One of the sad things about South African culture is that we have lost the ritual of the market. In its place we have shopping centers and big chain supermarkets. There are some markets but they are not central to our daily routine.

I love markets, maybe because I have been so deprived. So one of my first missions in Nampula was to get to the market, only a few blocks from the flat. The entrance is two black metal gates opening onto rows of concrete counters and a low, flat concrete roof.


There is some kind of order here – eggs first, then biscuits and sweets imported from the UAE or
Indonesia, these are sold alongside school stationery courtesy of china. But what I am really looking for is the food – vegetables and fruit. And there is plenty in this department. I am in fact quite surprised at my choice since Jack has often complained to me about the lack of fresh food when he is here in
Mozambique. But I find not only mangoes and pineapples but giant avocados, tomatoes, lemons, limes and oranges, papaya and coconut. Then there is garlic, cucumber, fresh herbs from parsley to coriander, lettuce, cabbage and of course chillis. And unlike almost everything else in this city, this produce is not expensive, in fact, some of it is downright cheap like paying R1 for a huge handful of chillis or R10 for 2 enormous avocadoes.


And then I discover the rices, the legumes – beans with names and shapes I don’t know – the pulses and the rows upon rows of spice sachets wrapped into coils that spill over the concrete counters. Shoprite has nothing on this place!


There is still plenty for me to discover here and I get the feeling that it will be the place that I learn the most Portuguese as most vendors conduct strings of conversation with me while I nod and try to understand.