Second Lives


It was just one of those annoying domestic nuisances. Our old bath boiler wasn’t working properly and we, suddenly aware of the impressive cylindrical object, realized that it had been unstoppably working for more than a decade without a single complain. And how it had reasons to complain!


Calling the technician is not an easy task round here. After a few unsuccessful tries, someone gave us a number. Help arrived less than one hour later in the form of a blue-eyed middle aged Italian. Where on earth are the Mozambicans plumbers? We can only rely on European know-how even for that?


Before I could start guessing what he was up to in this side of the planet, I was “forced” to hear a phone call full of the word “amore”, ergo concluding that he was just another “second life” kind of guy.


The “second lives”, as I call them, have more than 40 and less than 70, they came from different backgrounds and most of the ones I know are European. They abandon a former unfulfilling personal life and a disappointing society, eventually after facing some kind of failure, and seek refuge in Mozambique.


They arrive with a few savings and soon discover how easy is to form a brand new family in this part of the world. The availability of women is enormous in Mozambique. They are very young, very clever in certain aspects and very submissive. They demand very little in exchange for their company. In a society where women are the main providers, finding a man who pays the bills is a truly jackpot.


I met my first “second life” long ago. He is a special man. He was powerful in Europe until the day a business of his went bankrupt. Instead of facing his family and his partners, he just flew to Mozambique. This is one exceptional, intelligent, well-informed and well-connected man. When he came to Mozambique he was the same 60 years fellow I knew from previous contacts. A few months later he was already involved with a 16 years girl with whom he had a little mulatto son. Later on he got involved in a court fight over properties and son. He got the son, but lost all he had. That’s how he came to work for us. Over the years that first romance multiplied. I don’t know how many children he has by now. The last time I heard from him he was paying the bills of a twenty-something student, a girl described to me as voracious.


The second case I could observe closely was of a man who came to Mozambique to check business opportunities. He was sent to us as an interesting investing partner. Among other things, he owned a well-succeeded construction company. He was a short, gentle and smart looking man on his fifties. We talked with him and we even had a dinner together before he disappeared from our sight. We assumed he had returned to Europe and simply forget about him.


Three months after our first contacts with him, we received a phone call from someone who identified himself as his son and begged for any information about his father’s whereabouts. Unfortunately we couldn’t help him, we answered. Over the phone, he disclosed that his family was worried sick and that he was coming for him.


We met the young man on arrival. We couldn’t help him a lot, but we asked to keep us informed. Two weeks later he reappeared almost in tears. He explained to us that he had to send for his brothers and sisters to help him removing their father from the place where he was finally discovered.


The elegant, soft-spoken business traveler was living in a hut, feeding and sleeping on a straw mat he shared with a very young “African wife”. The major shock for his grown-up son was the rope he was wearing instead of a belt. It crossed our mind that he could be mentally affected, but it seemed not to be the case. Later, we were informed that he had been robbed and consequently helped by the young woman where he insisted in staying.


Let me tell you that he is now back in Europe, but “conversations” to remove him from Mozambique were long, delicate and suffered from both sides of the table.


I know people very judgmental about men who suddenly decide to create a new life for themselves. I can’t deny that the critics might be right. However, I can understand the right of building a second life for one self. A second life is a fantastic theme, a theme to sail the unknown. Am I going to live a second life too? How many lives have I lived thus far? Or is this the same life and I couldn’t realize it before?