Entry in my travel journal: "First of all I look for the market. One look at the Maputo Market, also called the Bazar da Baixa, makes one realize that this market is about the soul of its people, one senses its feelings, its dreams and even its love. Light pours through the holes in the old awnings. Everything is shiny ebony skin and ivory smile. The fish vendors sink their gold bracelets into the buckets full of crabs that live in mud, shrimps that fit neatly into old Schweppes cans. I taste with the eyes, I smell and touch. I find a hole and a barricade and go through. Blue bowls filled with shrimps, pink fish still dripping with seawater, buckets full of snails and live lobsters greet me. Golden bread, cashew nuts, mangoes, bananas, oranges, red and yellow peppers, coconuts and beautiful black lips offering whatever is on offer. 'Senhora ... Senhora ...', with my poor Portuguese I speak to you all. Women sleeping on their goods, children growing up between the fruit and vegetables, men playing cards in the hallways. Reddened eyes, calloused hands. Young eyes full of sparks and eyes from which have escaped the brightness of hope. Four hours in the Maputo market."
This local market is very popular. It sells a diverse range of items and is huge. It is a fascinating place to learn the idiosyncrasies of the people of Maputo but is not a place for foreign tourists, so you have to try to pass as unnoticed as possible and take some precautions for your safety (I left my dongle and camera at home and was accompanied by my Mozambican friend). You can buy absolutely everything here, from food to auto parts, from construction materials to wigs, from live chickens to alcoholic beverages, jewelry, furniture and appliances. Many of the items sold are stolen, hence the dark alleys, narrow corridors and somewhat sordid characters. But it's a great experience (though pretty exhausting!), especially seeing the crowd on Saturdays, full of frenetic activity.
The Santa Maria market reflects the very poor living conditions for Machangulo Natives. Situated outdoors in the center of the village, their stalls are rustic tables or directly on the sand. The vendors are always women, here are the only ones that work and take some money home. The women offer what little their meager gardens can produce, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, oranges, bananas, 'a typical homemade sauces neatly packaged in jam jars and bottles of water, and a distilled beverage of fruit called marula tree with a high alcohol content.
Call Filamon’s Place a "store" is sinning exaggerated, however, for the people of Santa Maria this is the only place to buy products from Maputo. Filamon’s is tiny dark wood building opposite the dock and is the village meeting place. It's run by the widow of Filamon, who can not read or add, though she manages a calculator phenomenally. When I had the privilege of going to the grocery store, the villagers could be seen through a barred window. It is notable that even though they have nothing to buy many remain for a long time, perhaps because in Santa Maria there is little to do and to look at the 'delights' of Filamon’s Place is a real temptation. Does it have a good product range? For now, just the basics. The place of honor is occupied by the filled bottles and bottles of alcohol.