Something Smells Fishy in Maputo…
The stench of fish hung in the air as we approached the Costa del Sol restaurant in Maputo, Mocambique. We were told to take a pink taxi up the coast and the driver would “know where to drop us” for a guaranteed-unique dining experience.
As soon as we stepped on to the sand at the famous fish market north of the capital, we were bombarded with promises of the best, most fresh fish. The pungent smell mixed with the sounds of shouting and chopping and I was a bit overwhelmed.
“Come to me, I’ll give you the best price,” one man shouted and aggressively showed us to his fish stand. He pointed out his best cuts and urged us to buy our dinner from him. Prawns, crabs and lobsters crawled on tables as vendors picked them up to show you what you would be eating in a matter of minutes.
After fish-shopping around, we selected a red snapper and the vendor wrapped it up and handed over our meal-to-be in a black, plastic bag. All of a sudden, the heckling began again. This time, waiters and restaurant owners were trying to attract customers to come have their fish cooked.
“I’ll make it light and tasty, only the best herbs,” said one man who sealed the deal after he promised to throw in some chips and a few yellow-label Laurentina beers. He led us to his restaurant where he brought drinks and chips to tide us over.
After a little white, plates began arriving. Barracuda and tuna, shrimp and snapper – our plastic table turned into a feast for the giants. A few hours later, stuffed and happy, I leaned back in my green plastic chair and let out a satisfied sigh. Oh what a night!
If you’re looking to get a new stamp on your passport during a stay in South Africa, grab a visa to Mocambique and head to Maputo, where people spend money in the hundreds of thousands – 100,000 Metical = about $4 – and walk to the beat (and pace) of their own drum. Craft markets selling beautiful weaving work and wonderful paintings, beaches galore and the friendliest people east of Joburg make Maputo a great vacation spot.