Getting down in Maputo

2011-05-20 14:54

For some, Maputo is simply the capital city of our neighbour Mozambique and not much else.

I recently discovered that this place is actually ideal for anyone looking for a fun, sexy time. Maputo is our answer to “sin city”, albeit with dimmer lights and less glitz, but definitely just as much sin potential as Las Vegas.

If your holiday itinerary usually entails exploring the city, partying the whole night, resting for a few hours and repeating the process; then go ahead and write this trip on your vision board.

I travelled by bus with an entertaining group of basketball players from the US called AND1. This team, like the Harlem Globetrotters, was on a tour of South Africa and Mozambique to showcase their basketball skills and stunts.

The journey was long; the stops were few – especially for the team to stock up on some KFC, which seemed like the only thing they could eat. Going through border control was painless and didn’t take more than 40 minutes. Within six hours, we were in Maputo. The air was different and the weather was considerably warmer.

But the most glaring difference was that while hawkers on the Mzansi border sold only non-alcoholic drinks, the other side of the fence had people peddling all kinds of booze.

Being used to the “no-drinking-in-public” law meant that none of us dared buy anything. Plus, it’s a little uncomfortable to buy alcohol while looking at a South African police van, even if it’s not in the same country.

The red-light district
We arrived at the Hotel Cardoso after dark, and immediately checked in and prepared ourselves for a night out on the town.

Since nobody knew much about the area, we asked the taxi driver where to find a watering hole with a good crowd on a Wednesday night.

The cabbie took us to a very busy place called Rua de Bagamoyo in the Baixa, the city’s red-light district.

The small street has about five bars. We chose the decent-looking one on the corner, which turned out to be a strip joint – a happy coincidence for all concerned.

At the bar, a woman called Florence introduced herself and complimented my looks, first in Portuguese and then in English. It wasn’t until she started gently brushing my arm that I suspected that maybe I shouldn’t have greeted back.

I made a hasty retreat to my companions who, by then, were surrounded by women vying for their attention.

The main event came by way of the “headlining” stripper, who took to the stage. Without going into graphic details, I’ll say this: this woman can do things with a lit candle that should be considered illegal. Unfortunately, my table was in front and I got to see everything in 3D. I’m still traumatised.

After the show, we returned to the hotel to recover from my introduction to Maputo.

The city by day
Our hotel pool area overlooked the Baixa area and the Bay of Maputo, which truly is beautiful.

After breakfast, the basketball team went off to train for their game against the Mozambique national team while the rest of us went exploring.

Take this as a warning: if you don’t have the power to say “no thanks”, then you’re in big trouble.

The town has insistent peddlers who will sell you anything and everything.

The only thing most of us couldn’t resist was giving in to the novelty of buying ice-cold alcohol on the side of the road and imbibing in public.

Maputo revealed itself to be a very interesting city by day. While it might look a bit run down, there are many fascinating things to see – bistros serving delicious local cuisine and stores selling artefacts, accessories and clothing.

Maputo Fish Market
After working up an appetite, we visited the fish market, where a random guy met us at the entrance and volunteered to be our guide.

There the hawkers sell anything edible that lives in the sea – from clams, crayfish, crabs and lobster to calamari, oysters, mussels, prawns and any kind of fish. For some it might be off-putting, but don’t knock it until the food is ready. You’ll soon forget about what it looked like before the pot.

Our purchases were taken to a restaurant at the market where they were cooked to perfection. It all tasted delicious, to the point where none of us got annoyed when the peddlers kept coming to sell things every five minutes.

The five-course meal cost about R500 and was sufficient for five people. We took some leftovers back for the rest to taste.

Later, it was back to the hotel where we prepared ourselves for the basketball game.

If you didn’t know, Mozambique is crazy about basketball and the home team certainly gave the visitors a run for their money.

But the AND1 team still won and entertained the crowd in the process with their dunking stunts.

By the end of the game, we were ready to party and see more of the town.

Party around town
First on the list was the trendy, upmarket, lounge called Dolce Vita which, while luxurious and beautifully decorated, turned out to be expensive. We swiftly moved on to the local favourite, Africa Bar.

Outside, groups of people sold alcohol, proving that you don’t have to be indoors to have a good time in this town.

The DJs played mostly hip-hop and house to a mixed crowd of locals and foreigners.

The next club, Coconuts Disco, was where the game’s official afterparty took place.

Anyone who’s been to Maputo has been to this popular place. It’s situated between Mira Mar and Costa do Sol beaches, which makes it ideal when you need some sea breeze after a hectic dancing session. They play rap, house and some local sounds which require people to dance very close.

If you feel that you need to hang with Maputo’s rich and famous, right next door is the Ice Lounge bar, which caters for those who like wearing suits to a club and spending loads of money.

By the time we returned home, I felt like I had been the one playing basketball. But as a local explained to me, Maputo is not Mozambique and there’s a lot more to see.

I’m definitely going back and this time, I’m making it a girls-only trip.

» Seabi was in Maputo as a DStv guest.

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