The bus from Tofo left at 4am. It was still dark. We picked people up along the way at bus stops sprinkled throughout tiny villages and the forest. We pulled up into one village at 4:30 and music was blaring from the bar – the nicest building in the village. A couple men drank beers inside and played pool. Outside, several people were clustered by the bus stop. You couldn’t tell if people had just woken up or if they had stayed up all night.
As the sun came up, we passed two women washing clothing in a river shrouded by feathery grass. The sand under their feet was olive green. Children played on the side of the road near a farm.
The women here always seem to be working so hard. They carry their babies swaddled on their backs (so, the lion’s share of childrearing) while they go to market, climb aboard kombis, pump water at rural villages and lug the buckets back to their homes. I’ve seen some women hacking at the moist, black earth with hoes, stooped over with gurgling infants bundled on their backs as they farmed.
In the villages, there were tuckshops painted red with “Vodacom” printed in large white letters on the fronts. In one village, a boy ran down a cramped road between the shanty houses, toting his bicycle, which had a large empty water bottle in place where the seat should have been. As we neared Maputo, unofficial markets sprung up in empty lots along the main road. Unlike the markets in the rural parts of Mozambique, these ones offered a wider selection of worldly goods: hardware, kitchen appliances, chairs, sofas, hair products, shoes, bags, backpacks, wine. However, the women with their tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and cassava roots neatly stacked on cloths were still to be found.