Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I took this when our Land Rover broke down. While we were waiting for our other vehicle to come tow us, these kids just stood there silently watching us. Eventually they sat down, but apparently this was the most interesting part of their day, 4 mulungus (white people) on the side of the road.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Our house has a history

Apparently the house we live in was occupied by rebel forces during the civil war. Most of the villagers crossed the river, and this house and several others were used as command posts. People died in my house. That’s kind of trippy.

Somehow one government soldier got left on this side of the river. I don’t know if they forgot him or what. But he had a tank, and since the rebels had no weaponry to defeat a tank, he survived for about three weeks in his tank, just him and the rebels. It is said that he killed about three hundred people – a single tank in a town full of the opposition – before he was able to rejoin his own side. Now the tank sits destroyed from a land mine on the dirt road to the bridge, and the man is out of his mind.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Humorous in Mozambique

Someone asked me once what I find humorous in Mozambique. It took me a while, because many things are different, pleasing, tragic, or just plain interesting. But here's a few:

It's one thing to see a woman walking along with a bundle of wood or a basket of fruit on her head. But you have to chuckle when a woman walks by with a modern duffel bag on her head. A clash of cultures, a clash of times.

The other thing I find funny is the lever gates. They're manual! You drive up and the guard pushes down the heavy, stumpy end, and the lever goes up. Voila, why do we need electricity?

With so many vendors catering to tourists, if you don't want them hassling you, you better not give any indication of interest, not even look at them. This becomes hard when you're having coffee at a restaurant on the beach, and vendors obstruct your view of the beach, forcing you to avert your gaze. But it becomes funny when they're behind a wall, and all you see is a wooden cat bouncing along.

Coming up next time (maybe): "Reflections on the Mozambican movie theatre experience", and "The Art of Telephone Conversation with a 3-second Time Lag"... but don't hold your breath.

We've developed a saying, from last week when we were faced with the decision of whether to order a hamburger in South Africa (our only opportunity usually), or to wait until our expected BBQ the next night. We decided that "Until the hamburger is on your plate (or possibly even in your hand, the way things often go here), don't count on anything."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

New Friends

I’m making new friends—two different women are teaching me Portuguese, and today I started the first English lesson with one of these women.

But my favorite friend is Estelio, age 3, I think. We have a whole pack of kids (all boys usually) that greet us every time we cross the street, asking for candy, balloons, or to have their picture taken. For some reason I can never remember their names, so I’ve asked each one 40 times and still only remember three of them. But Estelio, his was the first name I learned.

I write this to you because I woke up this morning from a dream that someone told me he had died last week while I was in Maputo. I laid in my bed racking my brain to remember if I had seen him since I’d come back, anything to prove it was only a dream. I finally could picture him sitting on our front stoop yesterday with a newly shaved head. Whew. So I took extra joy in watching him this afternoon strut down the street, dancing to the beat of the small parade singing the praises of Frelimo. (Why was there a march, you ask? Elections are coming up, and Frelimo is a major party, the founding party of independent Mozambique, in fact. And why was I able to witness this funny scene? The power was out for an hour or two, leaving us with not much to do besides hang around outside the office, leaning on the porch wall.)