After leaving Namaacha and meeting up with Anna in Maputo, we headed together to her site, Hokwe. To get to Hokwe (and then Chokwe and Guijá, the other towns we went to after) you go up to Macia on the national highway and then turn in and travel a hundred kilometers inland—something I don’t do very often. A lot of Mozambique is situated along the national highway, including my town of Inharrime, whose main road is the highway. Few roads that lead inland are paved, so traveling inland is long, tedious, uncomfortable, and not something you do without a good reason. So today I ventured farther from the Indian Ocean than I ever have within Mozambique!
We went first to Anna’s hometown Hokwe, a tiny little town in the district of Chokwe. (Usually when I tell people my colleague is from Hokwe, they, never having heard of it, assume I’m an ignorant foreigner and correct me: Chokwe.) Anna had been in Maputo for medical reasons, so she needed to drop off some things at home and get her running stuff. Her town is the opposite of mine: no paved roads (granted, my town has only one, the highway), tiny, quiet, a short row of shops. In her town there is only one store that sometimes sells phone credit, as opposed to Inharrime where you can’t walk two steps without tripping over a guy selling. Every single person in town knows who she is though, and it made me wish a little that my past two years had been spent in a smaller town. I have been in Inharrime for two years and chapa drivers still assume I’m a tourist going to Maputo and vendors still try to rip me off. On the other hand, I can buy almost everything I need in Inharrime, whereas Anna must stock up each time she leaves. From Hokwe we left for Chokwe and then Guijá. I was struck by how different the landscape there looks, as compared with where I live. Inharrime has rolling hills and trees everywhere: mango trees, tangerine trees, cashew trees, orange trees, etc. Chokwe district is flat and mostly grasses and shrub brush. There are many rice fields there and during the drive a crane rose out of one and flew next to the chapa for about 30 seconds.
We arrived in Chokwe, which was a huge shock for me. Chokwe is a real town! It has a main street, paved sidewalks, streetlights, even a park with swings and a merry-go-round. But within minutes of being there we were reminded why the smaller cities are preferred by PCVs. A crazy man picked up a brick-sized rock and made as if to throw it at us. He just giggled as he put down the rock and watched us cross the street and speed away.
We crossed the bridge into Guijá, Chokwe’s small neighboring town. Guijá is a district capital and not as small and remote as Hokwe, but it is small enough for everyone to know the three PCVs who live there and as the two ladies in the market chattered excitedly about them I felt a small pang of envy again. We went to Jenna and Elisabeta’s house, where we met up with them, Joe, James, and Ally. Some good catching up and a large pasta meal to prepare for the marathon tomorrow!