Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Manica, Mozambique

Monday, January 30th, 2006

One of my ongoing challenges of being abroad has been trying to keep my writing/report/storytelling up to date with my experiences. In that vein I have been vainly attempting to get myself to write a comprehensive account of my trip to Mozambique. Having more or less admitted defeat, I thought I should at least get my act together and post a little bit here.

I spent a little under a month in Mozambique, spending more time on buses that I ever thought possible. One of my favorite parts of the trip was going to Manica. Manica is a small town about an hour away from Chiomoio (which is the capital of the Manica province). We went there to get away from the touristy coast and try to see some of the mountains that we had heard were so beautiful. The night before we left Vilanculo we mentioned to a guy we had met there that we were heading on to Manica in the morning. Patrick says “I live in Manica! Wait, let me call my wife, you can stay with her.” So the next day after 13 hours of travel (bus heading North leaving at 4am, dropped us at intersection of major highways, taxi heading west to Chimoio, taxi from Chimoio to Manica, walk to house) we arrived at Steffi and Patrick’s home. Steffi is an aid worker from Austria who met Patrick while she was in Zimbabwe. They were married in Austria, had a baby girl, and moved to Mozambique when Steffi got a job there. Their daughter speaks four languages – German, Shona, Portuguese, and English. Steffi welcomed us into her house with unbelievable hospitality. We must have been a startling image of four very dirty tired Americans that showed up at her doorstep.


The above picture is from across the street from there house. Most of the houses in Manica look like they were built in the 1960’s and haven’t been touched since then. It gives a very strange picture to what the area must have looked like at the time. This pool was one of the abandoned structures in town. Apparently a few years back the city had been given a grant to refurbish the pool and get it working again. All of the paint was fresh, there was a new fence around the pool, and all the medal fixtures were brand new. Then, the story goes, the mayor bought himself a new car, and work stopped.

Meanwhile, the town was going through a water shortage… the rainy season started a few days after we arrived, but when we arrived there was no water in the taps. The water was carried up in buckets, and there was hardly enough to flush the toilets, let alone take a proper bath. So the thought of actually filling that pool with water was a little shocking. Here you can see women lining up in the poorer section of town to get water from the pump.


Manica treated us really well, and I was sad to leave.


Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

dune 45

Last week I took a couple days to go to Namibia. Amazing trip. I found the landscape of Namibia really thought provoking. It made me realize that the majority of the world live in places that I consider “the middle of nowhere” and really, the fact that I have lived in urban centers my whole life is strange in a global sense. It also made me want to explore the Namibian independence struggle. All of the colonialism schemes and independence struggles I’m familiar with have a really big focus on urban centers, which are rare in Namibia – there seems to only be one. Namibia was for a very long time a protectorate of South Africa, which also makes their history an interesting one. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to live in a place like that, or even what it would be like to try and think about the economy of a country with no urban centers and almost no farmable land. Very thought provoking.

It was a wonderful trip, and I would go back in a heartbeat. I was sad to return to Cape Town where it was chilly… they keep saying its going to be summer, but I feel I’ve been mislead. (but I shouldn’t complain, I went swimming today, and I’m wearing flipflops).

the “kodak factory” version of the trip