Monday, May 04, 2009

The Chicory Way

All I wanted was a nice, strong coffee. Espresso, preferrably.

We were pleasantly tired from a long weekend at Tofo, and had a six hour drive ahead of us back to Maputo. We'd heard good things about a litte breakfast spot in Inhambane city, however it being a Sunday (and the end of a holiday at that), nearly everything was closed. We searched for Verdinho, but no luck. We drove by Maçaroca, only to be greeted by iron bars across the door. Finally, we settled for the only open place we could find in the city: Tic Tac snack bar.

I must say, I can't give old Tic Tac a rave review. The only other patrons were beyond drunk at 10am, and still pounding the beers (perhaps this should have been a clue as to what we could expect from the place). They argued passionately but aimlessly, as only the inebriated can do. I snickered to myself as they discussed with slurred voices whether or not one's Mother is mere family or, in fact, closer to God.

The waiter finally came around, and we had some severe lost in translation moments. For a while, I thought it was our accents, with each person at the table speaking a different version of Portuguese (brasileiro, portunhol, gringo-total). After a while, we agreed that the difficulties were, in fact, not language-related. The guy was simply quite thick - or perhaps recovering from a massive night of drinking - either one a plausible scenario.

We asked for coffee, and after many attempts back and forth, the waiter finally understood what we wanted. However, instead of a strong cup of brewed bliss, we received a pitcher of hot water, a rusted can of Ricoffy and a tin of leite condensado. There was a plastic lid over the condensed milk that looked to be cultivating some mold, but I chose to ignore the moist greenish spots. I needed the stuff to make the Ricoffy palatable. Of all the foods/beverages I've tried in Mozambique, Ricoffy is most certainly in my top five most despised.

Still, coffee is coffee, even when it comes in dehydrated granular form and is mixed with chicory and potentially spoiled milk. I drank away, as did my travel companions, trying to ignore the desire to gag.

Something about the experience left me oddly satisfied, as if the disappointment of the coffee and frustratingly slow waiter magnified that which was beautiful about the moment. I was among friends, the taste of the sea still on my lips. I was surrounded by faded colonial architecture and blue skies. Stress had melted away over the course of the weekend, and I'd done much reflection on the fact that Rico and I are fast approaching the end of an era with our September departure from Mozambique, and how the prospect of finite goodbyes actually spurs me to fully enjoy every remaning moment of the experience.

What importance could possibly be held in a stale-sweet cup of Ricoffy and lamentable service? It was a good reminder about not taking things for granted, not setting expectations. Deixe andar. Seja o que for. Venha o que vier. Increasingly, I am convinced this is a key mindset to finding happiness.

No comments: