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Friendly Visit

Earlier I wrote about how I get excited about visitors and start sampling my activity list before they arrive. The visitors I was referencing are two of my oldest buddies who came to see me in June.

John came all the way from London and Neena from the US. We’ve been friends since we were kids, so when we get together we’re a trio of chatter and giggles. Well, John is a quiet soul but Neena and I are not – so we made more than our fair share of ruckus laughing and being stupid together.

It was the first time for both of them to visit Africa, and since they were in Mozambique for just one week so we had to jam pack their trip with as many of the local sites as possible. I always like to take guests to the Red Dunes because I think they are one of the most beautiful and unique locations on the coast here. Luckily we ran into a local friend who was heading that way, so we quickly bought sandwiches, beer and chips and zipped north of town, past the paved road and through deep sandy roads to get to our destination.  We sat in the shade eating our snacks and enjoying the breeze, dunes behind us and shallow aqua seas in front.

Later, we were traveling in a chapa and even I was impressed with how many people they fit in the van. Normally chapas are overfull with 20 people, but somehow 28 humans managed to cram into the car for the 5 hour journey. Poor John was smooshed into the smallest tini-tiny spot having to hold his neighbor’s baby.

Oh how I wish I had a camera to capture John’s face at that moment. It was priceless.

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Meeting The Presidente

Did I tell you that I had the chance to meet the president of Mozambique!?

I went with my favorite colleague, Roberto Cassiano, to a small village called Mussengue in the Mabote district several hours west of Vilankulos.  This itty bitty town was preparing for the president’s visit and THOUSANDS of people showed up to celebrate.  Don’t ask me where they all came from, since there really isn’t much close by for at least 10 km, but there we were in the middle of a huge crowd enjoying the excitement.  It seemed like a rather random place for a presidential visit but Guebuza has promised economic growth for the region and aparently came to check up on his constituents.

My responsibility was to help with the CARE display table and be ready to offer a basket to the president if he stopped by. We waited for hours then finally five helicopters zipped in and landed in the middle of the field.  Everyone started dancing and singing and getting all agitated for a chance to see the Big Chefe!

Roberto got a chance to talk to Guebuza for seval minutes and explain the different elements of our project.  Then Sara, my field extentionist, gave him a big beautiful Xindzala basket.  I even got the double cheek kiss and handshake. We’re basically BFF now.

The funniest part of the whole afternoon was when my friend Mandy, a Peace Corps volunteer in the area, showed up.   She said one of her students ran up to her shouting, “Hay uma otra Mulungu aqui!” or “There is another white person here!”  Mandy said finding me was like playing Where’s Waldo, except not so hard.  Not only did the people get the great honor of seeing their country’s leader, they also got to see TWO white people in one day. Pretty exciting stuff!

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Seascape

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Bad Puppy

I know I’ve mentioned my dog Simba before, but I don’t think I’ve ever  gone into detail about  how quirky he is.  I am mildly obsessed with this  wiley creature, but I would definitely not say he’s a good dog.

I’ve realized there are two kinds of dogs: 1. The kind that lives in people-world and though it knows it’s different, really it’s just a human with four legs and a lot of hair. This kind of dog likes to lean on you, needs attention and has a whole array of identifiable emotions.

Then there is dog option 2. the African street dog. This one is a lot more independent,  savvy,  usually likes friendly attention from humans but has its entirely own social network away from us.  This kind of dog wants a good scratch behind the ear but is not needy or particularly loyal.

Simba fits somewhere inbetween category 1 and 2. Yes he is well fed, sleeps inside, and will guard the house and compound yet he is definitely not a lap dog.  He knows his name but only comes when he wants to, is cautiously loving, and certainly moody.  Also, he’s eerily intuitive about when it’s bath-time.

Yesterday was bath-time. Because I know he understands the word, I avoid saying it the day before and I even avoid trying to think about the hose and where his special flea shampoo might be stored away.  Of course, unless it’s a total spontaneous event some planning has to go into it,  starting off with catching him.

I swear this dog is a mind reader.

Somehow he always knows what’s on the agenda and won’t even let me come near to pet or feed him.  He gets all jumpy and runs away like I’m the evil vetrinarian who castrated him.

All day long I tried to swoon him over with cheese and big bowls of food – no luck.  I thought I had him when I brought out the walking leash, but he caught on real fast and zipped away.  Finally the sun set and it was too late. Only when I had totally given up on the idea completely, Simba came strolling casually inside, wagging his tail, knowing he won that battle.

Bad. Smelly. Puppy.

 

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Gettin’ Back on the Blog Wagon

Okay. Okay. I know.

I have some major blogging to catch up on, holidays to review, and notes from Vilankulo (including a brush with the law) to post before my readers give up on me.   But not yet.

My camera has officially gone to the dark side and died and frankly I’ve been less than productive in my journaling and water coloring since I returned to Mozambique after new years.  But worry not – I promise to get back into the swing of things!

For now, let me just leave you with a photo of me meeting my nephew Teo for the first time in December.

I’m all puffy and red because as soon as I saw Travis and Marta walk through door at the airport I burst into a tears.

He’s really the happiest, cutest baby I’ve ever met. We fell in love instantly.

Hold tight, I’ll be posting more soon!

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Camera Lens

As much as I enjoy imagining how each boat ended up abandoned and quietly falling apart in the bay, I knew that it would be a photographer’s visual smorgasbord of decay and haunting beauty (see boats. posts for more about the topic). For this reason, it was also one of the spots I was most excited to take my visitors to.  

Christopher developed his film (yes, real film!) and posted some beautiful photos he took while he was here at the end of May.  There are some really great shots of the graveyard and a few other moments from the weekend in Vilankulo, so I thought I’d go ahead and share a few of my favorites here.

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Christopher also has a talent for portraiture.  His cousin Charlie once said, “I actually like the photos that Chris take’s of me. That’s saying a lot because no one likes photos of themselves.”  I think that Charlie had it right.

You can see more of Christopher’s photography on his website here.  

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Ze Holga

I’m off on a roadtrip adventure this weekend. Courntey, Sarah and I are venturing north to Gorongoza National Park for the long  weekend. The park is in process of revitalization – trying to bring back animals and set up some infrastructure for tourism. I hear that it’s quite overgrown and most animals haven’t ever seen people! Should be exciting to see how wild it actually is.

Until I get back, I thought I’d offer some photos from my Holga. Christopher was amazingly generous and lugged my film back to the US and even developed it for me. Here are a few of the digital copies: 

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