Sunday, December 17, 2006

Smooth Sailing, At Least For Today

I write this paragraph as we drive south on Mozambique’s EN1 highway…the one highway that connects the capital, Maputo, in the south to the remainder of the country. We’ve made this trip many times, but today’s trip is different. Our maiden voyage along the EN1 in 1996 was tortuous. It seemed as if the 18 hour trip consisted mainly of negotiating our way through one huge pothole only to enter the next, and so on. Overgrown thorn bushes encroached on the crumbling asphalt reclaiming territory long lost. But where pot holes and scrubby thorn bushes ruled, there were few signs of human life. That was 10 years ago. Today, many sections along the EN1 are lined with patches of cleared land as people move in and plant crops of pineapple, cassava and spindly maize. The unruly bush has been cut back and subdued. The potholes are another story. They have stood the test of time and progress. Despite a number of road rehab projects funded by the nations of the world conspiring together to rid the EN1 of potholes forever…the potholes have managed to re-group and resurface time and time again. Today the EN1 is oddly different. As the result of yet another, apparently a bigger and better recent road-rehab effort, we have fairly smooth sailing (with painted lines to boot)! Apart from a handful of stubborn potholes that have successfully reclaimed their rightful piece of asphalt, the EN1 is currently 98% pothole free! Of course, the rainy season is yet to come. We’ll see who wins the next round.

The sun setting over Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. We made a 1 day quick trip there with Ed, Dorene and Jeremiah. It was a unique experience, the heat was intense, and this picture turned out even better than it looked to the naked eye I think! I love it.

Other news: (in point form to save time and the work of reading for you)

-Our dog, Mushu (NB: we didn’t name him), had tick fever (Biliary) just after Ed and Dorene’s arrival. He was so weak he couldn’t even turn himself over in his bed (read: this mommy had to turn him frequently and carry him places). I tried to treat him for the first few days in vain. Finally we took him to town and amazingly found a lab that ran tests (he’d rather I not detail them…he was not impressed). Equally amazing—he was diagnosed and the drug we needed was available so he got, yes, another poke. (Oops, that’s giving one of the tests away.) Point of interest about the drug: the only available form (in bulk—a powder for reconstitution) was a packet sufficient to inject 3000 kg’s worth cattle mind you! I think it took some fancy division efforts on the vet’s part to figure out how much to give a little 7 kg dog.

-After working themselves to a standstill for several weeks, Ed and Dorene’s return date summoned them home to cooler temperatures. We miss them already. Oh Dorene, another “squirrel” came to call after you left. May he rest in peace, tail intactJ. I guess he missed you too!

-Did I mention our Litchi harvest? Wow, here's a picture of just how wonderful it was. Around 5 tons were harvested altogether, 3 tons were of export quality. The company we sold to said our Litchis made up around 70% of Mozambique’s export market to Europe. Wow. We’re pretty proud. And wow, that’s not very many Mozambican Litchi’s on the world market! There are lots of farmers coming to us to buy seedlings but it will take several years before their trees can produce much.

-The local people have been asking me which days I’ll be working in the clinic. They say they need to see me because I “know stuff” J. Even though I haven’t had an official day doing work in the clinic yet with Ernesto, I’m approached on a regular basis by people with physical struggles. Some cases are baffling and some are straight forward. One of our staff, who may have had a mild stroke, was put on a sedative twice a day (for several months) and his complaint was that he was sleepy, stumbled often and was having weird dreams. I told him to drop the sedative, which he did, and he says he feels better already!

-Okay, end of point-form news items that were a long read anyway!

I had the below blurb ready to post awhile back but internet was down during our first few weeks back in the bush. I’ve decided to go ahead and post it now anyways.

November 22nd, 2006

…has seen many faces and lodged many people in the last 2 years, but it’s obvious the housewife has not been around! It was good to finally see our old home again, but the natural deterioration of things has made for a rough start. At a glance, the house itself looked fine, but housewives always see more than meets the average eye. At least that’s what my family tells me. The nooks and crannies, pantry shelves and many other places practically called out to me to relieve them of the dust, cobwebs and packages of obsolete items they’ve been holding for quite some time. Our attic is alive with a variety of energetic rodents, and my counter tops swarm with ants if I leave even just a crumb of bread behind. My flower beds on the other hand show signs of the struggle for survival against the long dry winter. The12v power source in our house also took strain during this time and the batteries have little reserve, so we’ve had a few candlelight dinners. And until we get our refrigeration up to speed I expect we’ll have warm water with those dinners L. The solar lights we brought back from Canada to place in our yard are definitely the brightest spots for miles around! On a more positive note, we know from past experience that re-entry to bush life is always bumpy, but in time it gets better. We only have a month and a half left before we move out of this house and hopefully into a finished guest cottage on the new mission farm. Many of this old house’s ills (mice, leaking taps, an ant invasion…) will simply have to be remedied by the new owners. If I can wait that long.

This is the day after our arrival home. I realized I couldn't unpack into the pantry until I had cleaned it out first. Here's a shot of that glorious moment!

Tomorrow we pick up guests in Beira (Ed, Doreen and Jeremiah) and I think we’re ready for them…sort of. We bought food yesterday and got a freezer working so at least we can feed them. There’s lots of work waiting for them so maybe they’ll be too busy to notice their slightly shabby surroundings! Ha, ha. Right.

Our pets were fine on our return having been taken VERY good care of. Mushu (the dog) seems happy enough to be back with us, but our cat, Ebony, is taking a bit of coaxing. She moved in with one of our Mozambican staff who’s living nearby and she’s in no hurry to give this young guy up for us. I guess we’ll have to beg, plead and bribe her back. Cats! That’s why they say cats have staff, not owners.

I guess this nutshell version brings things sort of up-to-date. When Dwight gets our generator up and running today we “get to” do laundry. Yes, when you take power out of the equation, certain things move out of the “have to” and into the “get to” realm. That’s probably true of most things in life.

Three girls sitting at the front in church listen to Ed preach. Looks like they're pretty intent on what he's saying! It's quite common for the women and kids to sit on the floor for meetings if there aren't enough places to sit. They don't seem to mind at all. I've tried it too, but I on the other hand, minded. Everything hurt after about half an hour, ankles, knees, back, even my wrists hurt from holding me up. Ouch! What was it the preacher spoke on that day??? I'll have to think long and hard about that one. But hey, I SURE remember the pain! What a pansy.

I guess I'll close with that. We'll be in South Africa over the next 3 or so days getting a ton of business done, then it's off to the bush again to celebrate a hot Christmas. TTYL.


Anonymous said...

Russell Says:

Ugh mom, please stop! I am getting homesick just reading this! No, I was glad for the nice looong update. Just when I thought it was the end, there was a new story. I can't wait until you guys have the internet all set up on the new farm and you have moved onto it. Then we can actually get frequent updates.

Wow, mom, where did you learn to take pictures? Now I know where I got my artsy side from. Please send me a high resolution picture of that first picture! It is awesome!

I will shut up and go. I think the reason you can't watch the videos on my blog has something to do with your browser. Get dad to download firefox, and use that to read my blog. You can google it to find it.


*Shuts up*

Wish we could be there for Christmas (I think I speak for Amanda too).

Amanda said...

I have to say: well written, mother. I think you should write a book one day...

Reading this felt like I was right back home, and initially when I looked up from reading and saw snow outside, I was alarmed.
Hope that guest cottage is done by the time you move over... I remember moving into the old house, just to live in the skeletons of...what was it, two bedrooms?
Miss you!

Eric & Pat said...

It was great to read the nice long update, you're lives are as busy as ever I see. Are you enjoying the heat Lynn? We're kind of enjoying the snow it's pretty & makes things look very Christmasy. We've had some pretty skookum snow storms at this end of the country the kids were out of power for two days & some place on the coast haven't had power for longer than that.I'm being very lazy this Christmas & not doing much decorating, not even putting a tree up(gasp). The kids won't be here & it's alot of extra work maybe once I've retired I'll get more into the Christmas spirit (you know when I have more time) Glad to hear Mushu is up & running again, dogs are great & make life so much more fun (& work. We're looking forward to the kids (yours) coming. Oh & btw Lynn I've been to see yet another specialist a neurosurgeon & he's sending me for an MRI as my CT scan shows quite a bit of degenerative arthritis in my neck. What next!! After New Year's mom & I are going to start up a blog as well it will be a joint that we'll both post on. Oh & GREAT SHOT on that sunset, will Royden ever be jealous!! Luv you

Rene said...

Hi Lynn, great to hear about the happenings on the farm, keep up the writing.

Amanda said...

Yes, I'm cleaning!!!! Or, was, and the house looked just about the best it ever has...mostly because we stashed all our junk in other, less seen, places. Then people came over for fondue, and....actually it's not as bad as I'd expected but there's definitely another small amount of cleaning that will have to happen when we get back =p
miss you