A little taste of Maputo.

28 Dec

I had the privilege of being called to a meeting in Maputo, Mozambique. Whenever I have the opportunity to travel for work, I always try and arrange an extra day or so for exploration and fun. I requested my host to allow me to arrive two days before the meeting to get a little rest and spoils after such a heavy year.
The last time I was in Maputo was around 2004, and I never really explored the town as we spent one night and went off to the islands.

On arrival, I could feel the warm air calming me. The hotel shuttle was waiting at the exit of the airport and the 10-minute drive took us straight to the doors of The Southern Sun Hotel. Check-in was swift, the staff was friendly, and my porter escorted me to my sea-facing suite. The room occupied two twin beds and a full bathroom. The bath was next to shutter blinds, should you want to relax and look out onto the room, watch TV or simply gaze onto the ocean.

I immediately donned my swimsuit, took my book, and headed to the poolside for some direct vitamin D, Mozambican food, and swim. For lunch, I had the delicious calamari grilled in a spicy, chili Mozambique marinade, served with rice and salad. I complimented it with a Gin and tonic. The rest of the day was reading, daydreaming, and slipping in and out of sleep.

The evening I decided to explore and took a walk down the road from the hotel. I found a cute seafood restaurant, called Sagres, which is situated on the beachfront.
The atmosphere was vibrant and jovial and the staff was welcoming and friendly. I requested to sit outside of the restaurant to face the beach and ocean. There were no available tables and my waiter went out of his way to find me a small table, put on a tablecloth exactly in a position to feel the restaurant’s ambiance but tranquil enough to feel the sea breeze and watch the ocean. I met a lovely family next to me who was there with their children, nieces, and nephews.
My meal was beyond delectable I ordered grilled prawns with chips and salad. I also chose a Portuguese sauvignon blanc to accompany the meal. Watching the waves crawl over the shoreline as the moon reflected off the ocean was magical.

The following day I booked a walking tour of the town. It was a Sunday, and downtown was quiet and clean, but I felt safe. The tour guide Aylton made the experience extraordinary. The tour began at the Big white cathedral, officially called Nossa Senhora da Conceição the cathedral (as it is mainly known) or demon’s cathedral was built in the 1930s-1940s.


We then crossed over the street to the Old Town hall, which was a little gloomy for me. Being in a building that reeks of the colonial past.
After spending a few minutes there, we went outside and proceeded down the stairs to the epic Samora Machel Statue. It is a bronze sculpture located in the centre of Praça da Independência. It stands 9 metres and weighs 4.8 tons. The statue sits on a marble slab 2.7 metres high at the head of Samora Machel Avenue and is illuminated at night.
Aylton and I had a rather interesting conversation about the politics and the truth behind his murder. He was a little surprised when I admitted and apologised as the truth has come out that it was the SA Apartheid government who played their part in orchestrating his death.

The Franco-Mozambican Cultural Center is situated across the road. As it was a Sunday, it was closed. It is one of the busiest cultural centres in town, with lots of cultural events from live music to photo expositions and more.

Our next stop was The Iron house. The building made little sense, as it is an iron house built in a hot country at a time when there were no air conditioners. The court of justice was supposed to move in but did not want to. It ended up as a girl school of the sister Hospitallers to be closed when religious orders were removed from public schools after the revolution of 1910 and were later as offices. Today it houses the cultural heritage authority of Mozambique.
Across the street, was my favourite part of the tour, The Tunduro garden. A beautiful green space made up of trees, plants, and birds. According to Aylton if we had done the tour on Saturday, we would have witnessed a lot of wedding celebrations going on – a lot of dancing, singing, and happiness. The area is also dominated by big fruit bats.

The next stop was the Central Market. Here one can purchase fresh produce, spices, Cassava leaves, herbs, and a few arts and crafts. I managed to find my mum’s Christmas presents from a lady who makes woven baskets, bags, and kangas.

A small walk through the streets of the town, to the train station. Right outside the station is The Praça dos Trabalhadores. The monument in the centre is dedicated to the Mozambican and Portuguese soldiers in World War I. On top of the monument is a statue of a woman holding a snake in her right hand. According to legend, the snake lived amongst the trees in the square and it used to bite those who wanted to rest below the shadow of the acacia trees. This woman managed to kill the snake which is why she is known as Senhora da Cobra.


The Maputo central station is on an American magazine list of the most beautiful train stations worldwide as the 3rd most beautiful. The final stop was the Fortress Nossa Senhora da Conceição or Fortaleza. In 1811 the wall towards the sea was erected in stone. A plan of 1851 shows that the whole fortress was now made of stone.

The tour provided us with bottled water as well as a map.
I would suggest that you contact Aytlon, should you want to go on an affordable tour. It cost $35, whereas the tour guide outside my hotel asked for $100 and his tour didn’t include all the stops that Aylton included.

The rest of my day was spent back at the pool then a nice swim in the ocean to wash away all the negativity of the year. I lay on the beach and watched the sunset whilst journalling. One of the waters from the hotel surprised me and brought me a cocktail to my towel.

The next morning after my prayers I took a walk along the beach to the pier and found many others praying and taking in the ocean. I took some time to reflect, give thanks, and release. I was ready and strong for my meetings and then departed on our short flight home to Mzansi.

Thank you to the people of Mozambique for an incredible experience.

To book Ayton through Maputo tours, contact them via https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g293819-d19504816-Reviews-Maputo_Tour_Guides-Maputo_Maputo_Province.html


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