We have been in Maputo for just over a week now. I have to continually remind myself that yes, I am in Africa. That yes, when I open the curtains in the morning that is the Indian Ocean I see. Our first morning here, I sat on the breakfast patio of our hotel drinking coffee and looking out at the water and marvelling at the strangeness that is this new life. Constant sun and salty wind. The diversity of the people and languages being spoken. Knowing that the clams I ate for dinner likely came from the women harvesting the beach just down the street. What a crazy and amazing opportunity this is.

The patio at our hotel

Like every new arrival we were given a social sponsor to show us around and help us get used to our new surroundings. He scooped us up at the airport along with our four suitcases and gave us a quick driving tour of the city, and then took us to dinner at his favorite Portuguese restaurant where we tried Bacalhau (codfish), fried corn and cashew tarts. He even picked us up the first morning to take us to the embassy where we’d start a long process of meeting and learning about everyone and everything. But as we walked into the building I fell and badly twisted my ankle. I was furious – this had just happened in October and I’d gone to physical therapy. I’d even navigated the giant, uneven boulders that make up the streets of Pompeii without any issues. This was the first day and I had shit to do!

I was ridiculously embarrassed but everyone was so nice about it. I joked that I just wanted to meet the med unit staff early. I was given crutches and sent back to the hotel where I have been spending the majority of my time. I hate that I’m not able to experience everything fully right now (Josh has been getting around, though: our sponsor took him to a reggae concert at the local art collective, he’s gone for a few runs along the beach, and he’s made some visits to the local stores for snacks). I have, however, made it to a few meetings at the embassy and received my badge, had dinner at the houses of a few of Josh’s coworkers, and gone out for Piri Piri chicken with our sponsor. Josh and I have ventured out to a few of the local seafood restaurants on our own where we successfully ordered delicious coconut shrimp and grilled prawns and rice with clams in halting Portuguese. One night I accidentally ordered an entire bottle of wine instead of just a glass, but it was good and I don’t regret the mistake!

Josh at Sagres, a little open-air restaurant on the beach

I think that babying the hell out of my ankle is working, and I’m anxious to use the tools I now have – including a brace my therapist encouraged me to buy before leaving – to work on strengthening it soon. I’m itching to explore the neighborhoods and local museums and attractions. We’ll be living in the hotel for at least another week while our apartment is set up. It’s likely we’ll be moved to a different apartment later this year, as the embassy is changing leases, but I’m looking forward to settling in for the time being. It would be the greatest luxury to bake cookies in my own kitchen and do laundry!

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