Posted by Marcos Carzolio -- Thu, 05/30/2013 - 5:09 pm
I arrived in Maputo on Wednesday, May 22. By the time we were preparing to leave on Saturday, May 25, I had already grown an affinity toward the coastal city. Here are the highlights of my stay. For some context, Jenna, one of the principal investigators on the Mozambican Rural Water Project, arrived the day after I did.
On Friday, Eric, Ralph, Emily, Jenna, and I met with representatives from the Millennium Challenge Account-Maputo, as well as a statistician from INE, o Instituto Nacional de Estatistica. We discussed all of the Mozambican officials’ lingering questions regarding our project, specifically: how would we be surveying the households in our study, in what ways could they validly use our data in comparison with their national statistics, and what kind of support do we need in preparation for the fieldwork?
After the meeting, we sat down at a nice outdoor café, where street vendors would approach us with a variety of wanted and unwanted goods. I expertly negotiated the price of a pirated copy of Fast & Furious 6 down from the original 100 Mt. ($3.30) to 100 Mt. ($3.30). I hear the series has only improved since the masterpiece, Tokyo Drift.
Ralph and I and either Emily or Eric went for a jog on two separate occasions, both times along a side road that runs parallel to Rua Mao Tsetung and through the oceanfront caminho dos namorados (lovers’ walk). This path winds past several embassies, boasting some of Maputo’s prime real estate, and under a tree canopy with a majestic panoramic view of the sea.
One night, we had dinner at a Thai restaurant and met up with Vale, one of Jenna’s PhD students who is living in Maputo with her husband. After dinner, Vale took us to an ultra-trendy bar where artists go to paint – but you’ve probably never heard of it. There, we discussed our academic and professional goals over chilled Laurentina Premium, an award-winning Mozambican beer. Eventually, back at the hotel, our conversation degenerated into diarrhea horror stories. Not surprisingly, Eric’s won the “most interesting” accolade. Have him recount it for you some day.
We left Saturday afternoon, but not before running into a minor hiccup. At the airport check-in counter, I learned that my 16kg carryon bag and 9kg backpack, combining for a total of 25kg, just barely surpassed the 8kg-per-passenger limit.
Enter Kory, another of Jenna’s graduate students who met us at the airport, and his girlfriend Maria; exit Ralph, Emily, and Jenna; Marcos and Eric front and center, each with approximately triple the carryon maximum.
Check-in Attendant (in Portuguese to Marcos and Eric): You can’t board that plane with those bags. Why don’t you place 8kg from your 16kg bag into his 10kg bag and dispatch it for 3,000 Mt. ($99)?
Marcos (in English to Kory and Eric): She’s telling us we can’t carry this luggage onto the plane. Kory, you and Maria wait for us behind that pillar.
Exit Kory and Maria.
Eric (in English to Marcos): How much are they charging to dispatch the bag?
Marcos (in English to Eric): One hundred dollars. (in Portuguese to Check-in Attendant) Isn’t there a way we can get our stuff through, just this once?
Check-in Attendant (in Portuguese to Marcos): No, I’m afraid these are the rules.
Eric (in English to Marcos): We’re not paying one hundred dollars for this.
Check-in Attendant (in Portuguese to Marcos): Please place your bag back on the scale. Let’s see, 25kg minus 9kg plus…
Eric (in English to Marcos): Grab your bag. Let’s make a run for it.
Marcos (in Portuguese to Eric): Hang on a minute.
Eric (in English to Marcos): What?
Marcos (in English to Eric): Hang on a minute. (in Portuguese to Check-in Attendant) We’re going to let the people in line behind us through, and we’ll sort this out behind that pillar over there.
Scene fades into perspective of Check-in Attendant two minutes later. Annoying American customers, Marcos and Eric, have reappeared after running out of sight with overweight bags behind a pillar. Marcos approaches the counter with bulging pockets and two bags. Eric waits beside pillar in background, also with bulging pockets and with only one of two bags in sight.
Both of Marcos’s bags mysteriously weigh just under the limit. This is only possible if Eric moved 5kg from his heavy bag to Marcos’s light bag, Marcos moved 4kg from his light bag back into Eric’s heavy bag, Eric placed his heavy bag inside Marcos’s light bag, 6kg moved from this bag to the other, 3 from the first to the third… It all checks out.
Later, passing through airport security, the guard stared unconcerned as we emptied our pockets of dozens of protein bars, packets of baby wipes, canisters of insect repellant, and bottles of hand sanitizer. Thankfully, the following two-hour flight to Nampula went far more smoothly than our experience at the LAM check-out counter.
The first picture is Ralph, Eric, and Marcos (left to right) outside of the MCA-Maputo office.
The second picture is Marcos at the airport with some smuggled goods.