Thursday, November 12, 2009

Half a World Away

The saudades hit today. We were driving down a residential street in Richmond on our way home from Target and the nostalgia washed over me like an ocean. I don't know what triggered it, but the fact that we've left our Maputo life and friends behind sank in and really hurt. The life of the global nomad is a brilliant one, but the goodbyes and leaving parties and long-haul flights and midnight Skype calls and missed holidays and missed...everything...makes me want to cry occasionally. I'm sure we'll make friends here in the Bay (and actually have been blessed to reconnect with a few people from my high school days), but I really loved our group of friends in Maputo and wish I could transport them all here for a saideira and a taco dinner.

Other than the people, there are definitely things I miss about Maputo:

- fresh, delicious piri-piri at all restaurants
- plentiful, cheap seafood
- the slang!
- grunts, groans, whistles and other exclamations that help spice up a conversation
- weekend trips to Macaneta, Bilene, Inhaca, Kruger Park
- the tropical rain and lightning storms
- looking out over Vila Algarve
- jacarandas and flamboyants thick with lilac and scarlet blossoms
- vinho verde as our summer drink of choice
- using the pool at Hotel Terminus
- pastel de natas, rissois and good curry
- having such an international group of friends and colleagues
- telling my life story and not feeling at all different or pretentious
- music at Gil Vicente, CFM, the Franco-Moçambicano and Africa Bar
- dancing (when we actually managed to stay up that late)
- eating carvoada (grill-it-yourself fillet mignon, prawns and fruit) at Manjar dos Deuses
- the Macau restaurant, still the best Chinese food I've ever eaten
- text messaging everyone, from friends to the Minister of Agriculture
- mani/pedi at DeCali with Dona Celeste
- Zeca, his wife and little Alizinha
- fantastic Halloween parties
- the cooking and logistics that went into our annual Thanksgiving celebration
- lazy afternoon braais
- relatively easy access to beads from Ilha de Moçambique
- minimal cold weather
- being 6-10 hours ahead of everyone (the time difference living in California is killing me!)
- the occasional random peacock spotted wandering around the city streets
- sundowners with friends...

I could go on forever it seems, sappy old me...


poppy fields said...

Nostalgia is bound to hit from time to time...even 20 years later I still get lonesome for places I used to live.
I am going to try and find a bottle of vino verdhe for tonight, boy does that sound good.

R. said...

xiiii Ali, I have been following your blog religiously for weeks. I lived in Maputo for almost 4 years and left in 2003. It hit me in August, when a Mozambican friend visited us in Paris. Saudades, huge saudades, daquelas que nao largam uma pessoa um dia so.
Since then, my wife and I have been really hesitating in moving back to Maputo. We have a nice material life here in Europe, a good job with career plans, a nice apartment. Bud god we too miss those things you listed, and more !
My daughter is half mozambican and I'd always feel like growing in Maputo would not be suitable for her. But since those saudades hit me, I have been roaming on the web to find info on people who raised their child there. Could find much info but I found your blog which intensified my desire to go back there.
Your last post tends to pour more into my water mill...
I understand you run around all the time and have very little time to spare but I would really love it if you could send me some thoughts/experience about families that live in Maputo these days, and how they feel about raising their children in Maputo.
Merci pour tout,

Ali la Loca said...

~Poppy fields - Vinho verde is our very favorite. We used to drink it nearly every day during the summer. I think every time I have it now it will remind me of Maputo.

~R. - Que legal te "conhecer" aqui pelo blog. I can imagine the Maputo of the early 2000's was a very different one than the city we left in late 2009. It seemed like each week a new building went up. I just read they inaugurated a bus terminal in the baixa - imagine that!

Anyhow, as Rico and I don't have kids yet, I can't speak firsthand about family life in Maputo. That said, I know plenty of people raising their children there (from newborn through 12/13 year-olds) and the experience seems highly dependent on the parents.

There are good schools, and the opportunity to be exposed to so many languages and cultures is certainly unique for a child there. However, I think there is a risk for kids growing up "com o rei na barriga" if you are familiar with that statement. Parents need to do a vigilant job to be sure their children know the value of hard work, know they aren't necessarily entitled to everything, etc. This is true anywhere, but I think in Maputo - as an expat - it is especially so.

In other considerations, Maputo is a relatively safe city (compared to South Africa or Brazil's cities, for example) and you can get cheap help. Also, medical infrastructure in the city seems to be improving, with plans in the works to build a private hospital.

These are my (limited) thoughts on raising kids in Maputo. Hope it was of help to you!

Rê Moraes said...

Oi Ali! Acabei de te achar por um acaso no orkut...não sei se a mensagem ficou muito ruim por causa do limite de caracteres. Pena descobrir que você ja saiu de Maputo - estou indo morar lá e adoraria poder contar com a ajuda de alguém que parece tão bacana como você.

Ali la Loca said...

~Re - Tudo bem? Quase nao entro no Orkut esses dias...tenho que atualizar meu perfil! Enfim, mesmo ja tendo saido de Maputo, ainda posso te dar algumas dicas sobre a vida la. Me manda um email: rosa_brazil @ beijos!