I’ve done an awful job at updating this blog since I have been back. I really do accredit it to being busy. I mean it is taking me days and even weeks to get back to some e-mails so that really shows you how busy I can be. However, in spite of all that, here are mini summaries and pictures of some of the fun things I’ve been able to experience.
At the end of August, our group went to the Timbila Music Festival, which is in a vila named Zavala in the province of Inhambane. Timbila is plural for the word mbila and refers to the instruments used to play the music. The festival itself was hard to see because there were so many people there! We were at least able to hear the music and it definitely made me want to dance. We stayed at a gorgeous eco-lodge, complete with bucket baths and all, near the lagoon.
For the first weekend in September, two of my friends and I went on the Hash’s Away Weekend in Macaneta, and it was such a fun experience. Going to the Hash is fun, but going to the Hash and having a beach a few minutes away is even better. My friends and I camped while most others stayed in rooms, but staying in a tent was a rewarding choice because one morning we woke up and there were monkeys outside of our tents and we also saved tons of money. There were drinks, bonfires, great food and fun company. The runs were incredibly hard, but I still enjoyed them.
On September 12, we took a walking tour of a neighborhood called Mafalala. This neighborhood was established during the colonial period. The Portuguese placed all the Mozambicans here and kept them outside of the city; to get in they had to have special permits. The Portuguese also said houses made of concrete could not be built there just in case they needed to take over that area. Historically, it is such an important neighborhood in Maputo. The first president of Mozambique, Samora Machel, the famous soccer player Eusébio, and some of Mozambique best artists, like Noémia de Sousa are all from this neighborhood.
On September 13, we went to a lobolo, a dowry type ceremony that is very traditional here. Essentially, when a man wants to make a woman his fiancé, he must pay a price for her in the form of gifts to her family (which the family demands I might add). I was able to watch the exchange of gifts take place making this a great cultural experience. In Mozambique, a lobolo is often enough to say two people are married.
My language partner, Cleonice, and I went to visit Maputo’s Museum of Natural History. The museum building itself is about 100 years old. Inside, the main room focuses on the animals in the country. A lot of these animals do not exist anymore unfortunately as so many of them have been killed over the years. There is another section on the sea creatures that exist along the coast of the country. The museum also has an anthropologic area.
At UEM’s veterinary campus, there is laboratory sponsored by the organization Apopo, which trains and uses rats to detect tuberculosis in various samples. The rats that are used are the size of small dogs and come from Tanzania. They are absolutely adorable. Maybe the U.S. can start training some of those alley rats to do similar work? Anyways, they are given a row of samples and they sniff each one. When they detect tuberculosis in the sample, they usually stay at the given sample for more than 5 seconds. It takes a few million dollars to train each rat and you can see the investment that has been made into them when they are doing their work. In Mozambique and other surrounding countries, eating rats is pretty common. There is a story about a security guard at a lab that killed and cooked up one of these rats worth millions of dollars. The most expensive meal that man will ever eat was a rat.
And lastly, to get us all up to date, this past weekend was a holiday celebrating Armed Forces Day here in Mozambique. We took advantage of the holiday to travel to one of Maputo’s most popular beaches called Inhaca. It is a very beautiful place and most people take advantage of scuba-diving lessons there because of the sea-life that exists. Unfortunately, doing all of those things is very expensive so we settled on going to an island called Ilha dos Portuguêses. We had the island to ourselves and found some awesome seashells. I was really happy and relaxed.
And that has been my life moseying around Mozambique the past two months.
At the Timbila Music Festival in Zavala
At Praia de Macaneta with Joanne and Ivee during the Maputo/Matola Hash House Harriers Away Weekend
Samora Machel’s house in Mafalala.
Exchanging of gifts at the lobolo
Cleonice and I at the Museum of Natural History in Maputo
Holding Galinha the rat at the Apopo laboratory