Flying to Nampula
It is Monday afternoon in Nampula and I have finally found an opportunity to work on my blog. It has been more than a week since I was last on the internet. Since arriving in Nampula a week ago, it seems I have been on the run non-stop. There are about 7 villages outside of Nampula that I have worked at, not to mention 4 sites in the city where we are conducting health seminars. My days usually started out at 7 in the morning and I often didn’t get back to my hotel until 9 or 10 at night. The thing that has become quite obvious to me is that I was spoiled while in Maputo and Vilankulo. Nampula is a no-frills city. If you want to experience the real African way of life, without the western influence, this is the place. Every day that I have visited the villages and the people of the Nampula Province, I come to a closer realization of how fortunate I am to be a U.
S. citizen and to have the opportunities that I have. The sad fact is there are virtually no opportunities for most of the people here. Even if they want to better themselves, whether it is higher education or financial stability, it is simply not a realistic goal.
Children at a village outside of Nampula.
Nampula is 2100kms north of Maputo and is the third largest city (about a half million people) in Mozambique after Maputo & Beira. It is also inland, about 150 miles to the nearest beach. This makes it a hot, humid, dusty industrial city. It has palm trees everywhere. There are also many mangos, giant avocado, banana, papaya and coconut trees, but most of these are outside the city. The sand is red and found everywhere: it settles on the floors, windows, computer screen, bedspread, and mingles with truck fumes and sunlight to form a yellow haze. But then, this isn’t some refurbished African city with stylized Afro-chic boutiques and fancy fruit cocktails.
There are very few western hotels or restaurants in Nampula, so I wouldn’t suggest this place for tourism.
Flying int Nampula.
The official language in Mozambique is Portuguese. In the North, however, it is a challenge to find someone who speaks English. Add to that the local language, Mecua, and things start to get confusing, so I’m very grateful for my driver who also serves as my translator. There seems to be two expressions that I hear often and that are particularly expressive of the African mind set. First, despite hardships we can’t imagine, everyone says “esta bom” –“it’s good”, and then there is an exchange and sharing of woes, each person taking turns to express deep empathy with “é pá!” “Ah shame!” And in these parts of Mozambique a white person is called “mekunya”.
Siesta is a long-time custom in this area. Everyday, from 12 to 2 p.m. most of the city shuts down, people go home for lunch and a rest, and the dust has a chance to settle down with the mid-day heat. As the city grows and develops, this strict schedule has become more flexible. Government and municipal offices are now open during the siesta hours due to problems with officials not returning from lunch. But go into any government office and you’ll find everyone is sitting at their desk, eating lunch, and not available for work.
Outside the city is an entire province of untouched wilderness to be explored and adventures to be discovered. You can choose any road out of town and find yourself discovering somewhere completely different and incredibly magnificent. The countryside all around is a tropical contrast of luminous shades of green and rich red earth.
This past weekend we traveled west to the country of Malawi and hiked in the beautiful Zomba Plateau, which provided some good exercise and training for my upcoming Kilimanjaro climb.
Driving to one of the villages outside of Nampula.
This evening I will be flying to Pemba, a city on the coast further north and close to the Tanzanian border. I will spend a week there before leaving for Kilimanjaro on Sunday. After the mountain climb (providing I survive), it is possible I will be returning to Maputo for another two weeks. This was not part of the original plan and I explained to my project manager that I really needed to get back home and start making money. But it seems I am desperately needed because there is a shortage of volunteers, and so a “compensation package” is in the works! I guess I’ll find out sometime this week what is going to happen. It will definitely interfere with my other travel plans (Peru), but it’s difficult to turn my back on any opportunity to help the less fortunate.
Typical street in Nampula.
I’m going to try to upload some pictures, but the internet is not fast and so I probably won’t labor too long with that! J