Walking far from home

 

There is no ordinary walk.

There are many types of walkers: Power walkers, slow walkers, environmental walkers and sleepwalkers… As many Norwegians, I guess I can define myself as a part-time-therapy-walker. I walk into the woods, under pouring rain, against the howling wind, and towards the highest peak. The fresh air clears my head and the beautiful view cures my heart. The time spent alone in the Norwegian forests can solve surprisingly many problems…

Then, in order to solve the minor complications caused by a 20-hour flight combined with an I-just-left-home-for-nine-months-mentality, I went for a therapy walk in Maputo…

With my black hoodie and Sigur Rós on my headphones, I started walking down the enormous avenues of Maputo. I found myself in the city where you need both courage and perfect calculation just to cross the street. The booming Mozambican capital where afro jazz- and reggae-beats follow you everywhere. Last but not least, the city where everyone and everything greets you.

The ideal city for open, adventurous, and relaxed creatures. A challenge for a sleepy, overheated and confused newcomer. My mind was set on finding a place where the sound of car alarms or dogs could not reach me. My eyes were searching for a pine tree. Moreover, my hair longed for a cold breeze. I walked on and on as my speed augmented together with my frustration. What I was searching for couldn’t be found.

Where is my pine tree?

Where is my pine tree?

Now as I have a robust four-week experience as a Mozambican menina, I look back at this desperate therapy walk with both humility and joy.
Of course, silly girl – you cannot find a calm corner in the capital of Mozambique! However, what haunts me the most: how can you even search for your Norwegian forest in this extraordinary jungle of Maputo.
Still I guess it is natural. Wherever we go, we bring our habits and dearest ways. Isn’t the mentality of feeling home worth searching for? So I believe. Yet it is quite fascinating, and even disappointing, how these specific ideas or desires can shut out so many new impressions…
While I was wandering around in my own old world, I didn’t pay attention to the new. The efflorescent mango tree, the colorful clothes and the numerous smiles. Frightened by the left side driving, the dynamic voices, and the intense looks – I found it suitable to stay inside my Norwegian shell.
Fortunately, it didn’t last for long.
No doubt, I would discover and appreciate Maputo’s sights and pulse during my stay. Still I want to thank the old man who opened the door for me that very day. With a serious look on his face, he stopped in front of me and said SMILE! He showed me the biggest toothless smile I have ever seen and walked away with decisive steps. Yes, I just earned a big cliché score – but this strange meeting is exactly what an uncomfortable newcomer needed. A direct message. Alternatively, as I interpreted it: a direct kick in the ass combined with a warm welcome.

We don't really need a Norwegian forest

We don’t really need a Norwegian forest

After a month in Maputo I guess I can define myself as a retired-therapy-walker. I don’t need to escape. Now I just walk. I never know what I will find, whom I will talk to or what kind of strange fruit I will end up bringing home. The joy of talking to strangers, listening to the beat from the crowded Toyotas, responding to the kids shouting “Tia”– it is the perfect kind of therapy!

Paula Aarseth Tunstad
Paula Aarseth Tunstad

This eighteen-year-old girl has been playing piano since the age of five, and has a long record of melting people’s heart with her passionate play. Growing up in a musical home on Tjøme, Paula has been wandering through different instruments and genres. Yet, she is looking forward to set her classical repertoire aside, and dive into the jazz-capital Maputo. With experience from various youth organizations, and with a passion for writing and photography, Paula is ready to help out on Music Crossroads Mozambique.

1 Comment
  • Picturesque description of torrid scenery, and a very vivid rendition of this somewhat alien culture. As I would describe your prime feature as being audacious, you will beyond a doubt take to this alluring new panorama of your choosing in no time. I am most certain your longing for the pine tree will be sufficiently quenched upon returning to the northern hemisphere, but until then, I hope you enjoy your rambunctious life in Mozambique.

    Regards,
    your fellow norwegian wordsmith.

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