Went for a run this morning. In Maputo, that is no easy thing. Pavements and roads have the habit of collapsing into each other, and collapsing into deep, black holes. Tree roots buckle walkways and concrete slabs with ease and the trees' energetic branches provide plenty of opportunities to duck. Early morning traffic is not too bad, but the air is already close and hot despite the rapidly approaching winter.
There are hills. Enormous winding, tree-covered, exhausting hills. My morning route took me past the pleasant leafy park where lovers congregate at night, then down the hill where the previous night I had ended up stumbling around under an overpass in the gloom. Now the morning mists are burning off and early morning ships can be seen, huge foreign vessels full of right-angles and steel, as they carefully pick their way into the treacherous harbour.
Down on the waterfront, the promenade is looking a little neglected. At some point, some authority installed benches – what ever they were made of has now been wrenched away. Palms litter the walkway with discarded fronds and husks and litter congregates at the feet of the fisherman who are spaced out along the curved sea wall. The water is not deep it seems, someone tells me you can wade out, waist-high for miles, if you know where to walk.
Eventually I make it to a marina and an area of land that is being developed, perhaps deserves to be developed. It is at the foot of a cliff, with a beautiful view of the sea and the gentle stretch of the city. Several abandoned attempts to build something here are evident, but the yellow construction vehicles suggest new growth. Condominiums? Affordable housing? Shopping mall? Gardens? Seaside entertainment? It is impossible to tell.
My run takes me (I am no longer in charge) up a long, dry hill. Breathing is no longer an unconscious thing, I stumble alongside the road, the pavement disappears, traffic is tearing past me, but eventually I make it. The cities main boulevards are cooler and the traffic moves slower. Six kilometers feels like a half-marathon. Down on the waterfront, time stands still.