Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today the forecast was for the temperature to be 24 Celcius (about 76 F). I talked with a friend of mine in the UK who was joyful because this week was hot. I asked her what hot was--today was supposed to be 26--"It's the hottest it's been all summer!" I told her I was rejoicing because it was cooler today. Later, as another MCCer and I were talking about the beautiful weather, she told me that as she was walking with a Mozambican colleague who commented, "It might be 26 but it feels like 49 (120 F)!"

Monday, September 19, 2011

X Africa Games Finished

I often do not have things in common to talk about, our cultures being so different, North American vs Southern Africa, individualism vs the communal, direct vs the indirect, etc. Often the only subjects to talk about in depth are about work, kids and women (our wives of course) but only to a point since the way we raise our kids and gender roles are clearly different. But sports are universal. They have the same rules. Sure there is some different ones, netball, andebol, which are common to Southern Africa, but I can still understand the objective and the language of these games. I can still cheer at a well hit volleyball, a goal or a winning swim.

The games are over but they were fun while they lasted. Sadly, Mozambique did not win one gold medal. South Africa took the cake with something like over 150 medals. But Mozambique had a good showing. The women's basketball almost made bronze, the men's silver. Karate, boxing, canoing, swimming, chess all took bronze. Most importantly the games happened in a country that is still desperately poor and with an infrustructure that makes such events difficult to host. Hooray Mozambique!

I made enchiladas for supper tonight according to the recipe in the More with Less Cookbook. I’ve been thinking about them for several months, so this week I decided to make them. Making them was a four day process. On Monday, I made a double recipe of tortillas. On Tuesday, Joél bought a kilo of dried beans. Yesterday, I soaked the beans and we cooked the beans in the pressure cooker. Today, I made refried beans and assembled them. We ate them for supper. They were good but I don’t think I’ll make them again—took too much work!
15 September 2011

Changing Seasons

The seasons are changing. Officially it is from winter to spring, but here it’s known by the cool season to the hot season. However, having spent the majority of my life where spring exists there are a few marks of spring.

There’s the smell of spring—that smell of opening the house up after having it closed for several months. There’s the feeling of wanting to get outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and not complaining on a hot day because it actually feels nice. I am reminded of the glorious spring days at EMU in April, trying to finish up papers, yearning to be outside instead of in my room studying—I wasn’t able focus if I tried to study outside like many other students were. There are the flowering trees, with fragrance filling the air.

Our apartment is cool; the outside is warm. I wish I could hold this coolness in but time keeps marching closer and closer to the hot season where the ceiling fans are on all the time instead of just in the evening when the house is cooling off. The sun is gradually creeping closer to the position for the hot season. Last year when I saw the sun beginning to shine in our apartment at 4:00 in the afternoon, I marveled and thought it to be my favorite time of the day. This year, watching it come in, I wonder how long will it be until it is coming in at noon and heating up our apartment for the day. Our tans are starting to come back. The familiar stripes from my Chaco sandals are becoming defined as I wear my sandals walking around the city.

Ironically, some of the trees are changing its leaves and losing them. So we see huge bright red leaves littered on the sidewalks and streets as these trees transition. The huge tree across from our apartment building in the Catholic Church’s yard is losing its leaves; in a few months it will sprout new leaves. Though the calendar reads September, for my northern hemisphered mind, I wonder if it shouldn’t be Lent and we should be preparing for Easter instead of in Common Time in the church liturgy, finishing the liturgical year.

12 September 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

I opened my e-mail this morning and this is the message that I received:

We received the tragic news this morning that Joshua Mukusya, the CEO of Utooni Development Organization, was attacked by thugs early this morning and was shot and killed. Details are few at this point but it appears as if Joshua was traveling to his shamba (field) in Simba (about 40-60 km from Kola) when he was attacked and killed

Joshua was the man who dedicated his life to building sand dams in Kenya for the past 20 or so years. He was a passionate Christian man who dedicated his life to others to bring them water and food. He was the one who took us around in 2006 to visit the sand dams and encourage us to try in Mozambique. We knew him. He is the face we see on the videos from Excellent Development. He is the one who inspired us. He is the farmer who by his own two hands figured out that this could be done. He was the one who told us that it would be the church that would save Africa. 

"Hard pressed, but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed." II Corinthians 4:8

May we carry on the vision.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Olympic Swimming

The African Games are still going on so this morning we decided to jump in the car and head out to the complex near Zimpeto, a suburb outside of the main Maputo city where a new stadium and olympic size swimming pool have been built. We wanted to see the swimming since neither of us had ever witnessed such an event other than on tv and had never been to a pool of such caliber. We drove about 30 minutes through traffic on the new improved road with new stoplights, new median, drainage ditches and turning lanes. The traffic seemed to go a bit smoother then in the past with the new improvements but the city still needs to take other measures to manage the traffic.

The stadium was quite impressive and glorious when considering the context. It is situated right next to an informal market a km away and neighborhood which consists of mainly tin roofed, cement block homes. It would be considered slums in most parts of the world but here it is more like middle class. 

We entered into the most beautiful pool arena I have ever been into with cristal clear water, electronic equipment and everything that is needed for an olympic style event. As we walked up the stairs a huge window frames the new stadium in all its glory, obviously a well planned visual. We made our way to the seating area. The first heat of swimmers were the handicapped who swam 200 meter freestyle. It was a pleasure to witness such an event with persons who were missing limbs, partly paralized and blind all competing in a world class event with dignity. We then witnessed the 50 meters and 200 meter freestyle competitions. It went on for about an hour and then it was over and we left since we still wanted to do a little bit of shopping in the city before getting home for lunch. It was quite amazing to go to such an event in a country such as this but what pride it must bring to Mozambique.

Oh, the Mozambican women's basketball team lost yesterday in the semi-finals. But hats off to them. They looked like they could compete with some of the world's best and certainly the best in Africa. Congradulations!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

X Africa Games

We have experienced an exciting week here in Maputo. The 10th Africa Games are taking place here for two weeks. Events are happening all over the city include boxing, karate, cycling, soccer, swimming, canoe racing, triathlon, gymnastics, ping pong, basketball, volley ball and so on. It has been so exciting to be able to walk 15 minutes to see volleyball and basketball and hear cheers next door in the pavilion we can see from our house as the Mozambicans continue to win boxing matches.
So the other day I walked downtown to see what I could see. I passed through the crowds on the street, some going to the games others just doing normal busness. I walked right down to where there are two pavilions for basketball and volleyball. I walked right into the volleyball games without paying anything to see Cameroon and Kenya play. Wow, every bit as exciting as volleyball I have seen in the US and in a nice renovated auditorium. I am sure it would be nothing special for someone who has just come from the US where sports arenas abound but to me after 5 years in Mozambique it was like walking into the Pershing Center in Lincoln, though much smaller. These two teams happened to be the teams that one Silver and Bronze so the air was ripe with competition as Kenyans and Cameroonians danced and cheered the whole 4 matches.
Mozambique has done fairly well so far for such a poor and undeveloped country. They won their first ever medal in swimming, silver in the 100 meters. The women’s Karate won silver and the boxing is showing potential. The women’s basketball is actually quite good, basketball and football being Mozambique’s favorite sports. They have so far won all their games in front of an ecstatic Maputo crowd.
Today I went to work and I noticed there was hardly any traffic. Our maid was 45 minutes late and walked in tired and commenting on how far she had to walk. The police had stopped the traffic way out and she had to hoof it from there. The city was practically shut down most of the day. Traffic was stopped by police at all the major intersections to make way for the bicycle race that took place. Of course those in charge never told anyone when or where it would take place and it only appeared in the newspapers this morning as the morning commute, which is usually messy, was taking place. It took the city by surprise. I heard the frustration from stranded motorists throughout the day but those who were waiting just went and watched the races. You could feel the excitement in the air as bikes pass by at breakneck speeds. I decided to walk the streets and find where it was at. I had never seen a real live bike race having only watched the Tour de France and other major races on television. It turns out they were passing right by our house. Amazing! They started at 8 in the morning and now at 3 in the afternoon they are still going. We had friends that did not know it and ended up in the city. They were stranded all day and he abandoned his car and they went for ice cream.
And guess what, this will all happen again tomorrow. Tomorrow there are more bicycle races, swimming and soccer games. Saturday the basketball starts again. I hope I will get to see something.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Girly Girl
It's starting to get warm again. In preparation for sandal weather, I painted my toe nails over the weekend. When Nadia discovered my dark pink nails, she wanted them too. Her feet were terribly dirty and we were in the midst of getting ready for the day, so I promised her that I would paint her nails another time. Today I came home from work and Rabeca, our househelp/babysitter told me that Nadia had gotten into the white-out and painted her own toe nails.