This is a blog about my travels. My "regular" life is much too boring to bother blogging about.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm here!

I had to e-mail my Mom to tell her that that my plane didn't crash into the south Atlantic, so I thought I'd post my first entry. I'm tired, but not as tired as I thought I'd be. I usually have trouble sleeping on planes, but this time I dozed on both of my intercontinental flights. My Toronto-Sao Paulo flight was especially good for snoozing since I had the whole row to myself and could stretch out a little bit. I was sitting next to a nervous Colombian on my flight to Johannesburg, so I was crammed in a little more tightly (made worse by the appalling lack of legroom on South African Airways) and didn't sleep as much. Still, it was a pleasant flight - air traffic control sent us close to Rio, and Rio looks pretty damn nice from 18,000 feet.

My Johannesburg-Maputo flight was 75% occupied by a Canadian church group. They are Baptists and they came to Mozambique to convert people. I know that because I heard two of them say that, in basically exactly those words.

I've been in Maputo for about 3 hours, two of which were spent lying on my hostel bed snoring happily. Still, that has been enough time to draw a few meaningful conclusions.

1. Gettimg around Maputo is roughly 600,000,000 times easier than navigating comparably sized Central American cities (Managua, San José) because the streets in Maputo actually have names. Rejoice!

2. An astonishingly high % of the streets here are named for various famous socialists/communists. I am staying on Avenido (is that even a Portuguese word?) Mao Tse Tung. There are also streets named for Marx, Lenin, Salvador Allende, Ho Choi Minh, Olof Palme and a bevy of African pinkos such as Ahmed Sekou Touré, Amilcar Cabral, Agostinho Neto and a bunch of others most people have never heard of.

3. You drive on the left in Mozambique. I'm kind of curious as to how that came about.

4. The drivers in Maputo are insane. I took a cab from the airport - only after the "free ride" promised to me by my hostel failed to show up - and I think I began fearing for my life about five seconds in. At one point there was a traffic jam. Rather than wait it out in, my driver drove went over the dividing line into the right lane and began driving into incoming traffic. Not that he was the only one: enough people did the same thing that pretty soon there was a southbound traffic jam in the right lane too. Periodically a car going north would weave its way through the traffic jam, horn blaring. Insane.

5. I can't speak Portuguese particularly well. I spent my layover in Sao Paulo reading signs, listening to announcements, conjugating verbs in my head and writing down vocabulary words in the hopes that I'd remember them once I touched down in Maputo. Then I said "gracias" instead of "obrigado" to my taxi driver after he dropped me off. Whooops.

6. I am not getting culture shock. I thought I would.


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