Thursday, 19 November 2009


Namaacha was once a resort town for Portuguese colonists. In 1975, when Mocambique gained its independence, those colonists had 24 hours to evacuate. As such, there’s an old school along the main road…
And, across the street, a temporary construction fence around a half-way completed office building (estimated completion date: June 1976). My town has two paved roads. The street my house is on disappears altogether when it rains.
As for housing, the Portuguese abandoned large houses with indoor plumbing (including showers and bidets), swimming pools and extravagant gardens. As such, there are well-maintained houses such as my neighbor’s…
…next to more practical housing…
The majority of former-Portuguese-owned houses have not seen fresh paint or any kind of upkeep in the past three decades. My house is more recent, and so is somewhere in between:
My house includes two bedrooms – one for me, and one for the rest of the family. There’s also pantry/living/dining room, and an outdoor semi-covered room for the fire. No microwave; no refrigerator; no stove; no kitchen sink, because there is no running water, plumbing or, for that matter, real kitchen. Oh, and let’s not forget the casa de banho – behind the curtain on the left. It’s essentially non-portable Port-A-Pot that empties into a large pit in the backyard. Toilet paper is thrown out the “window” (hole in the wall) behind the “toilet” (also known as a “chimney”). But hey, I have electricity! Most of the time. We also keep candles close at hand.
Each morning I shower in a bucket of well water heated over charcoal. Well, most mornings. Bathing doesn’t seem to be a huge deal to my family, and I think at times Mama Celeste is annoyed by my need to bathe daily. A few times I’ve bathed in what was left in the teapot after breakfast. I’ve had more than one cold shower in the morning because Mama Celeste didn’t see a need to make a fire that day. The first time, I just managed to stop myself from shrieking at the first icy cupful by biting my lip. I´ll tackle that in another post.

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