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Monday, January 26, 2004

Had a very nice lazy weekend. Went out on friday to the Thai restaurant for the first time in months (see blog ages ago). Service had certainly improved, although eating so much spicy food probably wasn't the cleverest idea given that as soon as the rain stopped the heat magically reappeared in the streets. So by the time we had finished I was fairly overcome. Then ended up going out with new squeeze, a slightly chaotic night but not as mad as last weekend (censored from this blog for political reasons, I'm afraid).

On Saturday I finally starting looking seriously for a car to buy, as always Maputo puts its own twist on the matter. By midday when I rolled out of bed many of the dealerships were closed. However when I walked past a big swanky looking Mazda place that I had discounted as the lights already seemed to be out, the surprisingly keen security guard ushered me in
"Its still open, man, go on"
"Really? But its all dark.."
"No, honest, I'm sure there's someone in there".

So I go in to these dark high-ceilinged halls, very glossy but almost bereft of Mazdas.
"Hello"
"Yeah yeah grunt" comes a voice from right at the back.
I was fairly hoping they would actually be interested in selling so I pretend I haven't heard Mr. Lazy.
"HELLO?"
"Yeah, come on to the back" (rough translation, but in Portuguese he was pretty rude).

I walk up and right against the back wall is a guy shuffling paper.
"So, are you still open?"
[grumpily] "Well by rights I should be closed now..."
"So do you actually sell cars here? I want to buy a car"
"Yes" [turns back to his computer screen, grumpiness = max]

At this point I have had enough so I raise my eyebrows and leave, to complete non-concern by employee.

Just up the road I find somewhere more promising, a forecourt crammed full of shinily-polished Corollas and Sunnys. Unfortunately the employees look characteristically dejected, and only when I wend my way into the wee office at the back do I find Mr. Ibrahim who is willing to wheel and deal. We discuss some prices and then I ask him about guarantees, after putting on my best straight face.
"You must understand, its a hassle to send cars back to S.A. once they are imported [they are all brought from Japan to Durban and then driven up the coast]. So we do /very extensive/ tests over there before we even bring the cars here. On top of that, we're a respectable firm, we have a name to protect - so we don't want to go along selling shit."
"Hmm, yes, I can see all that. But just to get this clear - if I were to buy that car there [cameron points at a 1993 Bluebird] today, and then tomorrow it went 'bang' how much help would I get from you?"
"Err, none".
"Just checking".

Not that this was a surprise. A guy in the office has a mate who is a mechanic, so I can ask him to check over whatever I finally light my eye on...

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Friday, January 23, 2004

Boy is it raining! Yesterday morning it was bucketing and our end of 25th September (the main street in downtown Maputo) was soon underwater. It relented in the afternoon and there were many relieved faces among the Mozambicans - the memory of the floods in 2000 is still fresh. But by evening time it had started again, really heftily this time, and I went to bed with the verandah half submerged. When I woke up it was still going and has begun to cause a reasonable amount of chaos - half the workforce in the city either can't get to their office or has to stay at home to save their possessions from the √°gua.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

And then there were 4..... Another one of the original Samurai has been given the heave-ho in the same shady fashion as the previous one.
The battle for supremacy between two opposing philosophies of how to run the project (well, calling the other side a philosophy is being polite) is increasingly out in the open. Whoever wins will certainly take all, I don't think there will be much room for compromise.

Meanwhile, it was so hot and windless last night that I slept on the verandah on a mat. I was OK for a few hours until it started raining on me. At that point I reckoned the rain would keep the mosquitoes away and managed to sleep inside.

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Friday, January 16, 2004

It is lunchtime now and still pouring down in sheets, only now do I recall that the start of the year is flood season in Moz...

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At last some rain has come, this morning at breakfast it was actually cold, I sat there eating dry bread and stiff peanut butter with the kitchen door open, relishing the chill wind.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Here are some other blogs from people on our project (most of them are in Portuguese so you'll just have to use babel.altavista.com)

AbstractPlain (Neill)
Maputo Connection (Marco)

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Calor calor calor! Three days with no rain and not much wind have made the pavement bake. Even walking slowly is an effort in concentration.

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Thursday, January 08, 2004

It has been brought to my attention by several people that I am crap at putting up photos on the web. Well, yes. I have actually taken loads, it is just getting round to tidying them up and uploading them etc etc. Luckily Neill who is now here is much more effective with his Digitul Kamera than me, especially the uploading, so I shall soon be able to point you at his foties.

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And then there were five....

One of the original 7 samurai has just left the project - or rather been booted off in a rather dodgy piece of political manouevring. Since the cuban guy went several months ago, that means there are only 5 of us left. The whole thing is rather shady, I shall keep you posted.

In other news, I managed to stand on my laptop the other night, giving the bottom-right corner of my screen a nice 'broken window' effect. Some smart-arse at work said "oh, is that a screensaver" to which I sadly replied "no" but now everyone thinks that's an h-o-mclarious joke and keeps repeating it every time they come up to my desk. I have to admit it was a pretty dim thing to do though.

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