Houses


 

In a way, houses are like people. From time to time, they need to be cared for or they will begin to degrade.

Our house is going through one of such periods. If we do not give it a little attention and care, decay sets in and then it is very difficult to regain the good feeling we have when a house is in shape.

I made a “do it now” and “do it later” list with the help of my boyfriend. Lists have the merit of making us realize the distance between dream and reality.

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The Church


 

The Catholic church near my house is being repaired. It is the third time I witness the efforts to save a beautiful piece of architecture from the fifties.

The afternoon I discovered this, I felt a rush in my blood and took it as a sign of new things to come. In the days that followed, things got complicated. Then, I discovered that the rush was right. And at the same time that my life is changing, I wonder how many more times I will witness church makeovers.

Old Buildings

I love old buildings. I think they have more character than the new ones. The problem with old buildings, in Mozambique, is not their old age but the sad condition they show.

My son Ti took a few pictures of old buildings in Quelimane, capital of Zambézia. I thought it would be nice to post them here. That’s how they look today, a simple shadow of a past glory, waiting for a recue hand to catapult them into the future.

Where Time Stands Still

No one explains better the many faces of this town than Filipe Branquinho through his camera.

This exhibition, currently showing at Instituto Camões, reveals a face the majority ignores: a beautiful art deco town, decadent, yet still intact, due to the inertia of time: Cineteatro África, WC (2013), Cineteatro África, lavatórios (2013), Cineteatro África, exterior (2013), Palco (2013), Museu (2014), Rádio (2013), Biblioteca (2014) and Cineteatro Scala (2013).

The musical theme is from Ti, so here you have another good reason to show up…

Where I Am

The place where I am right now has very little of Africa. In fact, it’s the result of a meltdown, with the worst of both worlds. In spite of that, it’s one of the best towns in Africa, with all the worries, challenges and niceties of living packed like sardines.

Right now they are destroying a good number of nice family houses to build skyscrapers or whatever. I don’t mind tall buildings, as long as they are confined to a certain space. For the rest, two levels are more than enough. The current tendency here is building to make easy money. The construction fever is slowing down a little bit, with some observers already talking about crisis

The pictures were taken at night, from a 14th floor of a local building. I was there, but they are not mine. I don’t like to be that high. If I were forced to sleep in a place like that, I would have terrible nightmares.

What I enjoy the most around here are the long weekends, when most of the drivers and their families head for the beaches or other places. The town seems to empty and an unusual silence descends over the streets and neighborhoods. It’s when faraway drums pierce the heat of the afternoon or the dark of the night. During two or three days, it is as if by erasing part of one side the other automatically surfaced. Suddenly, I am reminded of where I truly am.

Blue and Green

The place where I live is changing fast. As my life has been changing a lot lately, it feels as if we were changing together. Changes are good to correct what is wrong. I’m trying to change for the better, so why not this town?

Long ago, I wrote about three things that could improve the local urban life. One was already under way (city parks), so I suggested another two. As one of them is being implemented right now (the water front), there’s only one left: Miradouro. The recuperation of Miradouro is about preservation and beauty. It doesn’t seem very expensive to transform Miradouro in a suitable place to be. It’s only a question of improving and maintaining what is already there. The lower part, where the homeless live and gather all sorts of trash, is tricky. Once cleaned, rebuilt and protected, the corridor-like space could be used for small commerce stalls and coffee-esplanades.

But this post is about two new other aspects. The first: it doesn’t look like the new roads are enough to ease the traffic. The only way to solve this question is by removing every possible service (schools, health centers and similar) to the outskirts of the city, where most people live. It doesn’t make sense to have large public schools in the heart of the city, where most of the residents attend private schools. The situation forces the children to walk kilometers and their families to pay for transportation.

The second aspect is park related. Parks are more than green and fun. They are like commas in a sentence, allowing different architectural approaches. If people ignore that aspect, then mistakes occur. There’s a park nearby. It should be used to create a space between tall buildings and villas. When someone lives in a detached house, he expects to look outside and see the blue sky and the green of the trees. The only way to do that is by using parks to separate different concepts. Because someone forgot it, I have to deal, on a daily basis, with one of the many architectural mistakes of this town. Instead of blue and green, I mainly see this absurd.