Monday, July 14, 2003

As it turned out I didn´t go to South Africa because I couldn´t get a copy of my criminal record ready in time. But I didn´t miss much as the Mozambican consulate in Nelspruit was closed. Instead I had a relaxing Saturday – sleeping, eating, and buying things for the house in a haphazard fashion.

This was partly due to laziness on my part, but partly due to force of circumstances. I went with my flatmate to three supermarkets in a row on the hunt for cutlery and crockery. In the first two there was no cutlery and the only bowls they had were mega-tacky pretend-ornate ´china´ stuff, in brightly coloured boxes a little faded from the sun.

However in the third supermarket, the huge (for Maputo) “China-Mozambique Friendship Store” we thought we were in luck. We collected bowls and mugs, and then around a corner we found some knives. All made in China and fairly sturdy looking. But only one spoon – we needed four. I took it to the cash desk and asked the girl if they had any more. “No, they´re all finished”.
“So, when will you have some more – next week maybe?”.
“Next month!

Not to be disheartened (as the spoon was very reasonably priced) we hunted for a supervisor and asked her – but the story was the same. Given that many of China´s consumer goods industry are groaning under the weight of their overcapacity and ´me-too´ expansion strategies, one might have thought that the supermarket (all the managers are mainland Chinese) would have been a bit snappier on the restocking. Especially since upstairs they had huge but almost untouched aisles of random stuff that no-one seemed to want: children´s beach pails, preserved fruits, ´Scientifically proven´ fat-reducing herbal tea, etc.

On the other hand the supermarket has only been open about a month so give it time. Despite its occasionally bizarre selection of goods it is a step up from some of the other ´supermercados´, plus the staff are all very good-looking which is a bonus.

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