Friday, July 6, 2012

On the road again . . .

After conselho de notas I escaped with some Italian friends to Gorongosa National Park – one of the only places in Mozambique where you can still see the wildlife that Africa is famous for. After years of war and mismanagement, Mozambique is working to restore the parks and hopefully rebuild the wildlife population. So, early in the morning I woke up ready to go camping for a few days in the park before beginning my trek to the northern part of Moz. Since it’s winter here the days are relatively short and I woke up before sunrise to get things ready. (Backstory: I have a bees’ nest close to my house that has become increasingly active) As I was getting ready a couple of bees were buzzing around the lights, coming in through the gap in my roof (see rat story). It wasn’t that big of a deal until all of a sudden my house was full of hundreds of bees, all swarming around the lights. So I ran outside, awkwardly standing in the doorway to my house as a couple of Mozambican women who were getting water stared at me. I got the guard to help me spray Baygon (a crazy toxic bug spray that will probably eventually give me cancer) and cart all of my stuff outside. Luckily no one was stung and as of today the gap in my roof is partially filled in, which is cause to celebrate since I've been trying to get it closed for 6 months.

Day #1: Gorongosa
We all headed to Gorongosa – about an 8-hour drive from Inhassoro – and set up our tents only to find that the only food source (a restaurant) inside the park (the nearest town was 3 hours away) only has buffets on the weekend. And the buffet was 700 mets a person . . . which is approximately 10% of my monthly income. For one meal. Needless to say I had a momentary freak-out, after which we convinced them to make us sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Drove around a bit and saw the ruins of an old Portuguese cotton factory, warthogs, various types of antelope, and baboons. Next week I'll post pictures

Day #2: Gorongosa
We left in the morning for a drive to the town of Gorongosa (to get real food) and a drive up Mt. Gorongosa to hike to the waterfalls. The drive was super bumpy, but we made it up the mountain (oh how I dream of the US’s paved roads) and the walk and waterfalls were gorgeous. Plus we saw pineapple fields – though I’ve known for a while that pineapples grow on bushes, I still find the plants hilariously awkward. Plus, they wrap the pineapples in hay as they grow so that they don’t get sunburned. I don’t see many other non-Peace Corps Americans in Mozambique so was surprised to learn that the other guy on our tour was from Maryland . . . apparently NASA just installed some kind of equipment in the park. Unclear. We made it back to the camp and made s’mores with the rest of the marshmallows that had been sent from the states (you can’t get marshmallows in Moz). They were awesome. If you have any desire at all to send a care package, please include s'more supplies. You'll be my favorite person.

Day #3: Gorongosa and Chimoio (Mozambique’s Independence Day)
On our last day in the park we went on a game drive, not really expecting to see much since the park is definitely still in the rebuilding phase. BUT WE SAW LIONS!!! There were either 2 or 3 female lions and a male lion. It was very exciting. We also saw a ton of monkeys, warthogs, impalas, and baboons. But weirdly no elephants (that is one of animals that most everyone says they see in Gorongosa). Even if we hadn't seen any animals, just driving around that area of Mozambique was awesome as the plants and terrain are completely different than what we have here in Inhassoro. After the game drive we headed out and the Italians dropped me off at the crossroads for Chimoio where I stayed with a PCV and celebrated Mozambique’s Independence Day with spaghetti, cake and pumpkin pudding. I caught a bus at 4 am the next morning . . .

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