Like every place on this fine earth, Nampula has its pros and cons. It might take longer, sometimes a lot longer, to see the pros, but then there are some days when it all just seems worth it.  Below are some examples of the good, bad and downright ugly. And there also thos glorious moments when you look around and say “aaaahhhhhh….”

The Bad:

Ok, living in Nampula isn’t exactly luxury living. The streets are dirty, the park has no grass (for some reason I can’t understand – with all that rain it will grow), there are constantly potholes in the roads.

Finding certain foods is a long process. Although there is a Shoprite in town, they seem to have not stocked up in a while and the stuff they have had for ages and not been able to sell is still sitting at the same price which is more than anywhere else. But there are several small shops but in order to complete a full shopping list one will end up at almost all of these, finding a couple of things here and one there. They are spread out over town so it is tiring and hot work. Of course they all seem to have the same suppliers so when one shop is out of something, they all are, unless you’re lucky.

So, you can’t plan for anything. Example. I brought some Tahini back with me from SA to hummus. There are always loads of chickpeas about and I have been dreaming about it for months. But, the chickpeas are all gone now and I am stuck on the other side of short of my hummus recipe.

They rely too much on goods from other places – the great milk debate going on in SA has finally hit us – the long life supplies are out and only small steri stumpies of milk, from Zimbabwe, are available. When those run out or Robbie decides to confiscate the cows, we are going to have our coffee black.

Weevils reign the land and can be found in anything, even the curry powder, even in the cereal sealed in a plastic container – the conclusion is that they are there to begin with – not a nice thought.

Stomach bugs do lots of rounds but then there are the parasites, that can get into your body in any number of ways, the food in a restaurant, the water you use to brush your teeth, the general grime – I have learnt what it means to take anti parasite stuff on a regular basis.

Wine is really expensive

Shops are closed from 12 till 2 but some only open again at 3, which is unknown until you get there.

The bread has no preservatives so it goes stale after only a few hours.

Stubbing a toe in the market will lead to an infection that will threaten to eat the entire toe and lead to amputation

The Good:

Driving over potholes in a strong 4X4 is fun. And I like the sound of diesel engines turning – lucky there are loads of those here.

Going from shop to shop hunting for certain food stuffs can be an adventure and helps one get to know the town and where the best bargains are. It’s also a great ay to keep fit – like a gym and sauna in one.

Planning is boring. Nampula encourages spontaneity. And there are always surprises, like finding chick peas in the BP garage shop by accident.

Drinking milk isn’t all that good for us so not such a bad thing being forced into abstinence. And Shoprite has a years supply of soya milk for some reason.

Stomach bugs may be unpleasant but they help with weight loss and make you really appreciate your health when you get it back.

Again, getting over those nasty addictions is easy when you can’t get it.

Waiting from 2 to 3 for the shop you want to finally open is a good opportunity to sit in an airconditioned pastelaria and have a coffee.

If the bread is stale I can’t eat it – that’s a good thing.

OK, toe infections just aren’t good no matter how you look at it but the market, albeit dirty as hell, is a great place to buy fresh food and find new stuff and to practice speaking Portuguese.

The Ugly:

Nampula is an ugly city – when you are in the thick of it, that is. The buildings are all dirty and look run down, the architecture is also damn ugly and every wall, balcony and entranceway is infected with the fattest, ugliest burgler bars money can buy.

The glorious:

The view of Nampula from the top of the Girassol building, big monoliths and palm trees hiding the bairos, looking like the very picture of a romantic tropical outpost.

The drive to the coast, in either direction – lots of space, greenery, big trees, villages and colour. This is the Africa of my dreams!