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Saturday 24 February we fly over Nampula ready for our descent into what is to be my new home. The flight had been a bit bumpier than I would have liked towards the end of the flight, trying to fly through gathering storm clouds is never going to be smooth and at least it wasn’t that pesky second cyclone they have been talking about making its way here from Madagascar.

I realized that even now on my third visit I am starting to be able to recognize some landmarks such as the cathedral, the hospital and the Nampula rocks. Okay, these are the largest landmarks and not easy to miss but it was a grand feeling being up there in the sky looking down on my chosen city.

Nampula airport is one of those typical African airports. There is the tarmac with one or two medium sized planes and a couple of requisite charter planes sitting around. The terminal is one squat dirty white building with a row of wooden framed glass doors and a viewing deck upstairs. Immediately inside is the baggage conveyer. The row of trolleys give one false hope of an easy way to carry out all that stuff of yours until you realize that you are not allowed to take this with you out the building exit which is about 20 meters from where you collect your bags.

Outside and on the short drive to Tobias’ flat the city makes itself known, welcoming me back with an assault of hooters blasting, people conducting conversations that sound closer to raised argument, a moving blanket of bright colours as women weave their way through the foot traffic everywhere on the streets, past the barras and market stalls. The smell is sweat and dirty at the same time and the haze owes itself as much to the coming rains as the dust kicked up by hundreds of feet scuffing back and forth, the carrying point for those heavy loads perched on top of heads.

It’s hot here – very, very, very hot. And the flat is even hotter – built in a way that keeps in the heat (just in case it ever gets cold…) We dump our bags and slump into the chairs, vying for the best position in front of the fan aka ‘The airplane’. Nothing happens for a while as we are all too hot to do anything other than think about how hot it is. I realize just how difficult it will be to get myself into some sort working routine in this place. Jack manages to get himself together for a quick 3 hour long catch up with his manager Nox while I get it together to lift up my book and read without too much exertion. Tobias has predicted a 2pm start to the rain but today it starts early with a steady drizzle. At 2 though the real rain starts – big loud rumbles of thunder, bright yellow flashes and the sky dumps its load keeping its pace for the next few hours.

We dash our way to the car, drive a minute down the road to Copacabana –  a restaurant I predict I am going to be establishing quite a frequent relationship with – and dash out the car, over a small river down the verge of the road in into the safety of the copacabana covers. We order 2M beers all round and pizzas. We get our beers and another 2 rounds before, it seems, they have even thought about making our food. Eventually we ask for the bread rolls and butter we should have received on arrival, hoping this will satisfy our hunger till whatever time our food arrives. But this is usual – the game is to guess who will receive their pizza first and who last, the pizza oven is only able to make one at a time. Jack is the unlucky one today – his pizza arriving a good 20 minutes after the rest. But there is nothing to be done than accept the slow pace of this restaurant, of anything in this town – and I understand it, in fact I can almost see myself enjoying it, when I’m not in a hurry of course.

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