I sit in my lounge overlooking my backyard and grey skies of Joburg; I check my clock to confirm that it is in fact the 5th January 2010.
The past 3.5 weeks are a muddle in my mind, traveling through countries losing time, losing days and perhaps my sanity too somewhere in-between. Around mid-December I left a rainy Joburg, got stuck in snowstorms in Amsterdam, found my way to a winter wonderland of Arhus, Denmark and then finally to a Mozambican sauna before returning to an overcast Joburg. Full circle, stretched and now attempting to make sense of contradictions and lessons from these countries.
My scattered brain arrived in Mozambique and I was greeted by the wealth of my currency on arrival, the South African Rand to the Mozambican Metica. How far removed from my experience in Europe where every Euro and Danish Kroner spent felt like a punch to my wallet even when goods were fairly priced.
The extreme heat was sometimes unbearable until I moved into a zen-like state and decided to be ‘one with the sun’. An initial shock to my system considering that I have just returned from a place of finding five layers of clothing suitable for the outdoors and blue bruises from a sleighing accident!
I was frustrated my first two days in Moz at the lack of efficient service; waiting at least an hour for a meal. When I finally let go to the pace of the country and embraced its rhythm did the deeper understanding of the old saying come true for me “In the West they have watches but in Africa we have time”.
My thoughts often wondered to how long it takes to rebuild a nation post-conflict. Mozambique’s civil war ended in 1994 and there is slow progress on infrastructural development. There is a strong Chinese and South African presence and I wonder if/just how much the locals are benefiting. I often hear stories of how water supply to communities are being cut off because of re-channeling of the outlet. I was also shocked at Barra Bay to see 4x4s driving on the beach and feared for the lives of sea life like turtles needing to lay their eggs (most of these monsters were driven by South Africans). I don’t know enough about the country, but these are the questions I am left with.
My friends and I came to befriend Annaise, barman at the backpackers we stayed at. He took us to his home to meet his family. What warm African hosting! We were served cake and Pepsi as he called a neighbour to climb up a coconut tree to cut a few down for us; he did it in mere seconds! His home was made of large twisted leaves and bamboo branches. It may not be declared scientific at any forum but in indigenous practices we do not need to label anything as green or organic to live it.
For now, I’m content knowing that paradise is a few hours drive away from me… now just to work on my Portuguese (speaking Afrikaans it was easier for me to converse with the Dutch in Amsterdam than my Mozambican neighbours).