When we were kids and walking along a sidewalk, one of us would invariably pipe up with, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back; step on a nail, put your father in jail." At this, we would adjust our stride and nimbly step over any pavement cracks or nail heads in boardwalks, all the while keeping a beady eye on the steps of others lest they slip up. If you did accidentally step on a crack, a chorus would rise, "Aha! You broke your mother's back!" or "You put your father in jail!" It was fierce but fun competition, and anyway, we were looking out for our parents' welfare! Thankfully, even though I probably slipped up many times in the game, neither calamity came upon my parents :-)
The cracked pavement above, which I think is actually quite pretty, is one of many on the veranda floor of the getaway beach spot we are at for just over a week. We have been coming here once a year for about 10 years, and each visit is unique in itself. One year, we arrived to discover that the wind had eroded the sand to the point where several thatched installations had collapsed and their reconstruction in a new location was underway. Another year, it was so stiflingly hot we could hardly bear the heat. The next year it was so unseasonably cold and windy we could hardly enjoy the hammocks on the veranda. Then there were the years where we had to deal with rat infestations, and the year where an arsonist almost burned the entire place to the ground. Yes, there are many stories to be told!
I wish I could say that this year's story is just about sand erosion, rats, or the weather. But it's not. This year's uniqueness has to do with recent political turmoil that has disrupted life in some way for just about everyone living in Mozambique. There have been many repercussions for us too. One of these was that we needed to take an alternate route south for this trip rather than take the in-country main highway where the military convoy has been the target of recent attacks.
We took the convoy less than 2 months ago while on a business trip to South Africa. It was safe then, but things have since deteriorated and shootings and attacks are common. So we made the decision to get to our southern Mozambican destination via our neighbouring countries Zimbabwe and South Africa. Talk about taking the long way though. It was a 3 day trip as opposed to a 9 or 10 hour drive.
It has been a long time since we have been to Zimbabwe, and after paying $75/person for single entry visas, not counting other border costs, it's no wonder. There are now also several toll charges of USD $1 each to drive the main road south.
After our long, drawn out trip, we were weary and very happy to arrive at our destination! As I write this, we are concerned for Mozambique and her people. After 20 years of peace and development, the country has recently been plagued with hot spots of civil unrest, fighting, and increasing violent crime. There is a serious breakdown in communication and goodwill between the ruling and opposition parties, and much like our childhood's crack in the pavement, it is bringing calamity and pain to people. The country, especially youth, agonizes over events as they unfold. Just when things were going so well! Municipal elections are being held in less than 2 weeks and this does little to ease tensions, of course. We are keeping abreast as possible of the situation and so far in our area, things have been quiet and life goes on as usual. We do trust that once elections are over, things will settle for everyone and that this December will be one in tune with the season--that of renewed peace and hope.
Otherwise, for me, life has been a blur with the busyness of things. A key staff member left to pursue his career further north recently and it landed a heap of student photo taking and data collecting in my lap. I am training one of the health workers to take on most of this, but first he has to learn to type. So yes, there is much learning to be done yet! All in all, about 400 records needed to be updated (current student info, photo, and letter), but we have now completed that so we are rejoicing. I am so thankful for the enthusiasm of all those who work alongside us.
This is what my desk and life have been occupied with primarily for the last few months. Reading the students' letters to their sponsors has been heart warming though.I love the attention and detail they put into their artwork...what a great avenue for creativity and expression it is. Like the mirror of one's heart.
"Me taking pictures of students taking pictures of me." Fair's fair.
For now though, let me sign off. There is a break I must enjoy :)
Take care, and keep Mozambique in your thoughts and prayers.