I arrived in Lichinga on what appears to be hat day. My colleagues were all protecting their heads from the cold with the kind of hats we wear in winter, like when it snows, used in a style I associate with leaders from Guinea Bissau (the best possible association is with Amilcar Cabral, as for the more recent guys, no comment.) I heard that last night the low was 6 degrees celcius. This is even cold for me, and I grew up with snow and ice.

All of the “extras” in my Lichinga film are almost two years older. There are more white hairs in mustaches and more wrinkles. The girls are more like women. I ask myself if I also aged visibly…?

I noticed quite a few new superficial things – posters advertising parties – something I had never seen. Two stores selling fashion and clothes. New street signs with the “City of Lichinga” on them. Like in many places of this size, I didn’t even know the streets had names. And just after I tripped over a root sticking out of the sidewalk and was complaining thinking the conditions of the city have not improved, I passed a team redoing the sidewalk outside of the hospital.

The old governor was replaced years ago, and the new guy seems more discrete. He even prohibited government workers from frequenting the outdoor bars around town. But according those in the know, it is still illegal to walk on the sidewalk outside his house, something I always thought completely absurd.

The city has spread to the north, almost to the intersection for the airport. In spite being technically illegal, land is clearly being bought and sold. It will be interesting to hear more about markets for periurban land outside of the old city limits.

The discovery of the coal reserves has already been mentioned I don’t know how many times, and I saw in the provincial TV news (now with proper TV reports and everything, instead of a person clinging to a sheet of paper reading in monotone) that mining concessions are the object of workshops and trainings in the province.

Tomorrow I have three days in a row of visits to rural communities to get more information about land. And the call to prayer has started, and with that I am off to Padaria Mária, the most bustling place in town at this time of the evening.