03 February 2007

Maputo From My Roof

Last week I discovered that I had access to my apartment building's roof. It is quite cool up there in the mornings and evenings and overall gets a good breeze. Of course, Google Earth does a great job of letting peer down at the landscape like supreme beings, but if you're reading this blog you probably can access Google Earth on your own. ;-)

This photo shows Avenida Lenine running southwest towards downtown and the waterfront around 0600. This shows the Ciudade de Cimento (or Cement City) that urban dwellers work and aspire to live (if they don't already).

This shot shows Avenida Lenine at 1730. My apartment building is only 6 stories high. The lens is aimed eastward towards Universidade Eduardo Mondlane which is a 15-20 minute walk from my front door. I live at the edge of the Coop bairro (pronounced coop as in chicken coop - jeez running afoul of chickens has left some karmic scars). Maputo has a lot of trees within its boundaries, many of them produce edible fruit like mangoes and mafurra (Trichilea emetica).

Not a great shot of the Ciudade de Cani├žo, but from up on the roof it is the best I can do. So, stay tuned for in-depth coverage of Maputo's cane suburbs. The area is called a cane city because most of the houses are hand built from recycled materials and cane. People are building cement block homes but it is a slow and expensive process.

Coop barrio at 0600. For anyone wondering why I use military time, its just easier for me. I got used to using it in the field doing ecological and anthropological research and it just stuck. Kind of like the metric system, or commie units as my brother Wil likes to call metric units.

Its fun watching people as they go about their morning business. A lot of people sleep, eat, and pretty much live outside even in the city limits. There is one family living near me with an outdoor bathtub in their backyard that gets used as a bathtub. I haven't seen any adults using it, but a bunch of little kids were enjoying the water on a hot afternoon. One of the older boys living next door at the mechanic shop sleeps outside on a mat. It is most likely cooler than being stuck inside a cement building with no fan. But before you ask, I do not spend my days peeping in on people. I do like to watch people on their way to work or coming home from school or just hanging out and chatting.
The bairro. You can sort of see the corner of a garbage pit located next door to my building. I think it originated as a basement for a building that was either knocked down or never built. At any rate, garbage migrates daily into the pit and gets burned a couple of times a week. I've been collecting pictures of garbage and recycling in Maputo to post. The smell of burning trash in Maputo is dominated by plastic with an undercurrent of rotting vegetation that leaves a vaguely nauseating afterfeeling. I have gotten used to it. It reminds me of upstate New York or Oregon on Saturday mornings, but without the distinct musty leaf smell.

Meu bairro in the other direction. I've never heard the bells toll. That's probably a good thing. Just beyond is Avenida Karl Marx - full of shops and shop keepers.

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