Sunday, June 26, 2011

Inquiring minds want to know

I dropped the ball in my June 10th post by neglecting to state the final outcome of how many people the  truck could transport during the president's visit. I'm sure many people don't particularly care, but judging from comments left on this blog and even one Facebook status, some do. To those of you feeling left in the dark, my humblest apologies. Here is the answer:

The number of people the truck can transport is 60. 70 in a push.

Those who attended the president's visit say things went well. There were even socorristas to provide first aid back up to the crowd of attendees. Here is Celestino (left), one of the mission's socorristas, along with our truck driver (right, with a picture of President Guebuza in his hand).

Now that I feel I have a bit more closure on that post, let's move on :)

Dwight and I are traveling right now, once again. First, we took a wonderful week-long break at the coast. It was low season, so for the most part it was quiet and the beaches were empty.

But there were some curious tracks in the sand and animals around.

There were a gazillion or so of these small bluebottles washed up on the shore. You had to watch where you stepped!

This Lilac-breasted Roller came to perch on a branch just down from our place every day. He sat very patiently and turned his head first this way, then that, while I fiddled with my aperture, f-stop, zoom, and other camera settings trying to get a good shot. His feathers are a bit wind blown here because there was a gusty wind blowing that day. Sometimes I have the same problem :)

There was a huge population of ghekos, as per usual in Africa. Here's some (there were more) of the hunting posse on the front wall.


Ah yes, and then there were the crows.  They would hover over the places waiting to loot and pillage anything left attended outside for more than a few minutes.
Digging through the neighbor's "tasty" refuse.

Tell-tale tracks (crows' feet) around our place would show up every time we were out of view. Inquiring minds, I'd say.

Here's a cute little guy wondering what tasty morsel this could be on our veranda. (Placed purposefully to entice him.)

We thought he may eat it right there beside us, but no. He grabbed it and flew away.

And last but not least was this little Jack Russell (Miro) who befriended us. In this shot he's under our table looking up VERY expectantly at Dwight.

And one last beach shot: sunrise over the Indian Ocean.

We're now in South Africa getting business done. There will be the prescribed 101 stops for vehicle/sheep/construction/aviation/woodworking/office supplies to source/pick-up/sharpen/order/purchase.

And for those keen minds out there that keep track of numbers...101 may be a slight exaggeration. My apologies.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Monkeys in the tree

I love weekend mornings. They're slower paced, quiet, and I usually have time to sit on the veranda with my cup of coffee. Sometimes we even get a bit of wildlife entertainment.

This past Sunday, while sipping our morning coffee, a troop of monkeys descended into the trees at the bottom of our yard. They scampered from branch to branch, from branch to ground, and from ground back up to branch again. What fun they were having (all the while keeping a watchful eye on us)! Can you see 4 of the monkeys below? (Hint, only 2 of their faces show in the picture.)

They don't spend a lot of time close to the houses but sometimes they come to see what there is to eat.

And to have a good long stare at us.

Quick glance away...

Then we're back again. Full attention.

Later that day we went to the "old farm" where we first lived when we first moved here. This little building (below) was our first ever bathroom with running water. It was quite the celebration when it was finally complete because up until then, we had only bucket bathed and used a spider-ridden outhouse.

This area (full of leaves in the picture above) was our camp kitchen, dining room, laundry room, school room, kitchen, and clinic. We even celebrated our first bush-Christmas on this floor. This area used to be covered with a grass roof but it didn't have those nice brick walls back then. The walls were made of grass which allowed every living thing, including bugs and snakes, to come or go at will. That was some fun! Or at least our kids thought so. Every day was a new adventure.

And these initials carved in the trees prove that monkeys weren't the only ones to romp here.

Like most walks down memory lane, it was very nice to see and remember but we're glad those days of "adventure" are behind us!

On our way home we stopped to check out the good progress on the training center.

It's looking so beautiful!

Anyway, let me sign off for now. This post is early because we leave to take a bit of a break from it all tomorrow and I probably won't be posting again for a week or so. Unless there's some compelling reason to do so.

And more monkeys in trees will most likely not rate :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

In a flap

Apparently the country’s president is coming to the area for a visit next week, so this part of the world is all in a flap. Heads of departments rushing here and there organizing details, calling meetings, briefing underlings on protocol, and so on. I was thinking today that the mess and disarray left in the wake of a celebration is but a shadow of chaos that took place to organize it in the first place. But then, it’s not every day the president pays a visit.

Yesterday, one of the socorristas (health workers) was gone half the day to attend a briefing related to the visit. This morning, our devotional time was followed by an animated discussion about how many people the truck could haul (this in response to a special request to transport people for the event). One guy piped up with, “Nearly 200 people can fit on the back of the truck. Over 150, that’s for sure.” Another guy said, “I think about 50. Well, maybe 100.” No one seemed to know for sure, so it was decided that a trial load should be done with all the staff present so we could come up with a more definite number.

At that, everyone headed over to the truck and a “trial pack” was done.

All I had to take a photo with at the time was my Nokia—hence the lousy photo quality. After a fair bit of scootching and foot shuffling, we had a clearer idea of how many people would fit.

So the plan is that those going will head out on Sunday, stay overnight closer to the town receiving the visit, then be there early Monday morning. Yep, quite the kerfluff.

Since I didn’t make it to the school clinic last week, I decided to pop over yesterday while I had a chance and get a few things done.

For one thing, the windows desperately need curtains. But before you can hang curtains, you need to measure the windows. There were other tasks to attend to as well, but amid the other tasks, we got the windows measured and did up a “shopping list” of still-needed items. Some of the supplies are available right there in the bush, like wooden sticks to hang the curtains from. Someone just has to go out, measure some branches, chop them down, lay them out to dry for a few weeks, sand them smooth, and voila. It’s just that easy ☺

Windows without curtains are wonderful to look through, and so, our every movement inside is watched with intense curiosity.

Cute much of the time but not so nice for privacy for the patients!

On the way home, the late afternoon sky was wonderful! I couldn’t help taking a few shots.

I LOVE it when the African sky gets smudgy.

A few shots of other excitement around here:

“No littering please.”

I think we’re the first place nationwide that offers a public trash can. And one that keeps the rain out and that you just tip a bit to empty. How ingenious. (Thanks, Andy)

“Welding Hour”

Because the welder draws quite a bit of electricity from our diesel generator, some of the other breakers have to go off while it’s at work welding ox carts and bicycles. One of the things that goes off is our internet. As you can imagine, everyone knows (or soon discovers) when welding hour is. We definitely need our maintenance/work shop!

This morning there were two boys in staff meeting. They didn’t stay long since they had just come by to pick up study books that Dwight picked up in town the other day. They were very pleased to get them. They want the books. They like books. They like school. Imagine that!

And with that, I better run along. Someone’s at the door…something to do with the president’s visit. Like I said, this part of the world is all in a flap right now.

Saturday, June 04, 2011


There's a saying here, "Pouco-pouco vai longe". Its English equivalent would be, "Slow and steady wins the race". That saying is used a lot here because speed is a luxury we simply often don't have in the developing world. Speed, one can generally live without. Persistence, on the other hand, is essential. Because without persistence, you have nothing.

These were the thoughts going around in my mind yesterday as I watched the backhoe at work. Let me state at the outset that work with the backhoe has far outpaced moving soil a shovelful at a time, which is the way we were doing it before!

This is how it used to go. A group of guys, each with a shovel in hand, would loosen dirt then swing it a shovel full at a time up onto the truck. The soil would then be driven to the training center site where it would be unloaded in like shovel full at a time. It was a bit like ants moving a bowlful of sugar one grain at a time. Not ideal, but you can get the job done if you keep at it.

With the backhoe, things are moving much quicker. Even if not "speedy" by some standards.

Imagine the work and time the backhoe saves here.

Dumping the load of dirt.

Returning for more soil.
(The "sugar bowl" empties a lot quicker when you have a scoop!)

Here, the guys spread the dirt as it gets dumped.
The goal is to fill with dirt to the floor line (at the bottom of the doors).

Future classroom currently being used to store roof tiles.

With more roof tiles up, and plastering in place, it looks more like a "real" building.

Sometimes though, we're happy if something goes slowly here. Like the speed with which a Puff Adder moves toward you. They're poisonous, and there are plenty of them, so it's good that they're not a fast snake. It would be nice if they moved out of the way a bit quicker, but then, you can't have it both ways :)

A puff adder that was found on the road leading to the airstrip.

Dwight discovered him just minutes before Mushu (our little dog) and I came waltzing happily along.

In strike pose.
(Photo credit for Puff Adder photos: Paul Middleton of Mercy Air)
They may not move fast but they do strike fast. But first, they huff and puff in warning (hence the name).

I mentioned in a previous post that there have been a lot of snake tracks around here of late.
This is on the airstrip. It was only one of about 6 snake tracks I saw.

A bit more news:

Francisco and Mateus stopped by the mission the other day. They both receive sponsorship so they can stay in school. Here, Mateus (who is blind) reads a note from his sponsor done in Portuguese AND in braille. He was very pleased!

It was such a busy week I didn't get to go see my friend Robert for dressing changes. But the health workers say he's doing well. "He even brings the grass mat out himself now for us to sit on for dressing changes. Usually a family member would bring it out for him." He's been getting home visits for about 3 weeks now and soon won't need them anymore. Slow and steady wins the race.

Mushu agrees.
Slow and steady. And how about a bit of soft too, please?

Happy weekend everyone.