Something ends, something begins or a new start and my first impressions

Nov 22, 2016

I am back from my journeys. Back from the Baltic States, Russia, Georgia and life on the go. But not to the previous state. Yesterday marks the beginning of a very exciting project for me. I have moved to Africa. To the small town of Manhiça just next to the capital of Mozambique. I will be living and working here for the next 5 months. A strange place for an IT person to go for work you say? Sure it is. But how exciting! I will be working in a Health Research Center (CISM - Centro de Investigação em Saúde de Manhiça) designing the architecture of a new API layer on top of the current database systems. Personally I see it as an amazing opportunity not only to gain new skills and learn how designing and creating APIs work on the provider's side, but also as a possibility to have some positive impact on the efficiency of work done by the scientists working here. If you are interested also in knowing a little bit more about how my work is going here on a more technical level, let me know in the comments and I will try to share some of the more interesting details :)

The travel

Surprisingly Mozambique has a pretty good flight connection with Europe. I went from Barcelona with one layover in Lisbon from where I had a direct connection to Maputo - Mozambique's capital city. There are also flights through Quatar, South Africa or Turkey and you can get a regular economy ticket for around 600 Euros which is a pretty reasonable deal. All in whole my trip door-to-door took slightly under 24h. Long, but mostly due to the layover in Lisbon. After arriving at Maputo airport I was picked up by a CISM driver and taken by a Land Cruiser directly to Manhiça which I reached in about 1-1.5h on a surprisingly great road.

First impressions on Manhiça

Without further ado - it's not exactly what I expected. And in a positive way. Before coming here Joe - a person who basically convinced me to come here - said "it's extremely poor, nothing like you have seen before". You can imagine what kind of idea I had ;) It surely is poor, but people live in fairly reasonable houses, electricity is working roughly all the time, half of the streets are paved and the access to basic human needs seems pretty decent. Sure, if you go further into the "interior" of the country (Countryside, maybe?) everything will be simpler and arguably poorer. However so far my impressions are quite positive. Economic situation is one thing, but what really stands out here is how friendly and open local people are. Always smiling and greeting you from afar. Heartwarming. If I would have to compare this place to any other place I visited, I would say it resembles Brazilian North-East. Both culturally and ethnically. Here are some photos of Manhiça itself (forgive my mobile phone quality):

As for the nature and views. It's spectacular. Just take a look at a couple of photos taken 100m from my house:

And mango trees everywhere!

That would be it for today. I will be posting updates much more frequently now. If you are interested a little bit more in the life in Manhiça from a little bit different point of view you have to check out Coloma's blog. She is Joe's wife and came here together not only with him, but also with their 17months old daughter Ramona.