Wednesday, June 4, 2008

goodbye mozambique, hello namibia!

i finished my 2 weeks in mozambique with one more night in maputo. i landed with a few hours of sunlight left, eager to explore this urban delight. the sky was already turning golden as i raced around the streets in a brisk walk.
i saw some kids with kites made out of garbage bags, just like the one i bought in northern neck and played kite runner with. there was a boy with a monstrous pile of VHS tapes in those plastic cases like they have (had) at the library. he was selling them for 50 cents each. there was a small mob arguing over a copy of rocky III.
it was friday rush hour, so hustle and bustle. pretty nice. finally, as darkness lingered i raced back to my hotel for safety, and a fantastic 7 hours of internet, catching up on emails, bills, fixing my mp3 player (yes!! finally), deciding to go to congo after namibia??
the hotel insisted i get a taxi at 5am for my 7am flight the next day. i woke up after only an hour sleep at 4:30 to take a shower. the water was hot for two seconds and then freezing cold. this went on for 10 cycles until i finally gave up. this has been THE trip of cold water showers, from before i left DC, when my hot water heater conked all the way until now. all. cold. showers. argh. i got dressed and headed down to the reception and let them have an earful. i'm not sure where it came from, maybe the beehive that has become my hair but i let out the most fantastic porto-spanglish i have ever heard.
i was all, 3 star hotel, eh? more like NO stars! the concierge guy was verrry apologetic. he offered me another room, yeah, thanks, that's really useful now.
it was dark, really cold, and i get into this beat up old car that has SPRINTER written on the side. there are no headlights, lots of metal hitting metal sounds where the wheels and engine are, and what looks like the result of a horse vs. windshield accident: windshield lost. he's telling me how it's the worst time to drive, that everyone is drunk from their friday night. indeed, i see a lot of swerving cars, people running red lights and running into sidewalks. cool.
the street names are all karl marx ave, stalin street, lenin road and east timor ave. huh?
the driver puts on his seat belt, first time i've ever seen one in use. very dangerous! he says, and i don't know if he's referring to the streets or his own car, where safety isn't exactly paramount. we pass some kids making a huge bonfire on the sidewalk where there was a fruit market the day before.
we come to an intersection with a dude totally naked except for a ratty t-shirt that just barely hides his privates. instead of feet he has ankle nubs to which flip flops are tied with a thick string. like peg legs. how does this guy manage to stand? i'm impressed. he approaches the taxi and starts screaming flailing his arms wildly. we get a nice little peep show. maputo style!
during the rest of the trip the driver comments on how dark it is, how early it is, how well he is driving and i'm agreeing, yes! indeed! claro que si! what i realized at the end is that he was justifying the reasons to raise the cost of this trip. i had unknowingly talked myself into a $20 cab ride. eh, it's still dark out, i'm tired, the airport isn't actually open so i have to sit on the sidewalk...i don't actually don't care, dude. i still had a wad of mets and no discoteca to spend it in. whatever. goodbye mozambique!
and hello namibia! what a delightful surprise! the airport is clean, shiny, a working conveyor belt and these cute little carts. my cell phone works. with email. a driver with a shiny corolla is waiting for me. the airport parking lot looks like the new one at charles de gaulle. this is weird.
we drive through a desert landscape that looks a lot like the causse mejean. there are lots of road signs for towns, narrow shoulders, passing lanes. they are all written in the curvy sans serif font on bright clean signs like you see in france. we drive into windhoek and there are no crazy homeless people, just clean streets, smiling people, bright modern buildings...are we still in africa? seriously.

1 comment:

VH said...

Wow! Sounds rough. I remember having to deal with cold water showers in the Dominican Republic. At the time they only had electricity for a couple of hours at a time. So there were times when you had no running water at all. That was years ago, I hear it has improved. You are brave, though.