I was super confident about getting my visa on arrival when I got to Mozambique and I did, except it took forever. Not forever because I had to wait my turn. I don’t mind waiting my turn, but for some reason, some Africans, mainly immigration officials in certain countries have not gotten used to the fact that Africans like me exists and want to explore their own continent.
I was lucky an airport staff gave me his phone to use to call my host to recheck my reservations with the hostel. For a small fee of course.
I was passed from one immigration official to another. They asked me several questions – How long I was staying, where I was staying (they actually called my hostel to check) who was inviting me. I wonder if they ever ask non-Africans or Africans from the diaspora this question and do you always have to be invited before you can visit a country? I don’t think so. Europeans come to Africa all the time with no formal invitation. The questions continued – how much money do I have to spend. They finally decided to take my photo and process my visa, but this felt like I was a criminal taking a mug shot. I paid my visa fee and wasn’t given my change. When I asked for change, they just smiled as if to say, I have the nerve to ask for my change. Lesson learnt. Always make sure you have the exact amount with you, not a cent or a dollar more.
My “host” Filomena is a super smart multi-lingual young Mozambican lady I met a year prior when I volunteered to organise a career seminar for international students at Wuhan University, China.
The very university my brother was at. And as luck will have it, she was back home in Mozambique at the very time when I decided to travel to her country and others on the continent to share my skills for free.
Filomena ended up picking me at the airport with her very kind mother, booking my hostel, showing me around her city, getting me local cuisine,
making sure I experienced my first ever Tuktuk or Chopella ride in heavy Mozambican traffic,
went to the bank with me, translated Portuguese to English for me when my bank card won’t work or when the ATM was showing me I had money, but can’t make a withdrawal. She became my photographer and videographer. She introduced me too cool people, showed me the proper way to behave culturally,
bought me dinner, shared business ideas, had deep conversations, showed me the famous landmarks like the Maputo Cathedral where her parents got married and where she and her brother got christened,
patiently explained everyday life, showed me the not so famous landmarks.
Filomena is an all-around superhuman whom I learnt so much from. Filament also organised people to come for the career seminar that was pretty special and positively emotional. Oh, I got the added bonus of learning about different kinds of architecture and the stories behind some of them because Filomena is a student of architecture and an all-around creative.
Together with her beautiful and kind mother, they offered to drive me to the bus station when I was leaving Maputo to Swaziland. I could never thank them enough.
Thanks to Filomena, I got to meet the super cool Marguerite, a Harvard grad who is also a medical doctor with a big heart.
We were, in fact, sharing the same room. We “found” each other the day we were both packing to leave. She was leaving in the evening and I was leaving the next morning.
Marguerite took me to the craft market and of course, we did a little souvenir shopping.
The beauty of travel is, all the amazing people you get to meet and potentially bond with.
Maputo has its charm. I will leave you to enjoy the pictures.