Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thalassa! The sea!

Rocks near Nampula

We had a weary time of it: more than a thousand kilometers through the uplands of Mozambique, to a dusty, dreary hotel on the outskirts of Nampula, and then down through magnificent rock outcropping and land with magnificent agricultural potential, until we began to see the palm trees and the dunes. Soon we saw the salt marshes, and then the long causeway out to Ilha Mozambique.

Dhows still trade and fish in these waters
This is where the Arab traders had an outpost, only to be pushed off by the Portuguese. Here we saw the oldest Christian Church in the southern hemisphere! You can just wonder at the perseverance of the early mariners who, after a sea journey of months, with bad food and little water, stopped here, built up the fort by hand, traded and bargained, defended the position against English and Dutch, and then sailed on to India. We had it easy!

The island is a World Heritage site, and well it should be. Some magnificent old buildings had been restored, one could imagine the cost, and many are in the process of restoration. Now if the nice Nigerian gentleman transfers my Microsoft lottery money, I might just consider buying a little palazzo here, and doing it up as it must have been in the time of the Portuguese.

And then we are off to Nacala, where a major deep-water port is going up around the oil money, the development corridor going up to Mozambique, but where the leaf fish is still said to frolic in the coastal waters.

This might be a little over the top ...

This church was built in 1522!

What about a fixer-upper like this?

This has potential!

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