Last week I traveled up to Zambezia to coordinate a malaria prevention “training of trainers” with PCVs and their counterparts from eight districts across Zambezia. Check out http://stompoutmalaria-mozambique.tumblr.com/ to read about it and see pictures!
This trip was my first time north of Inhambane province. Pause for a second, find a world map and really appreciate how huge Mozambique is (twice the length of California, I’ve been told). And since teachers’ schedules are quite rigorous, teaching for 9 months of the year and controlling and grading exams while not teaching, and my school was fairly strict (not letting me leave during breaks like many of my PCV colleagues’ schools did), I haven’t had much time to travel around the country. I unfortunately didn’t have time to fit much other travel into this trip, but it was great to at least get a glimpse of other parts of Mozambique. One thing that struck me is that it wasn’t as Islamic as I had expected, having learned that in Mozambique the south is predominantly Christian and the north is predominantly Muslim. And maybe part of this is due to the fact that the south in fact has, in my opinion, a large Muslim presence (I can actually hear the call to prayer as I write this, and both Inharrime and Namaacha have large mosques), and Zambezia certainly wasn’t Muslim the way Senegal was. What I thought was the coolest were all the bike taxis everywhere. For shorter distances (within Quelimane city, for example), rather than the chapas that are ubiquitous in the south, there are hundreds of bike taxis everywhere, where passengers sit on a cushion on the back rack. It makes trying to cross the street as a pedestrian terrifying, but I loved the idea of everyone on bikes, rather than piling into the hunks of metal chapas we have down here.
And, the BIG DIPPER is visible from Zambezia! Apparently it’s close enough to equator that it’s visible. (Again, take another look at a map and appreciate how long Mozambique is).
I caught the night flight back to Maputo, and as we rode our bike taxis in the dark calm of early evening on the tree-lined road to the airport it was almost idyllic. Then three men rode by on a motorcycle (yep, three), with the driver drinking beer out of the bottle as he drove. And then, killing his bottle, he chucked it to the side, a few feet in front of my bike taxi, so we had to swerve to avoid the shattering glass. I just shook my head.