Towards the middle of February one of my regular clients, Mirror Edge Networks asked me if I’d like to join him on a day trip to Maputo International Airport. Morgan had installed some LED screens in the airport and this was a service call to fix some faulty panels on the one display. The whole trip was perfectly planned because I was going to already be in Johannesburg photographing a wedding.
On Sunday I met Morgan at OR Tambo International Airport where Kevin, Morgan’s colleague met us and drove us to Witbank where we would spend the night before leaving early the following morning to head to the border, by car.
Kevin came to pick us up at 6:30 on Monday morning. We packed the van with all the necessary parts, toolboxes and camera equipment and headed for the border. We stopped briefly in Malelane for diesel and some cash, and by 10:30 we were at the border.
Before we had even gotten to border crossing properly, street vendors were stopping by the open window of the van trying to sell us fire extinguishers, reflective jackets, triangles, local sim cards, and ZA stickers, all necessary to drive in Mozambique. You had to barter hard to get the price down, but no sooner had one street vendor moved off, then 3 more would arrive, each one’s price slightly different!
After getting the necessary paperwork signed and stamps in our passports we began the drive to Maputo Airport. Along the way we saw all sorts of things for sale, from fresh animals, still with skin and everything else attached, to lounge suites, beds, clothes and fruit! The roads in Mozambique were in fair condition, with a few toll gates along the way, but any side street was just gravel. We found this out on our first stop along the way to get supplies.
The GPS was having a hard time pronouncing the Portuguese street names, but we managed to follow it’s directions towards the airport. The traffic wasn’t too bad, but was slow going. The street we ended up taking to the airport was full of street vendors recycling and reselling wooden pallets and other types of wooden boards and crates. A hive of activity.
Once we got to the airport we met with the client at the airport and we were shown what was wrong. A couple of hours of problem solving and replacing the necessary parts, the displays were working great.
We had just enough time to grab a bite to eat afterwards, and we headed downtown in Maputo to a street cafe called Piri-Piri, which was Morgan’s suggestion. We picked our table outside and order a round Laurentina’s and some prawn starters. We couldn’t go all the way to Mozambique without at least one Laurentina! We ordered Prego rolls for lunch from our waiter who was very polite and spoke to us in a mixture of broken English, Portuguese and hand gestures. The food was simple, but delicious.
While sitting enjoying our beers and prego rolls, street vendors stopped and tried to sell us things, from phone chargers, to cellphones, maps, watches and cashews (one of Mozambique’s major cash crops).
By 17:00 we decided it was time to head back to Johannesburg sadly we didn’t have anymore time to explore. Unfortunately we got stuck in work traffic on the way back so it took us a little while longer to get out of Maputo and on the road to the border. When we got to the border crossing it wasn’t too busy so we were able to get our stamps and papers signed sorted, and we were back in South Africa heading for Sandton where we would spend the night before heading home to Cape Town the following morning.