Sunday, 12 February 2012

Maputo - Mozambique

Thursday February 9th - Day 36

Maputo, originally Lourenco Marques before independence, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is often called the 'city of acacias' in reference to the acacia trees found along its avenues.
With a population in excess of 1,800,000 its chief exports are cotton, sugar, chromite, sisal, copra and hardwood. It is estimated that 80% of the city's population live in slums without running water or electricity but there are also areas near the beach where the houses are large and luxurious.
Originally we could not decide whether to go ashore here as several guests had said there was little or nothing in Maputo worth seeing...glad we didn't listen to them. We decided to take the Maputo highlights tour and are very glad that we did. Our three hour tour started at the central market which not only sold fish but vegetables, household goods and souvenirs...even wigs...see photo - but we were told to take care of our cameras, wallets and purses etc.
We then went on to the catholic cathedral with its beautiful stained glass windows but were disappointed that the steps to the cathedral and outside areas were littered with rubbish and broken glass.
Lots of the buildings were either in the Portuguese or art deco style and we also visited the 'House Of Iron' which was a nineteenth century colonial house that was built in Europe and then reassembled here using steel plates that proved uninhabitable in this tropical climate.
Our guide Rosita took us to a modern catholic church which is locally known as the Lemon Squeezer due to it unusual design and shape. Normally visitors would only be able to take photos of the outside but Rosita knew one of the Fathers so we were allowed to go inside to view its stained glass windows and wonderful ceiling apex where the light streamed in creating a star effect.
After a quick stop at the craft market we drove up along the coast to an area called Costa Do Sol before returning for a quick stop at the beautiful art nouveau railway station which was built in the early twentieth century by Gustave Eiffel.
Unfortunately half way through the tour my new camera ran out of battery power  - I will have to sack the know who you are Vance!! Many thanks to Justine for being the backup blog photographer for the rest of the tour.
On returning to the ship anyone who had purchased wooden carvings, tapestries or carpets had to hand the items into the security station to have them quarantined for forty eight hours in the freezer.
Time change forward one hour tonight so we are now three hours ahead of UK time.

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