Monthly Archives: December 2010

Cheers!

After one rather frustrating work week I am finally FREE!!!! Our baskets didn’t make it to our buyer in South Africa.  It took me several days of running around, facing the depths of bureaucracy and whining about how the process of exporting shouldn’t be this difficult – but finally I talked to our buyer and we agreed that it can wait.

And it can.  I can tackle this monster next year when everyone has less on their plate and there is time to make sure it’s done right.  Now that I’ve accepted this, I suddenly feel a great sense of relief and real excitement for the holidays.

I’m officially off to Spain to see some of my family and friends, and most especially to meet Teo, my nephew, for the first time! I’ve been counting the days since September and it’s finally here.

Since I won’t have a computer to add updates for the next few weeks, I’ll just say Happy Holidays now.  But worry not,  I’ll be back in Mozambique in January. Hope this finds all you dear readers safe and well.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

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The Solution

Sometimes it’s easy to slip into the bad habit of generalizing and lumping together the entire population of Mozambique as a single “they”. Ei: “They just don’t get the concept of monogamy.”  Extremes and perspectives differ but that is not a complete truth here or anywhere.

Then again, there are certain generalizations that I find are pretty much always true. Stereotypes come from somewhere, don’t they?

Anyway, last week I went down to Maputo for a national arts fair. The whole experience was great and it was satisfying to see how far our products have come in terms of quality, quantity and sales, not to mention how well our two weavers did doing all the transactions and interacting with the buyers.

That being said, I am pretty sure I have discovered the root of all Mozambican underdevelopment (are you ready for the big general “they” commentary…). Their problem is disorganization. Yes, that is it. Pure simple messiness.

I came to this conclusion when after spending several hours setting up the display and organizing our back stock, I looked under the table and our baskets were all over the place.

The vision of this heap of products all tumbled together with trash, chip bags, baby clothes, purses, pens, and who knows what else instantly made me fume with a feeling close to rage. WHAT. IS. THIS!?!?!

So I gathered my wits, took a deep breath and set about cleaning up. Circle patterns with circles, checkers with checkers, etc. If they don’t stack, sort them by general size. Right? When people wanted to see more of a certain size or design, then all they had to do was quickly pull out the appropriate goods.

The next day I walked up to our booth and looked under the table… and it was all mixed together. BAHHHHH!!! – what was I going to do!?

I took a deep breath and explained to my counterpart and weavers that I had spent a long time the day before sorting so that we could find “the one basket” they always wanted to sell. Of course they had even witnessed me sorting and stacking the day before, but when I mentioned that I wanted them keep it clean Sonia said, “Oh I hadn’t noticed.

I am not the most OCD person when it comes to keeping organized. I tend to stack and get lost in the mix of to-do lists, files, and random “stuff” that doesn’t seem to have a proper home. However, I stick to my theory – if everyone here in Mozambique was a bit more attentive to being tidy and less oblivious to their personal mess – then I think the world would be a better place.

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Apples & Oranges with Susan Fang

It’s rather surreal being in Mozambique and imagining the totally different lifestyles of my friends and family back home . So today I’d like to introduce a new series I’m calling Apples & Oranges to offer a little glimpse into the varying ways we lead our lives on different sides of the globe.

To start if off, I asked my friend Susan Fang to give me a few details and sketches depicting her life back on the state side.  Susan is lovely and is a great artists and designer.  We went to undergrad together at UGA and she has since gone to graduate school and moved on up to the Brooklyn, NYC. Funny enough, she’s living with my brother and his wife now (see below for more details).

So without further ado, I offer…

(click on image for larger view)

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