The Other Side

Three days ago we crossed the Marginal at noon and the first thing Paul noticed was the strong southeast wind. Our purpose was a visit to the land we see from Maputo: Tembe’s land or Catembe.

Catembe is separated from the town where we live by Maputo Bay and three rivers. During colonial rule it was called Baía do Espírito Santo (Holy Spirit Bay) owing to the number of existing rivers: Maputo, Matola and Umbeluzi.

There’s a bridge projected, still if you want to visit Tembe’s land you have to cross the sea in small boats (usually used by working people) or by ferryboat transporting cars, everybody and everything.

The ferry was almost full of family weekenders, Mozambican couples and German tourists. Once arrived on the other side, we took the hotel car already waiting for us. The trip to the hotel was short yet adventurous. Everybody smiled due to the incredible jumps of the car on the dirt road: family weekenders, mixed couples and… German tourists.

We had lunch on a balcony exposed to the wind and the sun. We usually prefer this to the inside option. We ordered: Laurentina staut, grilled red mullet with stir-fry vegetables for Paul; seafood salad (tomato, onions, pepper, prawns and calamari, with my own dressing) and mineral water for me. Two families, a lone (Portuguese?) guy and… two male German tourists occupied the next tables.

After lunch came the daring part of this journey: we walked 5Km through the beach with strong wind to reach the ferryboat supposed to take us back home, along with noisy groups of weekenders and… a few German tourists.

A Sunday walk like this, including all expenses (ferry, hotel car, swimming pool and lunch), will cost you a total of USD25 per couple. What are you still doing at home?

However, the fun part stops here, because Paul didn’t like the walk. When I was taking this picture, a group of young Mozambicans tried to talk with me in English. I think it was just innocent talk, they kept asking me to take their picture. Paul went into defense mode, dragged me all the way to the ferryboat where I arrived exhausted (5Km walking on sand!), with my feet badly hurt, especially my left foot. I had to stretch the arm he was holding because something wasn’t right with it.

Besides what I consider a big reaction to a small incident (I always feel more secure on a Mozambican beach than in most of the places I’ve been before), he also didn’t like the crowd near the ferry. I didn’t notice it, anyway. While I was being dragged, in part to avoid stopping for photos, I could only think of happy and wonderful things. At same point, I remember comparing African and Western poetry. The last one centralized on individual and concepts, the other dealing with feelings and nature. I remembered two lines of a poem I don’t even know the name of the author or if this is the perfect quote: “I have the claws of a men in my flesh/I bleed for him delights of love”. I think it is charming the way they entwine deep feelings with elements of nature.

In Paul’s opinion, we will only return to Catembe during weekdays. Weekends are too busy for his tastes. I only regret the wrong sandals for such big walk and the fact that I couldn’t swim with my cherry bikini due to the strong wind. Maybe he is right because it felt good to be back home.