Monday, September 17, 2012

That's Where We Wanna Go To Get Away From It All . . .

At the end of August we had our mid-semester week-long break which is usually devoted to yet another conselho de notas. Thanks to Aunt Mary, Katie (and unbeknownst to me Andrea) ‘s trip I was able to skip the hell that normally is conselho and travel around Southern Mozambique.

As seemingly all trips do, this trip begun with a plane delay. And since the airport in Vil is in the middle of nowhere, I was more or less stuck at the airport until they arrived. Which really wasn’t a problem, except for the fact that the last chapa to Inhassoro leaves at 5 pm. When their flight was scheduled to arrive at 1:45, there wasn’t a transportation issue. But the delay meant their flight was now scheduled to arrive at 4:30 pm. So I spent the time provided by the delay freaking out and calling random chapa drivers to figure out who would be driving the last chapa of the day and if they could reserve 3 seats – which wouldn’t have worked anyways because there ended up being four of us. In the end it all worked out, one of the guys who was also waiting for people on the delayed flight offered to take us back to Inhassoro in the back of his truck. Luckily it was a relatively warm night and Aunt Mary, Katie and Andrea aren’t used to the heat, so we didn’t all freeze to death. When they finally got off the plane, I went to give Aunt Mary a hug and Katie insisted on taking a picture, per request of my mom. That’s when Andrea appeared – I had no idea that she was going to be traveling to Moz too (a welcome surprise since I subsequently went shopping in her suitcase J ).

Since they were only in Mozambique for a little over a week, we hit the road running the next morning, traveling from Inhassoro to the island of Santa Carolina (the one that Bob Dylan wrote his Mozambique song about) on a fishing boat – it was a beautiful day, although they all claimed it was soooo hot (wahemba – Xitswa for liar, also useful classroom vocab). The next day we woke up and I took them all to church. I usually don’t go to church on Sundays because mass is mainly in Xitswa, which I still am very far from understanding. But I figured that was the best way to get a good picture of the community. It also meant that many of my students (those who hadn’t left for break) were able to meet my sister, which they were absolutely thrilled about (Andrea - the official count is 10 marriage proposals). We walked around a bit more of Inhassoro, saw the school, market, etc. It was a bit weird, but great to share a bit of “my town” with people from home.

On Monday we headed to Vilankulos, I was a bit worried about the chapa ride – for those who’ve tried this kind of transportation they know it’s not for people who care a lot about personal space, smells, or general comfort (shockingly I’ve grown used to it). We got a great chapa to Vil – only took about an hour instead of the up to four hours that it can take. Shortly after arriving in Vil, I took Aunt Mary and Andrea on yet another chapa to Mapinhane, during which a lady handed over her small child to Andrea, who held her for the rest of the ride. I tried, but failed, to get a picture, the lady was rather suspicious of my photo taking. In Mapinhane we met up with the ever-hospitable Laurie and Chris, two volunteers from my group who hosted us for lunch and showed us around their electricity and running water-free life. After having some awesome feijoada made by their empregada, we took a little tour of their school. Then we jumped into the back of a truck and headed back to Vil to enjoy the awesome-ness of the hotel’s infinity pool and swim-up bar. The next day we took another boat trip, this time to Magaruque Island where we attempted to snorkel (Andrea and I are woefully inept), saw angelfish, dolphins, and dugongs, ate popcorn, and just enjoyed the white sand beach.

I once again forced Aunt Mary, Katie and Andrea into a chapa – this time we headed to Maxixe. While there isn’t too much to do in Maxixe (unless you are like me and are awed by the existence of peanut M&Ms), we met up with another PCV Laurissa and headed to a capulana (fabric) shop. We also hunted down ice cream, had awesome hamburgers (I swear there might have been bbq sauce involved), and attempted to coordinate our trip to Maputo the next day. In my search for a taxi driver to take us to the bus stop, we found someone who was willing to take us all the way to Maputo in a private car. At this point, I’m fairly skeptical of anything that appears to be a “good deal,” but my fellow travelers were ready for a private car, something I definitely wasn’t opposed to either. So the next morning we set off with one of the slowest Mozambican drivers I have ever driven with, but we also got to stop at KFC in Xai-Xai (yay!!!) and in the end made it safely to Maputo without any noteworthy incidents (although I got stuck in the front seat and therefore felt as though I should probably keep a conversation going with the driver, which was quite the challenge seeing as I’m usually asleep after ten minutes in a chapa).

In Maputo I went to the dentist, we hit up various art markets, the Moz version of Wal-Mart (where I could probably spend a whole day), rode on tuk-tuks, ate a ton of gelato, had mojitos (one year without a mojito is a long time for me), found nachos (!!) and generally enjoyed the city – who would have thought that Maputo has one of the most beautiful train stations in the world? I’m pretty sure that Aunt Mary, Katie, and Andrea didn’t find Maputo nearly as exciting as I do/did, but the art markets there are definitely better than probably anywhere else in the country, so hopefully that made up for it. On Sunday, I woke up at the crack of dawn (actually the party in the bar down the street had just gotten started, so dawn was still a little ways off) to get on my bus back to Vil in order to teach on Monday and impressively managed to make it back to Inhassoro before my fellow travelers had even left Maputo.

It was awesome to have people visit, and now I know how to be an awesome travel guide – basically you should come visit <3

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