Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mozambique: Borders, Yachts, 2M, and Church

So there’s something I haven’t told you and it’s eating away at me. Understand that I kept this from you for this long because I don’t want you to judge me. And because enough people have been like, “Yo, Ivy. Are you, like, working in South Africa? Like, do you have a job?” The answer to that question is yes. But I will address that in another blogpost. 

Here’s the thing: I took four days off of work last week and went to Mozambique. The country. Mozambique. Yeah. 

Here’s how this all unfolded: Remember all the people I introduced you to in my post about the Berg (epic climb, sandwiches, birthdays, etc)? Campbell (Struan’s Dad) is the commodore of the Point Yacht Club (PYC) in Durban. Basically, he’s a baller. There’s this huge race (called the Vasco) from Mozambique back to Durban and some people from PYC were racing it and PYC was helping host it and so Campbell had to go to Mozam. When he invited me to come the weekend before, I don’t think he thought I would actually follow through. This is something my South African friends are slowly learning about me: I rarely say no. Especially if you’re offering me a trip to a beautiful, new country and quality time on a yacht. Just say the words, “Come to Mozambique” and my bikini is already packed.

Robyn is in Italy (boo) and so she wasn’t coming but her mom (Debbie) and her brother (Brian) were going as well as Struan and his girlfriend (Michelle) and Campbell’s cousin’s son (his second cousin?) Stuart. So we loaded two smaller boats onto a trailer, attached that to Campbell’s car and we were well on our way. Here’s the thing: we were on our way very behind schedule. Jetting for the Swaziland border and frantically making phone calls to anyone who may be able to tell us when the Swazi and Mozambique borders actually closed, we zoomed through South Africa.

“The number one rule in Africa is don’t drive at night,” Campbell declared as we headed into a darkening horizon. Lucky for Campbell, I don't mind breaking the rules.

We (barely) made it to the Swazi border right on time, dealt with a flat, and sped towards the Mozambique border where we were one of the last groups to go through before they closed up for the day. We arrived at the yacht club in Maputo (the capital of Mozambique), ate a late dinner accompanied by many a 2M (pronounced dosh M= Mozambiquan beer that will make you believe in eternal happiness), and literally fell into bed at our beautiful hotel.

Lucky for me, I had drank so many 2M that when I got up to go to the bathroom I managed to peek out of our window and glimpse a sunrise and view that would make most people melt.

 I sat on the porch in complete stupor (you would have too) until I remembered it was 5am and climbed back into bed for a few more hours of shut eye.

A few hours later, I was basking in the Mozambique sun (getting soo tan) while the men set up the boats. There was going to a small race that day, just around the harbor, before the big race that would set sail for Durban from Mozambique the next day. Campbell promptly put me and Stuart on a nice yacht that was going to be participating in the small race as well as the big race and we set off for the little race around the harbor.

Now, I would call this sailing. Wouldn’t you? I mean, I was on a boat and it was sailing in a race, so means I was sailing! Right? Hm, debatable. As the boys reminded me later, “Ivy. Sitting on a yacht and tanning is NOT sailing.” Oh yeah. Touche.

After the race, we went back to the hotel for some naptime (skype time for me) and got ready for the night, which included drinks, dinner and lots of free stuff (shirts, waterbottles, etc) from the cell phone company sponsoring the event.

While Campbell had initially insisted that he was going to put me on a boat from Mozambique to Durban, I had used my persuasive skills to convince him that I was not well suited for the trip. Stuart volunteered to go instead (little did we all know that the winds would be terrible, two boats would give up mid race, and the boat would go long stretches without eating. Sorry Stuart. You are brave). So the next morning when Stuart, Campbell and Debbie headed off to a weather briefing, the rest of us goons went in search for an adventure. 

We ended up taking a little "ferry" across Maputo to a place called Catembe. The “ferry” cost something absurdly cheap (like 20 metica for 4 people, which is 5 each, which is less than 1 rand which is about 15 US cents) and it was a little, sort of/extremely not sturdy boat filled with people. We went across in search of a beach or even something that could double as a beach but found a little town instead and started walking. We were quickly picked up by two little boys, who were probably about Jesse’s age (12! Happy Birthday you big man you!) and incredibly cute. In mixed English, Portuguese (everyone in Mozambique speaks Portuguese, thank you colonialism), Spanish, and Zulu we managed to communicate that we wanted to go somewhere to have a drink. They discussed it between the two of them and after deciding to take us to Retiro Lodge they led the way.

It was Independence Day in Mozambique and therefore a day off from school and so I didn’t feel guilty for having 12 year old tour guides. These little dudes were so sweet and interested in us. “I’m American” I told them. “AMERICA!?” they exclaimed, “BARACK OBAMA!!” Clearly they were good peeps. We talked with them the whole way there, they proclaimed us to be two married couples, and gave us each several hugs and high-fives. 

The road we were traveling down was relatively beaten down and so we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Retiro Lodge, a cute little spot with outdoor seating and a semi-beach front (by that I mean there was serious wreckage in the water, and it was so dirty that you would have to seriously drunk and deranged to get in it). But we were content. We sat down for a round of cokes, which turned into a round of rum and cokes and beers, which turned into a round of great conversation about South African corruption and HIV. After we paid the bill (about 8 dollars for like 10 drinks) we were off. 

Soon we were back on the “ferry” and back to the yacht club where:
1) I managed to get an amazing tan. Much to Debbie's horror, I pulled out my SPF 15 and bathed in the sun. She is not used to not-pale children. 
2) Brian and Struan managed to bend the mast on one of the small boats. Apparently they capsized and the mast got stuck and Campbell was yelling at them to pull harder to get it out and then testosterone took over and they bent the mast. Oops.

I managed to wake up super early the day of our departure. I had been told that it’s safe to roam the streets of Maputo alone and I took this freedom and savored it. I miss being able to walk down the street alone and rock out to my I-Pod without any worries, it’s something we can’t do here in Durban and take for granted in the States. I walked down the street early enough to catch everyone in the full swing of morning (people scurrying to work, trash being collected, lines outside of cafes, men fixing their ties in glass windows, people opening gates to city buildings) which is my favorite time of day to be in any city.

I managed to stumble upon an amazing church and after loitering and pathetically trying to look cute outside the gate for about 20 minutes, the caretaker finally let me in. 

As I stepped inside, I was immediately swept away by the burst of color.  I sat myself down in a pew and enjoyed just getting to sit alone in this church, in Maputo, in Mozambique (sigh, is this actually my life?). 


The only thing I could have wished for at that moment was that my Mamita (my grandmother) was there with me. She would have really really loved this church and loved the idea of me loving a church even more.


What else is of note? Umm. Oh, that day I got a stye that hurt like something serious and put me in a poor mood for the whole trip back (sorry to all those who had to deal with/interact with me that day). This also meant I looked like Quasimodo for about 3 days following. Karma for skipping work to go to paradise? 

Maybe but I’ll take it.

dreaming of more vacation in the middle of a work week....


1 comment:

  1. I have been a little delayed reading these posts! I have missed the last 2 but no worries caught up today! This one i have to say brought 2 lil tears to my eyes....and no it wasnt because of your tan lol but the churtch thing. the pictures are amazing. your words are breath taking.