I nipped into town today for just a few bits, but in Beira terms, this is still a 2-hour venture! I have driven around this city endless times without a second thought. Getting frustrated when I can’t find something simple like corn flour- today’s annoyance! Or swearing and shouting at the traffic, the potholes, the people walking out in front of cars, the fact that the shops close at 12 for two hours and the current road works littered around the city (I should not complain about these as it’s desperately needed!). But I have rarely slowed down to “stop and smell the roses” (although you don’t want to sniff too hard Beira does tend to pong a bit!).
So today I did just that and I saw…..
The incredible strength of women carrying their shopping on their heads, not wavering for a moment displaying such determination, as they clamber out of the beaten minivan taxis. These taxis, known as Chapas, along with Chopelas, what you may recognize as the Tuk Tuks, are the primary forms of transport in and around the city. They are not the safest mode of transport due to the lack of maintenance and severe overloading of both people and animal cargo!
The hustle and bustle of people heading to work or meetings and in true Mozambican style, there is no rush they meander on by taking the time to soak up the morning sun! Unfortunately, this laid back demeanor leads to most meetings almost never starting on time which for a Brit can be very hard to get used to!
Countless street kids playing with the rubbish left in the gutter that they have made their toys. Their smiles always astonish me, even with what looks like hardly anything they always seem so happy with life.
The remarkable statue outside of the bustling port that I have not noticed until now! The rawness of the structure against the back drop of the rusted boats at the port’s entrance makes its simplicity a thing of beauty.
The vendors who are selling their goods, from fruit and vegetables to air time and second-hand clothes, to handmade intricately woven baskets and mats. Anything can be found on the side of the road if you know where to look!
A man dashing across the ‘ShopRite’ circle (roundabouts are called circles, and traffic lights are known as robots! ), with his ox cart hoping to beat the speeding traffic. Many a time I have found myself thinking I am in a drag race rather than merely waiting for the lights to change! It’s a real ‘ready steady go!!!’ moment when those lights go green!
The Municipal trying their best to remove the mountains of rubbish that accumulate on the streets of Beira, which add, combined with poor drainage and sewage systems, to the distinctive pong Beira has that intensifies over the humid hot summer. Hence why the title of this post “stopping to smell the roses” is a figure of speech!
As my drive comes to an end, I realize that all these encounters of everyday life compound further the love I have for this vibrant and ever changing city that we find our selves in.