Monthly Archives: December 2009

Big News in the Vilankulo Community

Helga received a 5 AM text from a fellow ex-pat announcing that “Lichis have arrived!” So by 8:30 Helga and I had made a quick dash to the grocery store to get ourselves a boxful of the tasty little fruit.

Like much of the food here, the lichis were imported from South Africa. But what a pleasure it was to indulge. 


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Show Me the Honey

Upon finding a bee hive in the storage basement, Andreas assembled a makeshift beekeepers outfit, and retrieved the whole hive, totally abuzz, with angry African bees.

It was almost 11pm, when he knocked on my door saying it was ready. In their yard were buckets and buckets of fresh, dripping combs. I squatted in the grass for 20 mintues, spoon in hand, warm sea breeze on my back, lingering bees a’ buzzing – sampling the warm honey and chewing on the wax.

I have long held the desire to be a bona fide bee charmer. I want to walk up to a hive, calm and unnerved, and stick my arm into a hole in a tree and retrieve a hunk of the comb. Of course, in this moment I wasn’t even apart of the procuring, I was only enjoying the fruits of Andreas’ hunt.

Maybe it was the sugar high or the lingering buzz from the bees, but I was so happy. And without much ado (at least on my part) this has become one of my fondest memories made in Mozambique so far.



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My African Nativity Scene

Are you smiling yet?! Because I sure am. 

Look at her focus. The nurse has definitely done this before. 


(This is the kind of stuff I spend my money on.)


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Time to Get Festive

Christmas Carols – Check

Decorative WreathCheck

Presents Kinda Check

SnowNo Check, but there is temporary snow effects on this blog. So actually, Kinda Check

Holiday Spirit HECK YEAH!!!!

Last week Courtney and Sarah have left for the states for about a month. They’ve gone home temporarily to visit their families and friends and will be back in January. I don’t really feel like I’ve been here long enough to want to go home, but candidly my heart was heavy and lonely upon their departure.  


So, I have battled this mood and am actively making this a relaxing break.  This Christmas has the potential to be quite memorable. Perhaps not especially social or traditional, but certainly a great experiment. 

I will spend my Christmas eve with Helga, Andreas, Flora and Caspar. My surrogate Austrian family here. The Pehams have been so generous with their time, home, food, and company. 

As for the rest of the break, I plan on laying in my hammock, making a trip out to Bazaruto Island for a snorkel adventure, and piddling around my house. No plans for new years yet. We’ll see. It’ll be okay!

For all those back home, I send you many hugs and Yuletide greetings! I’ll be listening to White Christmas with an extra sense of nostalgia and appreciation for all the blessings in my life. 

Merry Christmas


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What I (try) do here

I enjoy my placement in the SEED project quite a lot. I work with several people, mainly a woman named Sonia and 2 extensionists that relay between the office and training in the field. There is much to be done in developing the arts and crafts sector, which is both great to be involved in deciding which direction the project will go, but it’s often very overwhelming. Where to begin? What’s already been started? Who do I need to talk to to get things moving? Is this even productive? What is the true capacity of the weavers and our training sessions?

The list goes on and on…

I get to work on all aspects of the development, from the business to the creative side. The pricing scale and business plan are not quite as fun as developing marketing products, such as appropriate sales tags that tell a bit about the Xindzala weavers and the baskets. I have yet to come up with a really sustainable way of developing marketing material that would be technically possible for others to continue once I am gone but also projects the image of the baskets as high-end artisan goods.

Because the baskets are made in the limited free time of rural female weavers and the quantity of products developed is not yet very high, and the price reflects that.  They are rather expensive, perhaps not to most tourists, but definitely to locals. I have been responsible for setting up displays in the lobbies of several local hotels, as tourist season is about to peak for Christmas. The sales have been really encouraging, but now we don’t have enough stock to maintain the displays. The biggest challenge right now is getting the production quality and quantity up to par with the demand.

How do you simultaneously get poor people to spend their time producing something if there is no immediate fiscal reward? But then, if there is a market, how then do you get a retailer to sell your goods if you can’t guarantee your production?

Ooooh what a learning process this is.

I keep thinking about the mantra: Under-promise & Over-deliver. Begrudgingly I feel that I am struggling on the latter part. 


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a day in the life of

I realize as I review my postings from the past few months, that I have done a poor job in describing my day to day routine. So I offer a quick snapshot of how I spend most my weekdays here: 

4:30 AM – The sun rises. I, however, do not. When I first got here, a mixture of jetlag and the novelty watching the sunrise helped me to wake up bright and early. But now, I usually sleep through the first morning light.

6:30 AM – Time to get a movin’!   Up up up.

7 AM – If  I’m being good, I’ll listen to a 30 minute “Pimsler’s Portuguese” audio tape while I eat my muesli and yogurt for breakfast.

8 AM – Either get a ride to work with Andreas (the boss) or take a 25/30 minute walk to the CARE office. Work work work (* more on this later)

1 PM – Walk or get a ride home for a quick lunch. Usually scrambled eggs, with tomatoes and feta cheese, maybe on a roll or perhaps with rice. Maybe cut up a mango bought from the stand outside of our gate. 

2 to 3:30 PM – Work

3:30 PM – Portuguese “class” with Hamida, my tutor

5 PM – Walk home with Courtney and Sarah, the Peace Corps volunteers

5:30 to 9:30 PMish – Sit outside before the sun sets, play with Flora and Caspar (boss’ kids), write emails, drink tea, listen to NPR podcasts, make dinner, maybe watch an episode of Lost or House at the Peace Corps’ house

10  to 11 PM – Off to bed

2:30 AM – Sleepily battle ants that have gathered in my sheets (they are so tricky and have outsmarted even my most clever barriers)

Not exactly action packed, but it’s a nice routine. There are always things that are mixed into the batch. Portuguese classes often get canceled. Some days I go to the field. On Tuesday afternoons, I leave early for yoga with Helga (boss’ wife). On Wednesday afternoons Helga’s housekeeper makes a big African meal for the group. So Courtney, Sarah and I go over to indulge in the pleasures of goat stew, squid curry or Matapa (a local traditional meal of mashed up leaves, coconut, and crab over rice). On Fridays, the work day usually ends at 1:30 or 2 pm, so I’ll stop by the post office or the market.  

*more on my actual work next posting

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Address Announcement:

Upon emphatic request, I am posting the address where letters, postcards, packages, fan-mail and ponies can be sent:

Camille Stabler
C.P. # 16
Vilankulos, Mozambique
(add  “Airmail/Por Avion” to guarantee it hops on a plane) 

So far it has taken about 4.5 weeks for mail to arrive from the U.S., though I’ve been told it can take as little as 3 weeks. I eagerly anticipate checking the local courier’s office and finding my box jam-packed with good news and correspondence from all my friends and family now!

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