Monday, July 07, 2003

Well yesterday I spent my first night in the flat. It really is all that. Plus the more I get to know the area its in, the better - it has everything, from late night shops to bars and restaurants of all descriptions, to tumbledown colonial mansions, to people running grocery stalls out of their front gardens.

Also, it is in an area which is home to several key government ministries. Result: power cuts and spikes are rare, and some of the streets have lighting. Today I timed walking to work: thirty minutes door-to-door, lugging a very heavy laptop, and with several stops to buy from street hawkers along the way.

The only minor hiccup so far is that I managed to lock my bedroom door - permanently, as the key snapped. So I have to get in via the verandah which also connects to the next room along. Apart from this its great. Once everyone has moved in we are going to have a barbecue (aka 'churrasco') in the enormous 'porch' (we're on the the third floor so I'm not sure if you can call it a porch).

Last night was unexpectedly cold, as was today. It seems that Maputo can get pretty windy. So at lunchtime I went for a walk around the commercial district to hunt for a blanket. Everything does seem very busy, there is a whole network of retailers, wholesalers and repair shops for everything from clothes to plumbing. However one thing I noticed was that almost every shop of any size was owned either by the Indian community (many of whom have been here for generations) or occasionally people from mainland China. Then when you move up to the big companies they are pretty much all run by South Africans, Portuguese or Brazilians. That's the impression I get at least - a very high degree of dependency on external capital and management - but I was speaking to a very switched-on Mozambican PR person at the weekend and she said that it was indeed pretty much as bad as it looks.

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