It's impossible not to see them since the wonderful cotton fabrics are spread all over Baixa, in the neighbourhood of Maputo. The vendors of 'capulanas' (cuts of fabric worn as skirts by the Maputo women) carry their goods on their heads from one place to another, and are always surrounded by clients. Watching these women cluster around the fabrics is a fascinating experience. They don't normally speak Portuguese, but Ronga and Shangaan. The capulanas are incredibly beautiful and a spectacular quality of cotton. The designs are endless with vibrant colours. They are cheap, so you can't avoid the temptation and you end up buying a difficult amount to pack.
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.
With its streamlined silhouette and whiteness, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Fatima stands out against the blue sky. I know Cathedral is a Catholic church constructed in the year 1944 in the central Praça da Independencia, on the other side of the Cultural Centre Franco-Moçambicano. Inside there are stripped windows. The cathedral, facing Baixa and the sea, is impressive.
I was lucky enough to fly in a tiny plane over Maputo, so I saw the city from a different perspective, at a point much more real than the one captured when walking through its streets. As I mentioned, Maputo is a new city that is booming. In Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, there are some great companies investing in the country. The result is a city where slums, inhabited by people living without services, mixes with steadily growing sectors where towers and luxury developments are also seen. In this plot there are confusing streets with fences that separate the poor from the rich areas. From the air, it is difficult to say the future.
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.