Monday, October 25, 2004

DIRE, letters, & elevators

Today I got my DIRE, finally. Now I know what it stands for: Documento de Identificacao e Residencia para Estrangeiros. It's a very official-looking (like a passport) small booklet with my picture (a very bad one) in it.

I sent my first letters from Mozambique yesterday. It was very exciting, and I got extra stamps just to save. And this made me feel like a stamp collector, and I got sort of nervous about that.

And today I rode an elevator at the lawyer's office. I never had before because T. said she saw people stuck on it one time, and so every time we've walked to the 5th floor (which is 12 flights of stairs). But today I was with S. and he called me a coward, so I figured what the heck, and we went. The entry to it was a single push/pull door, just like any other door, and there was no inner door. It was very weird, but we made it both up and down safely, so hooray. For non-trappedness and new experiences.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Election Season

For those of you who have wondered why I haven't responded to any of your e-mails for a while, I've been stuck in Guija with no access to e-mail for 5 weeks. And now I'm about to leave again. But keep writing, because I am trying to do my correspondence off-line up in Guija.

'Tis the season for elections, all over the world. I'm not sure I'll get a chance to vote, because of the convoluted steps involved at the embassy and my infrequent visits to Maputo. But CNN did an interesting piece last week about expats as a voting group. And it's true-- because we have our own separate issues, different from domestic voters. One of them of course is a heightened sensitivity to international opinion, and that's not just a psychological concern but sometimes a physical one as well. We got a distribution from our head office about terrorism targets-- it was actually something like an Al Qaeda training manual-- and it actually rated nationalities. Americans are number one on the hit list, while Canadians are fifth, even below Spain for some reason. So while we tend to joke about this (what else can you do) with our Canadian colleagues, the reality is still there.

Meanwhile, Mozambique is having its own elections, on December 1 and 2. The race is between the Frelimo party, which is the party that has ruled since independence and is somewhat socialist/communist, and Renamo which was the other side in the civil war that simply ended without a winner in 1994. So if the victor is the Frelimo guy, who is quite radical, there could be unrest against his radicalism and also against the suspicion that Frelimo defrauded two elections in a row. If Renamo wins, the economic situation could become destabilized (most of the big businesses are owned by Frelimo party members) and who knows what else since Renamo has not yet been in power in Mozambique. All of us expats will hang out in Maputo for the election, just in case the situation gets out of control and we need to make a speedy departure. Sorry Mom. But I don't really expect much trouble for us.

On a lighter note, we're planning an employee Christmas party for right after the elections (a concept which seems foreign to all polled), and less than a week later, I'm on a plane home for two weeks.