Maputo is full of welcoming people and we’re starting to make some good friends. Sometimes the embassy community feels a bit like college: a bunch of people thrown together for a few years – professionally and socially – possibly without anything in common. Though it’s kind of like the military in that we’re all in this same weird boat without any of our friends and family and everyone knows we need to reach out to and look out for each other. It’s nice (though I do very much miss my people back home).
We’ve been making some trips around Maputo and beyond. Awhile ago a group of us went out to the island of Xefina, a tiny speck of land in the bay, and walked around its beaches for a few hours exploring the mangroves, marvelling at the flamingoes, chasing crabs and collecting shells.
About a month ago we took a ferry across the harbor to the small town of Catembe. We walked around for hours, from the market at the docks down the coastal road, pausing to get coffee and check out a historic restaurant and then stopping at a hotel for lunch (I ordered “lulas grelhadas,” very nice grilled squid) and to swim in their pool. We saw a few large monkeys along the road – the first I’ve seen in the wild! They were too quick for me to catch a photo, though.
The first weekend in April, six of us drove about 2.5 hours north to Bilene to spend some time on the Uembje lagoon. We stayed in a self-catering villa where the backdoor opened onto the beach. The water was calm and cool – though full of sea urchins! – and we ate a lot of good food and drank quite a lot of wine. It was the farthest we’ve been outside of Maputo and it was so interesting to drive and see some more of the countryside. Mozambique is currently suffering from a terrible drought, though the tropical vegetation doesn’t yet seem to mind and is still very lush and green. We stopped a few times to check out roadside pottery and weaving vendors and to try some fresh palm juice.
In other news, I started work two weeks ago! It was kind of like going from 0 to 100mph – I slept so much last weekend – but it is so good to learn and be responsible for things and meet and talk to new people and have a routine. My job is multi-faceted and a great challenge, I hope to serve the community well. My co-worker is leaving soon for a three-week vacation; here’s hoping I can hold everything together!