Having lived in Mozambique for a while now, it is surprising that I have never, until now, had the chance to explore the capital city, Maputo. Oh I have heard plenty about it and most of the reviews I get are sparkling and enthusiastic accounts of a vibrant city with lots of places to see and shops to visit. Okay, many people go on and on about the virtues of Game, a South African general dealership type store that is one of my least favourite places at home but somehow seems that much more appealing when living in extreme no shopping mall conditions!

 

So, when the opportunity arose to fly in to Maputo, spend a day or 2 there and then drive the rest of the way up to Nampula came up, I was quite excited about the possibilities for exploration and discovery.

What I didn’t count on was being stuck in Maputo for 5 days, 4 days longer than I needed to realise it wasn’t all that I had built it up to be. I also went there straight from a 2 week stay in SA, so the shops didn’t seem so exciting as they could have been had I arrived hungry for a shop, just any shop I could spend some money in.

 

It’s not that Maputo is a bad place but it is too much of a combination of South Africa and any other big African city and to me has less of the uniquely Mozambican charm that is found up in the north. Too many people speak English, the big restaurants are all South African chains and it costs way more for a meal than at the same place in SA. The city also has more of a grimy feel to it and there is a dangerousness that seems to have been borrowed from its neighbouring capital, Joburg.

 

But there were some good places. The Pensao Martins where we stayed from the second night was clean and well kept and the restaurant behind, Restaurant Rimini, makes great pizzas, and, as we discovered on the last day, have a daily buffet lunch special during the week. The pool is clean and welcoming except on weekends which seem to be reserved for kiddie’s parties. There is plenty of seafood to be found, if you eat it. And there is free wireless hot spots almost everywhere!

It’s just a pity about the prices – a taxi costs double than in Nampula, the DVD’s sold on the street, same thing, drinks and food is costly, at times more so than in SA and accommodation doesn’t come cheap either. It is strange that this is the case in such a poor country. In Nampula I can understand some costs, as certain goods need to be transported a long way to get there and there is less competition but why is Maputo, which has so much more access to goods, more expensive? One has to wonder, is it the fact that it is the capital and more people earn more money there, is it that there are more tourists around, and they tend to push the prices up or are we all just being ripped off?

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