Thursday, April 29, 2004

Around Maputo

Last night we went to the Polana, the ritziest hotel in Maputo, for coffee. We just sat and talked over dessert, and then we walked out by the pool, and looked over the edge of a cliff out at the Indian Ocean. It was dark, but I was just pinching myself and saying "Wow. I am at a fancy hotel, looking out at the INDIAN Ocean! Can I believe my luck?"

The currency here is the metical, plural meticais, pronounced "meticash", and there are almost 25,000 of them to the dollar. This poses interesting problems: 1)I have to practice the Portuguese words for "One million, eight hundred forty-two thousand, five hundred MT (meticais)"-- you know in language classes they only spend like five minutes on those big numbers! 2)I have to exercise different mental math muscles-- quick, what's 1.2 million divided by 25,000? or 500 times 500,000?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

E-mail is wonderful

Yeah, e-mail is wonderful. I'm glad that it's helped you. It's a very different e-mail atmosphere than in Russia, and of course I didn't have any in Pakistan. But I mean, I'm just sitting in an office all day, and I have to be here even if I don't have anything to do, so I just e-mail, and it's ethernet, so from where I sit I could just be anywhere in the West. It's weird.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Arrived in Mozambique

My Portuguese prof wrote back and so I wrote him this-- I think I'll keep writing him, just for the forced grammar practice. It took a long time to write this, but today at least, I don't have a lot else to do. And what the heck, I'll translate it for you too! :-)

Bom dia! Good day! Agora estou aquí em Maputo. Now I am here in Maputo. Vou estar aquí no escritório/casa por umas semanas. I am going to be here in the office/house for a few weeks. Eu chegei ontem. I arrived yesterday. Minha bagagem era tarde, mas está aquí agora, felizmente. My baggage was late, but it is here now, fortunately. Falei com o homem que me ajudou com a bagagem (which turned out to be só minha mochila) e era fácil. I talked with the man that helped me with the baggage and it was easy. Isso era uma surpresa. Mas não sei se ele tem duas mulheres e cuatro filhos, ou se dois dos filhos têm as mulheres! But I don't know if he has two wives and four sons, or if two of his sons have the wives! Quero falar com o guarda com frecüencia- ele é uma audiência cativa. I want to talk with the guard frequently- he is a captive audience.

Na quarta-feira eu e os outros americanos irão à Africa do Sul para os vistos. On Wednesday I and the other Americans will go to S.Africa for visas.

O tempo é bem. The weather is nice. E quase inverno, assim não muito quente nem úmido. It is almost winter, so not very hot nor humid. Mas é ainda pegajoso. But it is still sticky.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Thinking about travel

Just one thought so far: Traveling across the world by plane is an interestingly gradual way of being introduced into another world. Starting in the airport is pretty much American culture, with a touch of international flavor because I checked in at the int'l desk. In Atlanta, waiting for the flight to Johannesburg, I was in America but with a whole bunch of Africans. This was even more the case in the South African airport and on the flight to Maputo, but yet still the whole thing was in a familiar, Western context. And now of course I'm here and I remember, oh yeah I'm in a different country. And I'll be here tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.... It hasn't really sunk in yet. The last month and a half has been a bit too surreal.