Archive for January, 2006

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.

Fires on Table Mountain

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

This past week there were huge fires on the mountain in Cape Town. Sitting in the kitchen in my new place suddenly the tone changed and the house was flooded with red light. Getting up to look out the window the sun was covered in smoke.

From the upstairs window you can see Devils Peak.

smoke skyline

And from downstairs, the smoke blowing across the afternoon sun.

smoke sun

South African Groceries

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

I’m back in Cape Town now after almost two months of travel (more on that when I get my act together). Traveling elsewhere in Southern Africa has made it really striking the things you can get in South Africa that you can’t elsewhere. This is a tribute to some of my favorite food products in South Africa.


Generally speaking, I love how fresh the food here is. Vegatables in the grocery store have actual dirt on them. These eggs have a real feather on them!! Meaning they actually had contact with a chicken! I think thats really wonderful.


For those days when your beer is just too feminine, Black Label has solved the problem my bringing you the MAN SIZED BEER! Don’t settle for less!

Blackcat PeanutButter

And lastly (for today at least) is Black Cat Peanut Butter. I think I buy it mostly because I think the label is cute. But since theres only one other kind of peanut butter in the grocery store, it doesn’t make that much difference. At first I thought maybe this brand was a distant shout out to the Black Panthers of the Black Power Movement… on further reflection I think that is very unlikely, but it still makes me think of that.