acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

mozambique and back

Mo-Zam-Beek – the name that ends in a smile.  How is it that when I am there, it all feels so real. Yet when I am home it seems like a dream?  Some dreams are very real after all.  But then I have sand in my bag, and in my shoes. That should tell me something. There is a bag of salty laundry too.

It is a two day drive, from the dry interior to our hideaway on the tropical east African coast. Mozambique has 2500kms of dazzling coastline – the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s a good thing because the roads are appalling – broken tar, with massive potholes and crumbled edges with vertigo inspiring drops. Much of the main coastal road is under reconstruction with no detours, so road space must be shared with construction traffic as well as giant commercial haulers.  But then the panoramic views that appear between the forests and villages, and towering coconut plantations from days gone by ; help to soothe shattered nerves. There is so much beauty here.

We arrive at sunset on the second day and let the gossamer view wash over our senses. Evening dhows glide silently past silhouetted by the sinking sun. We watch for the Dhow Jones crossing from Vilanculos bringing food supplies and friends to join us.

The week is ruled by sun and tides. The boardwalk through the mangroves has been battered by summer storms and needs some attention. Never the less, it carries us to and from the silver beach. It is our main point of entry and departure from our camp on the dunes.

On Monday we go to Matsopane Primary School in the nearby village.  Over the years, Geli from Letters from Usedom has been sending lovingly compiled boxes of school books, stationary, pens, toys and other scholarly tools to this little school in an acre of sand by a lake.  This time there are many more children to greet us . We are welcomed with cheers and waves, and young students race across hot sand. The teacher bangs a big metal triangle – the school bell.  It seems to me there are many more children at the school than at previous visits.  Perhaps more children are actually attending the school these days – encouraged by Geli’s good will gifts over the years?

The children line up according to age groups. For the first time there is silence – apart from some giggles, and nudges, as books and pens are dealt out along the rows.

This time we have some funds to hand over too.  Thanks to Mandy, Geli, Hans, Barbara,
Karen and Tienie, and Janet – we have together raised enough to build a schoolroom with a tin roof, cement floor, and brick walls.  The main school room was destroyed in the cyclone of 2007; and since then they have made do with a ramshackle collection of huts made of old tin, reeds and grass.  

It is steaming hot, and I have to keep mopping the sweat that runs into my eyes. I chat with Lucas and the Head Teacher about the new building. The children sing a song of thanks. Rain clouds bloom in the dark blue sky.  We turn to leave amid much shouting of boisterous children, who run alongside the vehicle waving and cheering happily.

The dhow jones is moored at the end of the boardwalk.  She is our main transport. I love to see her there. I have a crush on this boat – I don’t think its natural, but we set sail on her at least once a day. Somedays, we load up and spend the whole day exploring sand islands, and watching the colours of the sea for turtles, dolphins and dugongs. Other days the crew go fishing, and we join them in the evening for sunset ‘wiya-wiya’ under sail – not sure I have the spelling right but it means going nowhere in particular just about the place – messing about listening to the wooden creaks that sound like whale song.  Sigh.   

As relentless as the outgoing tides, the week slips away from me. I try to stand on its shadow – just to slow it down you understand – but it is useless.  I have unpacked all over the place – as if I came here to stay. Packing up makes me sad – hearing the Dhow Jones depart before sunrise,  makes my inner child anxious.  But life is good and with luck we will be back before too long.



Val said...

having trouble adding more photos at the moment but will persevere..

Miss Footloose said...

We've been hoping for a move to Mozambique and Iam so sorry it fell through! We've lived in Kenya and Ghana and would love to see Africa further south. It does get in your blood, Africa does!

Angela said...

Val, you told so beautifully of the spell this place is casting - even as far as to good old Germany. I am so happy you are the one who connects all of us "others" out here in the world with that magic land by the ocean. Who else could make us feel like sidling up to you, diving for dugongs and sitting in the shade, watching these cheerful children? I`m glad our money and gifts have reached the kids, and now we are waiting for the "fathers" to get that school building done! How good that more and more children are attending school! When you say thank you to all the donators, add Filomena in Hamburg who has again given me about 20 new Portuguese school books to send! Matsopane School will always be in my dreams, too. Are you sure it is real?

Anonymous said...

Oh Val, I almost felt like I was there sailing on Dhow Jones. . . . . .

More kids at school - that's positive!!

Looking forward to the pics!
Did you see dugongs again this trip?

Please please pleeeeeeeeeeezzzz can I come on any trip in the latter half of 2010 or in 2011. I promise I'll make the necessary arrangements with whoever employs me after Soccer World Cup finishes


Chris Wolf said...

I love the feeling of the beach underfoot, don't you?

Val said...

miss footloose - i am sorry that your move to mozambique didnt work out! but i hope that you get another chance for some Africa time soon

Geli - oh its real I assure you - come and see xx please extend big thanks to Filomena too of course

Janet - no dugongs this time but we had fun looking for them; of course would be great if you join us there sometime :-)

Chris Wolf - oh yes definitely!


Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Your posts always awaken some old, primitive yearning in my cells -

To have such amazing experiences - but then to be able to write about them so beautifully - what a gift!

Thank you.

Fire Byrd said...

Lovely post. Can almost see you on the Dhow Jones just litening to the sound of nothing around you, except the sea and the creaking boat.
Great news on the school front, fingers crossed that it will all be built and then the children can have a secure base to learn.

Pseudo said...

I fell in love with this post. I have always hoped to get to Africa someday....had never even thought about the coast like this.

I hope it is OK, but I like this so much, I am putting it under my sunset.

Lori ann said...

Oh Val, i've just finished reading yours and Geli's letters, i'm just smiling from ear to ear. (thank you)
I'm in a hurry now, but will be back later for another read of this gorgeous post (and to make a proper comment!)
lots of love,

Eleonora Baldwin said...

Touching and hope-inspiring, Val.
More kids is good!

Can I hitch a ride on the Dhow Jones too? That first photo is stunning.

Can you post the photos in a way that we can click on them to see them enlarged? I'm dreaming with a Beek smile on my face.

Lola xx

Anne said...

Your posts always make me feel like I want to join you on your journeys. While reading, I just imagine that I am right there beside you.
That's all that I can do.

Vagabonde said...

Such a magical trip! It is something hard to imagine today when I had to drive through clogged highways in Atlanta, but now with your pictures and your words I am in Mozambique with you. Thank you Val.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, what a wonderful few dreamy moments spent in the sun, lazing on the beach and enjoying going nowhere on Dhow Jones...thanks for my little escape from the rain.

Val said...

Bonnie - perhaps you are meant to visit Africa?

Fire Byrd - fingers crossed for the new school room! with thanks for all your efforts. i will let you know how it goes :)

Pseudonymous - you are welcome of course!

Val said...

Lori - no improper comments please :) hehe

Lola - oh i thought i had done that. had a lot of problems loading pics yesterday but will try again later.

Choices - thank you so much for coming with me!

Vagabonde - well lets not say any more about the highways in mozambique - horrifying!! but its always worth it when you finally arrive

Rob - its a good escape to keep in your minds eye - I do!

thank you all for your lovely comments, enjoy, xxxV

Reya Mellicker said...

Ah, a week ruled by sun and tides. That sounds so good.

Val, EVERYTHING about your life seems like a dream to me. What a life! Wow.

Miranda said...

Hey, we missed you on the ether while you were off drinking in the sea. Lucky fishy. Pam and Geoff left this morning, car all loaded up waved goodbye. And have just called, broken down a mere ten kilometres away!! So we'll have them a little longer!

Kristin said...

If it was dream, don't wake me up. I love the thought and words of your trip.