My trip to Maputo wasn’t all hassles. It ended up being a very enjoyable holiday, starting with a helicopter ride.
I had originally bought a bus ticket to go to Maputo but on that Wednesday heard that some helicopter pilot friends were on their way back to Nelspruit, South Africa after doing flood relief work north of Beira. They were spending Wednesday night in Beira, flying out on Thursday morning and could drop me off in Maputo if I wanted. Hmm, an 18-hour bus ride leaving at 5am or a 4-hour helicopter ride leaving at 7:30am? It was not a bad way to see Mozambique outside of Beira for the first time, especially flying along the coast for the first part to stop and refuel at Vilanculos, a top beach destination because of its islands and crystal-clear turquoise waters.
I was worried about spending four days in Maputo by myself. Not that I’m not good about entertaining myself or can handle myself alone in a strange city but because I prefer company. I ended up meeting fantastic people, having places to stay, people to show me the sights, and take me to restaurants and beaches and entertainment spots. Life felt so luxurious there as I walked along beautiful boulevards, ate gelato in a park on a hill overlooking the sea, ate at Indian and Thai restaurants and pizza at a restaurant that reminded me very much of patio restaurants in Houston, drank tea and read my book on the veranda of the Hotel Polana looking out over their pool, garden, and the sea, and dipped my feet in a clean, clear pool at a BBQ with other development workers. Other highlights were shopping at a Target-like South African store and swimming in cleaner (but bigger!) waves than we have in Beira. I also now feel like I know more people in Maputo than here in Beira.
Of course there is a greater divide there between rich and poor, and expats and locals. As much as I loved the city, I would find a hard time balancing ministry to poor Mozambicans and socializing with expats. I was sad to leave Maputo for many reasons, but I also felt like I was coming home when I arrived back in Beira.