Sunday, August 12, 2012

Going Home

The final stretch to get home to Mozambique seems to have faded into the distant past, what with the busyness of settling back in and all. And there's a lot more to settling in than just unpacking your suitcase and making your bed so you can sleep in it again. Those activities are on your own to-do list, but you forget that there are other to-do lists floating around out there with your name on them as well.

But back to the trip home and photos of the event (since I always take photos along the way). There's always something interesting in store on these trips.

First there was the packing--no small feat since we were hauling all our luggage plus a car-full of tents and a car-full of training materials (see previous post).

By the time we were done, there was no room to even sneeze at. Ask Tony and Leila who we picked up in Maputo along the way and who had to pile their (thankfully small amount of) luggage between them on the back seat!

The border crossing went smoothly but we had to navigate Maputo yet before heading north. It felt good to be back in Africa again and it was a good chance to take pictures of our old home for our kids who are back in Canada.

Maputo's population has exploded over the last 18 or so years since the end of the civil war when we first moved there, and the volume of traffic in the streets has far outstripped the city's ability to cope with it. Think of it as a bumper car ride, hopefully with no bumps. But that depends on how good a driver you are in cramped spaces.

After about 12 hours on the road, we stopped at our "hotel" called "The Honey Pot". the rooms are quaint little wood cabins with only screens covering the windows and huge mosquito nets hanging over the beds. They were self-catering places so certainly had everything we needed.

That back really was packed right up to the ceiling and as far back as the window where a yellow University of Alberta book bag sits prominently pressed against the glass.

The trip home is a 2 day affair, with the "soft" part of the trip being the first day. On day 2, you hit more of the realities of remote travel in Mozambique where the pit stops have little to offer. Even this is better than it used to be though.

One of our pit stops is near the Vilanculos turn off. There's a small convenience store that sells warm drinks from a fridge and chocolate bars that I fear only move when we come through. But we're just happy to see something available. 

It also offers bathrooms for a small fee which is paid to an attendant. But you won't be offered toilet paper, this you need to request. Soap and hand towels are scarce at times, so you may want to bring your own. 

Price list: "Banho" (Bath)--Mt 30 (just over $1)
"Normal" (All other uses, I guess)--Mt 10 ($0.33)

Here's a sneak preview of the facility. There's no running water, not uncommon at all, hence the big red plastic container for water and the bucket for taking it wherever it needs to go.

"Banho" facility.

 Unfortunately there was no water in the red plastic container either. It must be tough trying to run a business like this when there's a hiccup in your hydro supply.

 Along a nice spot of highway, we came across a long line of dump trucks. About 20 in all, end to end, brand new. They reminded me of the story "Go Dog Go" by P.D. Eastman. "Where are these trucks all going?" we wondered. We could only guess that they were headed for the mines in Tete (north of us).

Typical town along the way. The big trees are Baobabs.

Here a boy sells pods from a Baobab tree. Cream of tartar is harvested from these pods.

I often comment on this pit stop because we almost always see no one here except the fuel station attendant. The building isn't terribly old and is actually quite nice, but it's vacant. The large display windows have only empty rooms to display. There's often no water here. There's no electricity either, so in order to pump fuel they have to fire up a little generator and clamp its cables to their electrical box.

 And then you wait. It's usually a quick stop being that there's no chocolate to choose from.

Following a "chapa" (local taxi) over some of the poorer stretches of road. It deteriorates to pot holes up ahead so keep your eyes peeled and hold your hats!

After over 12 hours of travel on day 2, we finally reached home sweet home. Our family isn't here but it's where our toothbrushes live. And that, as Royden says, is what makes it home :)

While I was still trying to unpack my toothbrush, however, seminar was on and calls were coming in to please see this and that sick person. On one of my stops, I met sweet 101 year old woman who has a sharp mind and quick wit. I asked her "What is the secret to living so long?" 

"Trust in God, and don't eat people." She replied. "I don't eat people."

Sounds like sage advice regardless of your context or just about any way you could interpret that!

And things just kept getting more and more interesting. Every day seems to hold some kind of adventure out here. (You can read more of my own latest adventures as I get them up, plus other updates, on

In case I haven't said it yet, it's GREAT being back home!

And Mushu agrees. 

But he's not so sure about the "home being where your toothbrush lives" part. He figures that so long as you have plenty of food and a soft bed, a toothbrush doesn't matter all that much.