Monday, February 14, 2005

A visit to Namaacha.
Last weekend Nina and I had planned to visit sunny Xai-Xai by the sea. But after quite a lot of beers (mainly drunk by me) on Friday night, we woke up on saturday morn and balked at the 3+ hours on ropey roads. So we ended up visiting Namaacha instead, which turned out great.

It is right at the border with Swaziland, on top of some low mountains so the temperature is cooler and even almost cold at night. We had a whole apparently 3-star hotel to ourselves. Someone has built this huge modern hotel there, but from the main road it is almost impossible to find. We did not complain as the rooms were still new and we effectively had our own private swimming pool. The food was terrible, however - my ´sirloin´ was in fact a tough old boot - only differing from the other steaks on the menu in terms of price.

Anyway we walked around the paths which criss-cross the hillside between the trees (mainly still native, with Eucalyptus creeping in here and there). At one point we came across the local store and tiptoed in to buy toothpaste which we had forgotten. I say tiptoed because the whole floor was covered with local kids gawk-eyed at the telly on the edge of the counter. The occasion was saturday´s episode of ´Novela da Preta´ (lit. ´The Black girl´s soap´). This is the latest Brazilian megasoap to hit Moz, the official name is ´Passion of a Woman´ or Passion of somethingorother but here it is universally known as ´Preta´, after the star. She is black which is a rarety in these soaps, generally full of rich, upper-class, and very white brazilians. Just to make sure you notice, the scriptwriters also named her character ´Black´ (Preta). In fact she mainly seems to rush around weeping a lot, but whatever the reason, this soap is ´unmissable´ here.

All this meant that once I reached the counter I had to stretch around the telly screen to avoid scowls from the locals, as I attempted to converse with the half-asleep shopkeeper. Eventually I got my colgate, and was able to move away from the vicinity of the screen. At this point I was let off, and for a moment the gawk-eyes took in me and Nina, in our city clothes etc. Then we said ´good afternoon´ to which everyone replied very politely, and we dissappeared out the door, leaving them to Preta.

On the way back on sunday, we passed some hills that were so nice I just had to stop the car and walk around on them. Hence a pic of Nina pretending to come out of a mud hut which as any fule kno is where everyone in Africa lives. In fact her feet were being attacked by vicious ants and she was not v. impressed at being asked to pose for photo so she is not pretending very well.

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