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Getting a household together from scratch in Nampula is a bit of a challenge. And an effort. The challenge is in finding all the usual household things without too much problem. The effort is the marching up and down to all sorts of shops one would never usually notice to find these same things. I have been getting quite good at it now, pratice that I’ve had.

I now know where to get material, and a good tailor to make sheets, curtains etc. I know where the best pillows are and a decent mattress at a decent price. I also know my way around buying plastics such as tupperwares, buckets and bins. I have a fair idea about furniture, even though the choice isn’t good.

But what has been alluding me for weeks has been the purchase of plates. Normal serving size dinner plates. I have sideplates and bowls and funky square bowls and pasta shallow bowls and cups and saucers. But plates seem harder to come by. (There are sets available but wanting more than 4 of each, not liking the pattern or colours and already having all the other crockery I have been looking in particular for plates sold in the singular).

After a few fruitless searches and lots of frustration I decided to give up with the active search, taking the much more Nampulan way of thinking that one day I will come across what I want, so until then, don’t worry about it.

This theory worked quicker than I thought and Sunday, helping a friend find flip flops at the market, plates were found! There was an awkward moment when I almost got 5 blue plates and one marroon but after a bitof discussion and lifting of displays I came away with 3 blue and 3 green simple but bright plates. Perfect.

In the same way, friends came by the lounge suite they have been looking for for months, perhaps even years, when shopping for their son’s birthday present, they got more than they bargained for.

The moral here is when in Nampula, have patience, all things come to those who wait, some just might take a bit longer than others!

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As the sun sets, around 5:50pm, the darkness that descends on Nampula is broken by the sharp sounds of sudden slaps coming from within the households as people settle in for the night. Or so I imagine. It is like this in my house every night that I am no longer taken by surprise, my heart ripped out of my skin, at the startling clap of hands on either side of a mosquito. In fact, I have quite taken to the sport myself, risking stings and the embarassment of clear missed swoops, all in the name of getting as many of the pests as possible. It doesn’t help, there are hundreds of them still but the moment, right after the clap, that reveals a dark smear on the palms, is reward enough.

There are other forms of mosquito slapping that require equipment more than mere hands. The Chinese shop sells mosquito zapping racquets – they have uv lights to attract the prey who get zapped in the mesh – which can be bought in pairs and a match arranged, remember to move the furniture to make some space. Then there is the more docile form of the sport, known as watching the mechanical mosquito slapper – or more commonly known as ‘the killer’ – which involves none other than a cold beer and comfy chair from which to watch those mossies get fried. (Equipment is a standing form of the racquet)

I have heard of pillow slapping, or toss the pillow at the mosquito, but this variety lends itself to more misses than hits and can be a form of frustration, especially as it seems to be played in the small hours of the morning, after being either rudely awoken or kept awake for hours.

The most dangerous form of mosquito slapping has to be mosquito slapping in the shower as it involves a subtle mix of awareness, aim, coordination and balance. One sudden move and you could be on the floor with bruised limbs and ego as the ones that got away hover above just out of reach of your soap waving arm.

What I know about the rubbish in Nampula is limited to the piles of it lying around on the pavements, spilling sometimes onto the streets. Ok, there is a lot of it but still, this is as far as my awareness went. But I have recently come across the politics of rubbish disposal in this city. I’m not sure if it is true or not and am only quoting someone else.

It first started when I noticed that during the day our empregada, the lovely Virginia, would empty the rubbish bin onto the lawn (or other random spot) and leave it there. When asking about this I was told that it is left there for the guarda who comes at night to take care of. By why? Apparently night is the time to put your rubbish in those oh so effective public rubbish bins, or rather on to the street. I still can’t quite figure out why this is. I have been told it is something to do with when the city collects the rubbish, which apparently they do during the day. I like to think that perhaps it is because dumping your rubbish next to some rusting piece of metal on the pavement is some cause for embarrasment. Then again, maybe not. I will just have to accept it as one of those strange Nampula things unless someone cares to enlighten me…

I have only been back a week and a half and I have already eaten at Batik three times and tonight will be my fourth. This is partly to do with its proximity to my house and partly because it is the most promising restaurant in Nampula at the moment..

What makes it so good is that the owners have made an effort to create some atmosphere with a comfy outside dining area, proper tablecloths and some batiks on the walls inside. Also on the plus side is the clean restrooms and the very obvious service training the staff have had. This must be the first time here that I haven’t waited at least thirty minutes for my food.

The restaurant is in two parts. One side is bakery coffee shop and the other the restaurant proper. The menu is pretty standard but they do have some good curries and a great vegetable soup. apparently the fish is good too. Drinks are a bit pricey but that comes with the territory here. All in all a good choice in Nampula. Tonight I think I will try the . . .

Batik, Rua dos Continuadores, just up from Shoprite

When two weeks turns into three months you know things are going to be different upon return. This is true of many places but, as I discovered when I arrived here after a three month break, nowhere more so than in Nampula. The city is growing so fast that you can barely take a siesta without waking up to even more cars.

But I never expected things to have moved so fast. This is, after all, still Africa and besides I have spent many a quiet day in this city wishing something would happen. Happen it did, while I was away. In just three months half the people I know here left while triple their number of foreigners seems to have arrived. I keep checking the street signs to see if I am in the same Nampula. And talking of streets, the new traffic lights are up and running, on just about every corner. From one set to twelve overnight! Most people still seem to be treating red lights as yields. As for the traffic itself, the amount of cars has grown while parking space has stayed the same creating even more chaos. I am more than happy to walk thank you.

At the same time there is now a new bank in town, Banca Terra in the Girassol, a new club, known to everyone as Club Mozambique next to the cinema, a new cafe opposite the Galp in town with the brightest decor in town and the fabulous new restaurant just up the road from Shoprite where the old Aurora was called Batik.

And of course I am now in my new house or rather we are now living in the main house and the dependencia is now the Fresh Limitada offices.