw the world, i see every little movement as a conquest. there isn’t anything in this new phase that i can’t relate to right now.

as they beging to walk and discover how amazing it is to do things by themselves while still knowing we’re there right behind them, we, the adults, the parents are also about to embark on a whole new world.

i left lisbon in 2002, initially for only 10months… well, that ended up being 9years… he has also left his home in milan in 2005 and what was uncertain became 6years. we are about to go away, towards north this time, to the hemisphere we grew up in, to europe, to portugal… to lisbon. i am finally going home.

i do not know what to expect. yes, it’s the place i grew up in, the place i left but always wanted to go back to… but while doing this i had no idea i’d be who i am right now and so going back is not going back to who i was, it’s a whole new thing. i’m scared of everything that i have missed, or thought i couldn’t live without and did, scared of having made up an idea of what lisbon is, instead of what it became. i am scared of realizing i am part of a much larger world and not of just lisbon. you may think this is contradictory to what i always said, but when the moment finally arrives you notice that you might now know the place anymore. in 9 years i’ve gone back “home” always on holiday or maternity leave and what place doesn’t look, feel, taste new than when you see it on a 24h timelimit? i had no plans, i could visit all my friends in just one day, or divide them up between meals in a whole week. i could climb all the 7hills on one day (except when i was carrying twins obviously!) or decide not to and take the tram (also not when pregnant!). i could decide to explore new shops, new restaurants, new parks, new brunches, new views just because i had time… but what happens when that time in that same city you explored thouroughly is replaces by a 9 to 5 job? do you really see it anymore? do you really live it? in milan we did, in antwerp we did, in maputo we tried… but when you had such an admiration for a place and a almost mystical feeling towards it, it might just come crashing down… and that scares me… a lot. it’s like their tiny steps…

i’m taking it slow, though all tell me to hurry for there is an economic crisis in the world, as if i’ve been living away from it, as if i haven’t felt here any of it. i know it’s going to get very tough, but i need this, i want this and i will do what i can to make the transition easy. my babies will feel the change, i know, even if only through us or maybe because they won’t see their nanny anymore, gosh if i could she’d come with us, but they will have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my friends and their children to grow up with and maybe one day i’ll be able to explain how hard thought needed this decision was. leaving is not leaving, it’s starting… it’s trying harder to give them and us what makes up happy. we chose to have them to ourselves for this year, we decided things for them and we created a world for them with the four of us, it’s time to share, to let them see everyone else to let them know that we also are beginning… also taking our first steps towards something we can’t see but hope and imagine it as a happy place.

a very BUNNY xmas!

to all of you who see us all over the world. we hope your xmas was as lovely and cute as ours.

our first xmas of many as a family.

a very BUNNY xmas to all of you… from far away Mozambique… where the heat is unbearable but the sun shines for all.

detail #045

it’s our latest toy, mostly for us who push it around proudly around town!!!!

stroller for two . carrinho para dois


subliminal messages in maputo

it’s true that the Portuguese Prime-Minister was in town for a short visit, and yes it’s true that the city of Maputo repaved some of it’s streets with actually asphalt and not only dirt, of course those being the streets where the portuguese prime minister and it’s convoy of 60 people, which included fado singers, artists, ministers, architects and presidential candidates, were to pass through, otherwise why bother!?!

it is also true that the Portuguese Community seemed excited about something that was about to happen around here, and i don’t mean the fact that this community  is all part of the portuguese socialist party, but because we all got an email saying how special we were and if we were fast enough and ran to the Consulate, ironically on the Mao Tse Tung Avenue, and showed our portuguese passports we could get an invitation to a very selective lunch with Mr.Prime minister. well, let it be know that i ran as quickly as i could from the bush where i work to the consulate and got my inviation, my other-half can’t because he’s italian, and wrote my own name on the front of the envelope in case it would be stolen. it didn’t…

but anyway, i’m going off track right now. what i wanted to let you know is that maybe we, the portuguese still have a lot of power around here. ok so we’re not building their new stadium, the chinese are, which means that it will collapse in a few years… before Mozambique ever gets to be in a world football championship, but anyway, we’re not doing major visible and gigantic things. our power is a soft power, as my friend alberto would say. we are everywhere without being everywhere.

first we have the power to, with just one 3 day visit of a minister, get streets paved (let me tell you it’s a miracle!), have the consulate in a frenzy of work and actually work, and most importantly we have the power to paint buildings (which is another miracle!) you may think this is just a small detail, but believe me when i tell you, it is NOT! besides being the Portuguese Embassy the building on the photo, kindly given by Alberto too, it is situated at the end of the largest avenue in Maputo, there is no missing it and there is not way you can look away… it is massive and wide and PINK!

if you have never been to Lisbon you will never really understand this color, it is one of the most used colors in my city, i like it but i never really gave it credit and never understood why it is used… being from a city that is 500 years old you tend to dismiss lots of things. but here, in this “neck of the woods” or plainly Maputo it is smething you ask about, why? why would we have used this color? the scale is so different from any Lisbon building, it is not a historical building, not even designed by anyone famous, why would such a strong color be used… why not just repaint the old dirty white effect it had before, without the dirt? well, well, well… if you have questions like these, and i’m sure you do, it’s not just me going a bit wierd on my month nº6 of being pregnant, all you have to do is ask Alberto, and he will ask, and he will find out… and he did.

the secret is all in the name of the color itself… call it obvious, i call it slightly subliminal, but the color is not just pink, it’s ROSA COLONIAL MANUELINO, which translated is MANUELINE COLONIAL PINK… if you have no idea of what Manueline means, google it, but most importantly is that you stick to the Colonial word.

you can call it what you want, but i still think it’s definitely soft power!

how my car became a boat

in case you hadn’t understood… when i said it was raining in Maputo, and you all thought i was just saying to make you europeans feel closer to our weather, i wasn’t really. i was jsut letting you know that the sky was coming down on us… the result?

my car became a boat!

av. 25 de setembro, downtown maputo… basically our 5th avenue!!

also on the same avenue, the City Market…

wednesday, january 27th 2010 was the day the rain decided to make this city a lake… people didn’t go to work, electricity was going mad and pfff internet?? that one decided to take a holiday! but water, yes, water was everywhere!!

to whoever sent these pics to me, thank you for letting me share them! ;)

news from maputo #003

sometimes i feel that i should give you an update, and what a better day to do it than the 1st anniversary of the day i left Antwerp? that’s right, i still though feel in me the moment in color with tears and everything. 

i’m not really sure when i last wrote you an update, but i presume it was when winter was here, doing it’s best to upset me and confuse me. in the house i wore flip-flops but wore socks and tenis shoes outsied, i wore tshirt and cardigan home and sweaters and scarves outside and at work, i watched tv with a little blanket at home and was asking for gloves outside and at work. who would’ve known. after Belgian temperatures one let’s go of any warm clothes in the north hemiphere and almost comes to África with just the bikini and that’s that. after 8 motnhs of intense heat i was addicted and and i froze my butt when the winter arrived.

but like always, after the rain there’s bonanza, and it’s been exactly 3 days that i am back to sweating my skin off!

i am back in the office with flip-flops, slaghetti strap tops, skirt and a desperate will for airco on my head!SUMMER HAS LANDED ON ME!!   which makes me actually realize that i was definitely made for summer, for heat, for hot sunny days. say what you may, chritsmas is indeed nicer in the cold, snow looks stunning after it falls, winter clothes always feel nicer to buy than the skimpy topd you buy in the summer, but as much as i like the winter being an autumn girl myself, i can’t live far away from the sun. Belgium was my north limit, Mozambique will be my south one, thankfully my “in between” limit is right next to most of you, otherwise i’d be stuck in Senegal and that would mean desert winters… still not up for that.


to add to this sudden and hopefully to stay heat, we have moved. not me and aldo but the ESTUDIO4 office.





now i have to leave the house at 7:45 and drive 15kms to my new office, or should i say their new house. yes, because now i work on the first floor of their new house. he’s 30 and my boss, she’s 30 and also my boss, at the moment in Cape Town waitiing to deliver a baby pink girl.  the nicest thing about it, is indeed the fact that 8 of those 10kms are alongside the beach and for that i am grateful,  i see the ocean like i used to once in my life everyday, i smell the indian ocean and i feel its morning breeze. i get tanned just by going to work but only on my right side of the face and arm. the biggest inconvinience is the travelling, if i have to have a meeting with somoene i have to plan it ahead in order to do everything i have to do in the city, or plan it early in the morning or almost after work, in order to not waste time on the trip or too much gas. it had been 6 years that i had live without a car and i absolutely loved it, i hate driving to work, i hate the concept and i’m already trying to figure it out how to do this without a car. maybe i will have to get my ass inside a chapa, the so called suicidal public transportation.


also, the downside about it, is after 11 months i have to call aldo if i want to let him know i love him… now he’s not down the hall anymore, sniff sniff. (jeeez i’m getting mushier by the minute)

Karen is still here with us, still working with Aldo and now it’s just the two of them eating lunch at home prepared by Edite, while i’m so far away eating leftovers from my dinner. She’ll be working with him until the end of September and then hopefully, my dear Luca arrives for a holiday. they are going to travel the country together, but i hope they remember that i miss Luca a lot and i’d be very angry if he doesn’t spend some time with us here… i have so much to tell him.

and, still more news. we’re on our way to Cape Town this friday. Yes, friday morning i get on the wheel of my fabulous car and at 5am start driving towards South Africa and will drive for 1000kms all the way until Bloemfontein. sleep and on saturday do another 1000kms until Cape Town. Martim and Alberto will also come, because Alberto has a driver’s license and we suggested that he come to help me out and so that he too can take a so deserved holiday. Martim and Aldo will be co-pilots and back chorus voices for songs i hope don’t get destroyed by the time we get back on the 20th of september.

will keep you updated.
and just one last detail: SUMMER’S IN TOWN!!!!!! and she’s tanned!