(Yes, I know this blog thing is a bit late, but I blame a lot of things- job hunting, flat hunting, and actually enjoying my holiday so much that the last thing I felt like was writing about it. So there you go. Sorry. Will slap own wrists later on.)
After Pretoria, it was time for what I'd planned to be the highlight of my trip: Mozambique. I'd wanted to go to Moz for years, mainly because of it's fantastic infusion of African and Latin cultures, combining what I best love- music, dance, rhythm, vibrancy and that laid-back, not-in-a-hurry-to-do-anything-but-stare-at-sky -attitude. I had high hopes as Therese's lovely friend, Anneke, dropped us off to the bus station in Pretoria. Another nightbus- we wandered around the station, Rich eating bacon, me eating chocolate, and decided to book our train tickets from Jo'burg to Cape Town for the end of the month.
We were the only white people at the train station (the stretch on the local trains between Jo'burg and Pretoria is known for muggings) and, although I am used to being stared at, this was different- it wasn't a curious stare, it was downright odd stare- white people do not go to train stations to queue. Or it might have just been down to our dirty backpacks and general dishevelled look.
As morning arose, we were suddenly at the border. The border hadn't opened yet, but an incredible, winding and chaotic queue had formed; animals, vehicles of all types, people, bags, furniture, litter, hawkers, money changers. The queue for people snaked around so far I couldn't see the immigration building, and I watched cars loaded so full of people and stuff pass that the bottom literally scraped the floor even on flat surface. One tiny car had several mattresses, a sofa, some chairs and dozens of little bags strapped to it- and that was just on the roof. Ah, the joys of border crossings.
I liked Maputo; not for any particular reason, but simply because it was a nice city. Africa's claim to fame is certainly not its fantastic cities, so whenever I come across a city that I do like, I get slightly excited. Maputo is also user-friendly- most cars are not out to get you, and you can walk fairly safely to pretty much everywhere. The slightly odd hostel owner (who called me ice-cream girl and appointed me to work as an assistant manager) had kindly given us a detailed map, listing the no-go areas around the perimeter of the town, and we happily followed his instructions. I tried to sneakinly photograph strangers, and loved the slightly run-down centre of town- each buildings seemed to have been painted in a different colour, and the result was a happy mixture of yellows, greens and reds which worked perfectly. Why can't London be like that? We spent a few nice days walking around, eating ice-cream (on second thoughts, that probably where the hostel manager got the name for me) and shopping for crafts.
Now, when I see a crafts market, I get excited. Obviously, I'm a girl and therefore like shopping- however, I also like haggling; something which most people either hate, or seriously dislike. Sure, sometimes you can't be bothered- like when the starting price is so high that you know you'll spend several hours getting down to a reasonable price- or when you really have no intention of buying anything. I haggle even when I don't want to buy anything. It's a cultural experience which I'd recommend to anyone. You start by asking for the price, which is usually astronomical- such as, say $15 for a bangle. Fine. Insert a small laughter, or suchlike, and offer 50 cents, and you're off.
One of the most fantastic things about travelling with a boyfriend is that you can do the good guy/ bad guy routine. I would play daft and be really keen on an item; Rich would look bored and annoyed and tell me to hurry up. I'd say that the price was reasonable; Rich would retort that the price was silly and he wouldn't allow me to pay that much. I'd shrug my shoulders and say, well, if my husband says that, then I can't do anything about it... And whoosh, the price would plummet. It never failed. Well, at least not very often.
I could've easily stayed in Maputo for longer, had it not been for the tempting picture-perfect beaches up north, and the train ticket for Cape Town, which would also dictate when we had to be back in South Africa. But Tino, if you do read this- we'll be back one day!