Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"I like to spend some time in Mozambique"

Bob Dylan put it well - I'm having a good time here. I'm past my planned two months in the country. The posts have been slow coming lately because I've been putting in some sleepless hours trying to finish my poultry paper. Pretty soon I think I'm going to start sweating feathers. Fortunately, I've taken a few breaks and been able to take in Mozambique. A few of the highlights over the past 10 days or so:

Weekend at the beach
I like the beach, but as I live on one I don't go crazy over it like some people do. Still, Mozambique's beaches are some of the best in Africa, from what I hear. I went to one of the crappier ones, but that's a relative term. The water was crystal clear and 20-foot waves were breaking right at the beach, which made for some fun jumping into them and getting spit out like a rag doll. Most everyone else didn't think so. We met some crazy South African guys who lived there, and basically said, "There's about a 90% chance you'll get stung by a jellyfish." The truth feels like burning. A few cold beers solved that problem.

There was about 25 of us there in a few beach houses. Other than body surfing and jellyfish, the weekend was filled with barbecuing, passing out on the beach, reading, a couple parties, beach football, passing out on the beach, a crazy game of charades (see my flatmate Carlos getting it), passing out on the beach, etc. And ole' Bobby D was right, "There's lots of pretty girls in Mozambique." But he failed to mention that they're all prostitutes. On the first night, a couple guys and I went to a club, and by the luck of the draw, the three girls I danced with turned out to be there for something other than a twirl, dip and drink. After dancing with the first, my friend from Amsterdam, who I won't name here because he works for int'l aid organization, turned to me, "Uh Rob, you know they're hookers, right?" "Oh yea, I know." Riiight.

Not your average safari
This past Saturday two other TechnoServe guys, Steve and Mike, and I hired our TechnoServe driver to take us to Kruger National Park on the border of South Africa, arguably the best animal playland in southern Africa. We were so tired from a cocktail party/fund raiser the night before that most of us were falling asleep (fortunately not the driver). The animals kept us going - from impala, giraffe, wildebest, warthog, monkeys, zebra, buffalo, and so many impala that we eventually didn't even stop for pictures. We saw an impala hanging in a tree, but not the leopard that others saw drag it up there and eat some, saving the rest for later. Apparently you're not supposed to lean out the window like Steve and I were doing to snap some killer pics of a heard of elephants crossing the road. Some Safari Nazi lady started yelling at us and honking her horn from behind us. I think she scared the elephants more than we did.

It wasn't really how I imagined a safari. I always thought we would be in a rugged jeep with some crazy local guy wearing a hard bucket hat and all decked out in gear, a gun to his side. We'd be speeding through the wilderness, splashing through water with mud splattering on our vehicle while the driver yelled something intense at us and tribal music blared in the background. Instead, we were in the company truck, cruising on sealed roads (sometimes dirt), picking up a local radio station that was playing a "Best of America" mix. It was all over the map. Four consecutive songs might be "Tiny Dancer", Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind", "Hit Me Baby One More Time", and "Dark Side of the Moon". The lions, unfortunately, were hiding that day.

Super Bowl and the sunrise - the perfect pair
Like any American worth his salt, I found a way to watch the Super Bowl. The kickoff, though, turned out to by 1 am our time. Steve, Mike, another TechnoServe gal, and couple Peace Core volunteers got together around 11 for a 7-hour battle against sleep. It was great getting to watch football after all the soccer and cricket I've seen the past months - although we got the international broadcast, which meant we didn't get the commercials and the broadcasters gave definitions for everything. Quote: "A touchback allows you to take the ball to the 20-yard line." But then again, I guess John Madden calling the game wouldn't be much different. In the end, the team we were behind came out on top, and just as the game was finishing we watched the sun come up. I don't think everyone else in Maputo had been watching - the only streets more silent than Maputo's were probably Indianapolis's. By 6:00 am I was back home and getting to bed.

Now back to chicken...


  1. Hi Rob, Great to hear all the news. We interview the finalists tomorrow for next year. Where is next for you after Mozambique? Kelly Moore

  2. Hey Kelly, looking forward to hearing who you guys choose. Definitely let me know. Right now I'm not sure about my next move, though I'm working on a couple of things...should know soon.

  3. Sounds like some great times. Pretty much the same type of stuff we've been doing around here. Riight!

  4. Just an FYI, wanted to share a opinion we did this week for Huffington Post (please feel free to cross-post) about our travels in Lilongwe, Mozambique. We blog everyday from all over Africa at a website call Border Jumpers (http://www.borderjumpers.org) and for the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet (http://blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet/).

    Here is the link: "1,000 Words About Mozambique"

    All the best, Bernard Pollack and Danielle Nierenberg