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Sun, Aug 12, 2018

This summer we visited family in Mozambique, for two weeks in the middle of July. We spent about a week between Maputo and suburbs, and spent another week on the beach near Inhambane, about a day’s drive away; most of the time, with family.

This post is a random tour through some of the photos we took. (The iPhone pictures are Xana’s.)

Despite anxiety about the trip and not knowing what to expect, it was wonderful and beautiful.

handpainted signs

Almost everywhere there are handpainted signs;

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in addition to the corporate sponsored paintings for Vodacom, Mama Africana rice, and 2M beer (not unreminiscent of the Coca-cola paintings in the US of yesteryear).

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improvised things

There were a lot of improvised things:

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One toy we saw on the way: a dish detergent bottle with wheels, being pulled by a cord. (not pictured)

There are also guys who will make a personalized cooking pot from scrap metal:



There are large buses (machibombo), most public, in between the city and suburbs. More common are the chapas (smaller vans), which may be private but as I understood have regulated fares. Both are packed tight.

The large buses have a slightly different system than “board, pay at gate”. During the journey a ticket vender will push through the crowd, selling a ticket to each. Afterwards there might be another one validating the tickets. Some people push to the front, perhaps because they have to get off earlier.

In the chapas it is simpler, sometime before your destination the assistant will ask for payment. Many of them have funny or poignant slogans: “I suffer for those who suffer” and “100% family man”.

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More hair-raising to the observer were the “my love” trucks; just a pickup and everybody holding together for dear life. (Nice article on “my love” trucks from Global Voices.)

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Occasionally there were chapas or “my love” trucks with schoolkids; but during our drives, across the country or in between suburbs, a steadily recurring image was of uniformed kids walking long distances to school along major roads (not pictured).


On the road, the cashew vendors would leave their sacks tied up in trees:

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During the drive, we crossed “the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River," at Xai-xai, where flooding sometimes occured.




Fashion based on African wax prints (referred to in Portuguese as Capulana) is ubiquitous. Other cultures in the region appear to use print fabric similarly.

Beautiful colors and patterns, in the villages most women wore it as a sarong, although there were plenty of smart tailored clothes for men and women.

Many are the times I remarked to Xana about one men’s shirt or another. Not pictured, as I didn’t want to bother randos with my tourist photo taking.

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There do seem to be many employed as tailors. X suggested, and I didn’t need much encouragement, to have a shirt made. We shopped for fabric in the Baixa district of Maputo and hired a family contact to make a few shirts.

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One of the most delicious meals that our hostess made was Caril de Amendoim, Chicken in Peanut Sauce. The flavor was a surprise as the flavor was much more subtle and deep than I expected (not the typical roast or peanut butter flavor). This was a revelation for someone like me from peanut land.

The basic technique is to soak the raw peanuts in water, blend them with the water, and strain them to make a “peanut milk”. Tomato and garlic are blended and added to the mixture, and it is cooked.

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The jars in the upper left are achar, mango or lime pickles in a chili heavy sauce, one of the culinary influences from India.

Fresh chili peppers, chopped up small with a scissor, were also at the table. Here are some bird’s eye chilis from the machamba:


Another interesting thing at table was palm wine vinegar, made from fermented palm sap (sura). Here was a little sura cake in the shape of a pretzel.



We were treated to fruits in great variety and quality. Here is one improvised pre-breakfast plate:


Half a gigantic papaya, a small passionfruit (light yellow), and a pair of maphilwa. One vague source I found identified it as the African Medlar (Lost Crops of Africa: Fruits: Medlars chapter), which was confirmed in this scientific paper. Inside they were partially dry, with a medium size seed (or seeds?) and a kind of plummy paste. Later our hostess said they could also be used to make desserts.

The fruit looks a bit more, on the exterior, like the gingerbread plum (Lost Crops of Africa: Fruits: Gingerbread plums chapter).

Another thing I tried, and sound crazy talking about at parties is the Apple banana, which is a delicious thing that exists.

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Driving through the countryside, our truck would get loaded down with fruit from the vendors at the little towns. In this case it’s around 30 pineapples.

Monkey Orange

One of the marvelous fruits I discovered was the massala, or monkey orange (Lost Crops of Africa: Fruits: Monkey orange). As well as being delicious, their shells are used as resonating boxes to make the Timbila, the native xylophone.



Another thing that seemed to be everywhere near Tofinho was the Indian almond. Deep inside a thick and pithy shell, there is a sort of edible slender foliated nut.




Some random selections of Tofinho. Blue water, sharp cutting beach rocks:

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and some yet unidentified hard beach fruits that someone says might be cluster figs, Ficus racemosa.

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One day met some nice puppers from a neighbor property at the beach:

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and some strange looking sea jellies.

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Our host was practicing a new art of fishing by launching frozen shrimp out of a compressed air cannon:

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Not far from the pristine tourist beach of Tofo, there is a monument on the hill, in some disrepair. It consists of a truncated pyramid with a fist reaching out, a revolutionary star and a prisoner’s ball. At the monument itself, there is a total lack of a signage with indications.


The monument commemerates the murder of political prisoners by PIDE, the secret police of the Portuguese Dictatorship, before the war of independence. Reason being, not far from that place, below there a hole and tube where the prisoners were dumped to the sea (which should also be marked with a plaque, according to the article below).

An article about the monument in Verdade discusses the disrepair of the monument in contrast with the growing tourism there.


One day we took a snorkeling trip in a dhow across the bay and to visit a local island. Perhaps the nicest part of the journey was the languid ride across the bay itself.

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Moises and Albino taught me to play doze or Morabaraba, a twelve-men’s Morris game.


In one of the city parks, on accident we discovered a huge colony of bats in the trees.


Finally, a duck crossing the road:


More photos in the albums for our trip: Maputo and Inhambane