I’ve been spending some time with Oliver For some pre practice, before I start the main thing. Helping build a bathroom in my aunties house. Personally all I really wanted was the tool belt but apparently that has to be earnt. Like a black belt in karate. The day ended in wonky bricks and more motor on myself then where it was meant to be but hay practice makes perfect!!
After spending the last 6months in the bush, the ocean was calling my name and I decided to crash my family holiday to Mozambique. We set off for our two day trip at 5am, a car full of food and cigarettes to bribe officials. An essential I’ve found out in 3rd world Africa. Something ill have to adapt to if I go back to Aus. Sliding a cheeky note to get off from speeding fines won’t be taken as well. We stopped off at a BNB, travelling with 12 children caused for an imminent game of football and a few crushed toes. The water pump for the local area was just outside our rooms, a boy seeing the games being played decided to bring along his handmade ball and join in. Cheers from his friends as he played and some embarrassment as I stole the ball. Feeling like a champ and thankful for all the time my brother had forced me into 1 on 1 in our garden I headed to bed. We set off to our final destination in the morning. Feeling like I was part of a TopGear series as we dodged potholes and cleared sheets of dust off our window. Apparently, this was the main highway. Thankfully we were blessed with an hour of tar road before we hit the beach. Staying on the point we had a 30min drive across the beach, a novelty for me and I wound down the window sitting on the door enjoying the salt air, whilst being educated on low range and 4×4 driving. The beaches there were picture perfect. Turquoise oceans and white sands. Our days were full of snorkelling, gin and boat rides. Nights filled sending the children down the beach to catch the crabs. An honorary mention to Kim who looked like a deranged woman diving for the bouquet at a wedding, as she pushed children out of the way to catch the big daddy in her hands. I took a trip to the local market with my cousin and we spent many hours debating over the bags full of patterned material to revamp her home, with of course a taste of the foods, mainly delicious bread treats. Local fishermen sailed out in handmade boats, a block of polystyrene and a few pieces of wood on either side. Like every moment in this country, you can’t help but be humbled and astonished by the creativity and sometimes manic ways to survive. My brother always says simplicity is genius, and I think from the taped together material to make a football, to the man who put a plastic chair on top of a polly block to fish on. Mozambique definitely proved it.
( To the group of 29 that let me crash their trip, a million thankyous. I couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more!)
Its been a long week, but finally after many hard days I can say I have a road! Days started at 7. A short drive to the existing road ended and ours started, followed by shoes thrown off and trousers hitched up. As we received our cold morning wake up call, crossing the river. I crossed alone one day and surprisingly the men told me off. Don’t cross alone Ngwenya they said, meaning crocodile. Depending on the rains the water would go up to our thighs and on the worst days hip level. I went with a gang of 7, local people who would pick up the water and smell for fish I didn’t know if this was to see if they could drink or a way of telling if the Ngwenya would be lurking. Tree chopping started directly after the river crossing. And never before have I worked so hard! With a hoe and an axe we began. The men cutting down most of the trees and women thankfully filling the holes and trenches. There wasn’t much talking the first day and if they spoke to referred to me as Madam, I put that to an end quickly having them all repeat da-nee a few times. Thankfully I went with Tilda who could speak English and it wasn’t long until we were all semi communicating. Mainly laughing at my attempts to repeat words and ushering me back to spots id missed whilst filling holes. I made the terrible mistake of trying to impress the first day and couldn’t quite keep it up. Slow and steady definitely wins the race. The first tree I chopped was entertainment for the group, they all stopped to watch my 20 something swings to pull the thing out of the ground. And I defiantly wanted to sit down for a 7hr break after doing it! We would walk and chop continuously and turn around for the hour ½ walk back around 2. I tell you, the car never looked so glorious before sat on the other side of the river waiting to take us home. We didn’t have breaks but thankfully the men would collect sugar cane from the villager’s fields for a re-boost. I had to receive lessons on how to eat it and how to properly, but I was a lot better at that then the tree removal. On the fourth to last day, I walked to the school with Taweh and Kiso trying to gage how many more days of blistered hands I had left. Halfway through our walk, the rains came! And didn’t finish until the last day. Some days it wasn’t so bad, the air was still warm and a quick excuse to duck under a tree came in handy. The last day had to be my favourite, hard rains and cold winds started about an hour away from the school. The team wanted to carry on as I suggested we should return. We were all soaked, one of the men gave me his jacket as I shivered down the road. Slightly miserable but close to completion I was still able to pull my only joke shouting Ngwenya (crocodile) every time someone walked through a large puddle. I think they regretted teaching me the word. We arrived at the school and by some miracle, the builder was sat in a small hut making a fire. All of us quickly huddled around, Tilda took her jacket off and without talking the guys grabbed corners and held it over the fire. The builder started cooking Sudza (sort of thick mash made out of corn) and Mopani worms. They showed me how to cook the dish and offered me a worm, I couldn’t really refuse and was given my second lesson how to eat the thing! Off with its head and their faces were full of delight as they watched my face screw up as the insect tickled its way down my throat. I was proud of the work on the road, impressed with what it meant but the achievement didn’t compare to the simplicity of being huddled around a fire with the gang, who I’d like to call friends now. It had to be one of the simplest moments I have ever experienced. Food shared with people who don’t have a lot to share, all looking out for one another. Checking each other’s jackets were dry, one of the girls taking my hat and holding it above the flames for me. I learnt communication goes far beyond words, a smile, being pointed at half a brick to sit on and share, the boys pointed at thorns and prickles before I walked over them. Compassion and love truly are wherever you look for them.
The rains have caused for delays on starting to build a road to access the school. So in the mean time I have been playing lifeguard to the baby butternuts! Coming from a big city there’s no better feeling than mud in between your toes and watching having the opportunity to watch little veggies grow! So magical and I didn’t think I would find it as enjoyable as I am checking them daily and watching their progress. I suggest you all turn your fingers green and your toes brown and head into the garden!