A little health update. I tested negative for HIV, which is good news. As I’ve been teaching people here for 3+ years, you can never be 100% sure of a negative test (only a positive one), but there is little reason to worry and I will retest myself in a few months. They also tested my blood, since a side effect of the medication I was on is lowering hemoglobin levels. I’ve always been almost anemic, but we learned today that while normal hemoglobin levels are 12-18, mine is 7.6. Well at least that helps explain why I’ve been so exhausted! I’m taking iron supplements now and trying to adjust my diet accordingly.
This past weekend I finally made it back to Mozambique. I work the education outreach on Saturday mornings, and we had to be back Sunday evening, so it was a quick trip. But nice to be back. Saturday on the way into town we stopped at a capulana shop where I got to replenish my supply of those beautifully-patterned cloths I love so much. Then in the evening we hung out with friends and enjoyed unlimited fast internet. Sunday morning we visited Café Sol, a wonderful café that is struggling right now because of road construction. Then we went to the craft market where I did some serious damage. I have always gotten gifts for other people throughout the past three years, but I avoided that kind of shopping when possible, since I hated being labeled as a tourist. But lately I’ve realized that I need to stock up on my African paraphernalia before I leave for good in a month.
Last stop before heading back to Swaziland, we went to the infamous Maputo fish market. Think the stereotype of a third-world market area—chaotic, smelly, overwhelming, pickpockets, and people scheming ways to get your money. We parked the car and chatted with a super sketchy guy who resembled something between a pirate and a gangbanger who promised to keep watch over our car and offered to wash it. Then three people immediately tried to take us to their restaurants, but I told them we wanted to talk around a bit. Then we walked through the narrow aisles between wooden tables where piles of fresh fish dripped water onto your feet as you squeezed past. Extremely fresh crabs threatened to escape from their crates and equally fresh clams squirted water into the air from their tubs. Back through the market is the restaurant area, where each row of tables belongs to a different “restaurant,” so all these people are trying to get you to sit at their table. We settled on a woman we liked, so we walked back out to the market area with her. I bought some squid and she took the bag, Joe bought some fish. Then she walked us back to our table and she took our newly purchased seafood back to the kitchen where they cooked it. It was delicious! I hadn’t been to the fish market in over three years. I had avoided going back because I had found it so overwhelming, stressful, and “touristy” the first time, but I am glad I went back, because it was a fun experience. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that on this Sunday afternoon, most the people eating in the fish market were Mozambicans, so it made for a nice environment.