Today it is legitimately cold in Maputo. Well, cold for tropical Southern Hemisphere standards. I am wearing a silk sweater and boots, and a lightweight quilted overcoat to keep out the wind. A storm system blew in yesterday, and though it hasn’t brought any moisture yet, a cold wind howled through the flat for most of the night. I snuggled with the boys and watched a movie, complete with homemade watercress soup and a glass of Nederburg Baronne. It was a lovely evening, but getting up this morning was an entirely different story!
This past weekend was really enjoyable. On Saturday my friend C. and I went to the gym for a mid-morning workout, then hit the crafts market with Jenny. I picked up a few small gifts for people in Brazil and coveted, as usual, the beautiful Zimbabwean hand-printed textiles and the tall, intricately carved blackwood sculptures and clean-lined vases. I’ve had serious decorating fever lately, and am dying to finish beautifying our flat. We’ve already done several “improvements” – mainly painting the walls colors other than white, and putting paintings and framed photos on the walls. However, there is still much to be done. Thanks to the wedding, we are looking to get a lot of new furniture and finally upgrade from our locally-made wicker living room set. My goal is to remodel our bathroom and grotty kitchen, but that will seriously depend on our post-wedding budget.
So, after a quick tour of the crafts market, C. and I went to lunch at my neighbor’s house, a new friend we met a couple weeks ago while walking up the stairs. Hassan is my first friend in the building, something highly overdue after over 2 years living in the same flat. It is strange to me that Rico and I haven’t met our neighbors until now, in particular compared to my apartment in Austin where I was friends with just about everyone in the small courtyard complex and would regularly get together with neighbors for dinner, a swim at the pool, coffee, parties, etc. Anyhow, Hassan is a really interesting guy, probably in his late 30’s or early 40’s. He has traveled all around the world with his job in border and immigration security systems, and is full of incredible stories about Angola and Sudan and India and all of the other places he’s lived and worked. Hassan, C. and I all got along quite well, and he kindly invited us over for a lavish lunch on Saturday. It was delicious – homemade apas, lamb curry, daal, salad and for dessert Sharon fruit and ice cream. The meal prompted me to do internet research on Sharon fruit, but that is the topic for another post.
After lunch C. and I hit Woolworth’s for some grocery shopping. I cruised the nearly-expired items as usual, as the shop’s normal prices are far beyond what I am willing to pay for food in Maputo. I picked up some ricotta cheese, hake fillets and yogurt.
Later that evening I went to Marcos and Kelly’s house to watch a movie and hang out. They kindly invited me over, as they know Rico is away and wanted to be sure I wasn’t feeling lonely.
Sunday morning started off with a bang, as I was woken up at 6am by an insistent pounding on the front door. It was the guard, Sr. Augusto, informing me that once again they had failed to adequately look after the cars the previous night and that the side mirrors had been stolen off our CR-V. Grrrrrrrr. I understand that this is part of Maputo life, but I find it very frustrating that there are 2-3 guards in front of our building at all times, and the cars are parked not 20m from where they sit, yet things are still stolen all the time. The reason is that most of the time the guards sleep through their night shifts, which I suppose is understandable if they doze off while sitting outside the building at their watch-posts, but the other day I came home to find one of the guards inside the covered entrance, lying down under a blanket with his jacket bunched up to use as a pillow, snoring contently and not even stirring as I walked by and said quite loudly “Boa noite!” I think it’s time for another discussion about what we expect from the Guardas once Rico is back in town.
Today Zeca, our super taxi driver, bought 2 replacement mirrors for me at Estrela, the stolen car parts market. Last time they were 1.000 meticais for a pair; now they’ve hiked their prices up to 1.500, though Zeca negotiated them down to 1.200 meticais, the equivalent of US$50. I had our license plate number sand-blasted into the mirrors, so supposedly they won’t be stolen again because they now have no resale value, however I wouldn’t be surprised were they to disappear anyway…
I’m getting really excited for the wedding. It’s less than a month away! I leave for Rio on the 18th, so this next weekend is my last one in Maputo as a single woman. Instead of a wild bachelorette party, we’re going to do something a bit more my style. Jenny has planned a girl’s weekend at a spa on a rose farm in Mpumalanga Province just across the border in South Africa. I’m looking forward to massages, manicures, facials, rose petal and milk baths, lots of good food and wine, and quality time with my girls – something we sadly don’t seem to get enough of on a regular basis.
Rico and I have been apart several times before, and while it was never easy (especially the times he was gone for 3-5 months at a time), this is by far the hardest it’s ever been for me to be separated geographically. I am overwhelmed by paranoia, or superstition, or whatever you want to call it. I’m having a hard time controlling disastrous thoughts of plane crashes, violent assaults, car accidents, lost wedding rings, lost wedding dress, sudden illness, and many other flourishes of my imagination. I have this acute fear that now, just as everything is about to come together and I am incredibly happy, the floor will drop out from underneath me and life will have a spiteful laugh in my face. I’m afraid that all of my past poor choices, moral transgressions, mistakes and sins will karmically come rushing back and take away the good things I have coming my way.
I know I can’t control anything but myself, but it’s been difficult to let go and accept that what will be will be. I’ve been trying to breathe, mediate, journal, etc. but I haven’t found much relief. The one thing that has made me feel more grounded has been praying, out loud, to God. I’m not much of a religious person (though we are set to be married in the Anglican church next month), and I don’t tend to pray like this in my “regular” life, but it is the one thing that has made it easier to get through this time of crazy emotions. I feel like if I am praying to God and things still go wrong, at least it wasn’t for lack of expressing my desires and fears clearly. I will feel somehow comforted, as if it were all part of a grand plan that I don’t yet understand, but that I can have faith in and believe is the right thing for me. Still, Please God watch after me, everyone I love, and everyone who loves me. Watch over Rico and everyone he loves, and everyone who loves him. Let our families and friends travel and stay in Rio safely. Let us come together on our wedding day in happiness, peace and love. Amen.