One thing you learn quickly is that the seven hour time difference from home is not the only indication you are on African time.
For example, say you are going to meet people at 5:00pm to go out for dinner. Most likely, the process might look somewhat like this:
* Most people arrive at the meeting point by 5:15 or so.
* Someone decides to invite someone else and/or someone still hasn’t shown up, so one or more people leave to go find said persons and come back 15 minutes later.
* If you’re lucky enough to have a phone and can speak Portuguese well enough to previously acquire a taxi driver’s phone number, you call the taxi and it takes 20 minutes for them to get to you. Depending on your fluency and accent, it may take multiple calls to get the taxi driver to figure out where you are. Alternately you can wait on the side of the road for up to 30 minutes, and the random taxi driver you flag may want to charge you 3 times higher because you’re white (also known as the ancunya price), so you may let them go and wait for another one… If you have the transportation anointing, many times an Iris staff vehicle will come out of the gate and give you a free ride to your destination.
* But assuming you take a taxi, maybe the taxi driver will let you fit 5-6 people in, maybe not, depending on which way the wind is blowing. If your group gets separated by multiple taxis, that adds another 20-30 minutes to the wait time.
* When you finally arrive at the restaurant and they take your drink order, it’s nearly impossible to also give your food order. 15 minutes later they come back with your drinks.
* Once you get to order food, then you get to sit and wait 45 minutes. If you ask for bread, which at most places is free, chances are you’ll starve before it arrives. :) As you can see already, it’s best to plan to arrive at the restaurant when noone is hungry.
* Finally, you get your food — all of it if you’re lucky. Occasionally a plate or two will be missing and you have to continually ask for it over and over until it arrives after everyone else has eaten and is ready to leave.
* If you get the wrong order, sorry. You’ll have to eat it or pay for that plus whatever you really ordered (see last point). If you send something back, you’ll most likely still pay for it and bless someone with a free meal in the process.
* You can nearly forget getting extra ketchup, salt, etc. Even if they bring you an empty bottle of ketchup, they will smile and nod when you ask for more over and over. You usually have to options in this instance: beg the table next to you or be rude.
* They will never bring you the bill unless you ask for it. I am convinced the tactic here is to let you sit and talk until you get hungry for dessert or coffee, which most likely will be mentioned at least twice after your meal.
* It is completely normal to expect the ATM machines along the way and the restaurant’s credit card machines to be down. It is best to go with enough money as a group to pay for everyone’s meal and plan on being paid back.
* You can almost certainly forget about paying separately for your food. This is a foreign concept in Mozambique. Getting proper change is also a foreign concept. They will lie and tell you that they don’t have change and sometimes act extremely rude when you expect it. You will never ever receive change for any purchase unless you absolutely insist. Even if you are paying 100 mets for a 10 met coke they will look shocked when you ask for change! It is perfectly normal for a street vendor to tell you they don’t have change, so when you either buy two or resign to paying extra for something you want, they pull out a huge wad of bills and change from their pocket to add your “donation”.
“Troca” (change) is one of the first words you learn in Portuguese upon arrival here unless you need inner healing about letting everyone take advantage of you. :-)
“Troca?” means: Do you have change? Because if not, I need to decide how bad I really want to buy this, or if I want to spend extra money on stuff I didn’t plan on buying today.
“Troca.” means: I would kindly like my change back please.
“Troca!” means: I am about to change my mind about buying this and ask for my money back because you are obviously trying to rip me off. This only usually works on children.
* It would also not be a dining experience near the Pemba beach without at least three candy & chocolate selling children following you around insisting on dessert. In my opinion, the Cadbury crunch bars are the best. They are like a Nestle’s Crunch bar on steroids! :-)
And that’s that for dining in Pemba. If you’re lucky, you actually get to the restaurant by 6:15pm for your 5:00pm meal and might be home by 8:30pm or 9:00pm..