Flashback to Julia’s trip: After we left Inharrime we headed back to Namaacha, and this journey is when Julia got to have her first true chapa experience. And an experience it certainly always is. We sat ourselves in the back two rows and waited for the chapa to fill up. I told Julia I recommended putting her headphones in and just finding a happy place somewhere far, far away for the next two hours. As the two rows in front of me started to fill up with six very “traditionally built” women, it crossed my mind that those last two people were very unlucky (rows seat four across, so each row was only missing one more person, though the leftover space couldn’t have been more than six inches across). When a woman who was both large and pregnant walked up, the whole chapa groaned. “Nuh uh, I can’t sit there” she said, looking at the spot and shaking her head. She tried to squeeze in anyway but with no success. Another man on the chapa called out “she’s too fat to fit in this spot, can anyone who is only medium-fat switch places with her?” I laughed in my head—who would ever actually volunteer themselves for that? The last lady to show up elicited another groan—though not pregnant, she was pretty large. After some unsuccessful attempts to get both of these ladies into the seats, it was decided that a man (bigger shoulders perhaps, but a smaller butt) would switch with one of them. As he settled into his new seat he kept grumbling about how tight it was. Another lady on a chapa yelled, “you think that’s suffering? Try having a baby! Now THAT is suffering! You’re having a tiny little taste of the pain we go through.” I translated all of this to Julia as it was happening so she could join me in chuckling (and truly appreciate being tucked neatly into the back row).
Once we got going the ride was fairly uneventful until one of the last uphills coming into Namaacha, which is up in the mountains. Our chapa had been struggling a little at this point and finally it came to a puttering stop on one of the steeper inclines. Well s***. It was nearing dark, otherwise I would have just jumped out and flagged down the next car to pass, but I prefer to do this only in broad daylight. So I crossed my fingers and luckily they got the car restarted after only a few minutes. I’m glad Julia’s first chapa experience wasn’t some halfhearted one!
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Sorry for the long hiatus, my life has been pretty crazy recently and it doesn’t seem like it will calm down anytime too soon! So backtracking a lot, back to Julia’s visit. She was flying from Virginia Beach, where she was working, up to NYC to catch her flight to Johannesburg. She had booked those two tickets separately since one was for work and the other for pleasure. She had also booked the Joburg-Maputo flight separately, since this often saves a few hundred dollars. So all was good, unless she missed one of the flights—then she would be screwed. The night she was to fly out of Virginia, hail storms in NYC had cancelled all incoming flights, so she rented a car and made the 8 hour drive into this storm to catch her flight to Johannesburg. The good news is that after this her travels went smoothly and on time, so she made her connection to Maputo. I met her afternoon flight (which arrived early, since when does that happen here?!) in Maputo and we went first to the craft market to wander around a bit. The next morning we left early to go up to Casa de Mar with Erin. We spent two beautiful days there, swimming (Julia is from Maine and shamed us into entering what she considered warm water), watching sunrises, playing Bananagrams, whale watching, and reading our books. After that idyllic time we went to Inharrime to visit the mission, so Julia could see where I spent my last two years and to meet the girls and people I had talked so much about. I brought Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat for the two girls who are my best English students. Their vocabulary is good enough that we were able to read the books together, though the girls decided it’s a really strange book and, I have to admit, it kind of is. The girls loved playing with and braiding Julia’s beautiful thick curly hair into all sorts of crazy hairdos. She let them play with her camera so a group of the larger girls had it for about an hour, during which they took a few hundred yearbook-like photos of girls posing under trees and in poses that belong on the cover of Cosmo. Each time I go back I am amazed by how much older the girls seem, especially the littlest one. Like Miralda, one of the little devils last year who I would always catch peeing behind buildings, eating things she shouldn’t be eating, and soiling her clothes She’s now a ringleader for the little ones and comes up to me to report who has peed in their pants and refused to change them. I got to show Julia around the town of Inharrime, where she bought about a million capulanas. Sitting on the Inharrime restaurant’s front porch Julia got to watch the buses stopping to pick people up and drop others off and the chaos that ensues as everyone runs to the windows to sell snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. A man came and sat on the porch and played a timbila, the traditional xylophone instrument and a large gathered to watch him, so for once we weren’t the biggest attraction!
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Back in Inharrime two weeks ago I gave one of my best English students (sitting and reading on my right) "Green Eggs and Ham," the first book I ever read. Her vocabulary is quite impressive, so we were able work through translating most of the book together.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
From Maputo to Jangamo to Inharrime to Namaacha to Maputo to Johannesburg to Cape Town, Julia and I had a wonderful time together during her trip! I am trying desperately to catch up on all the work and emails I have fallen behind on, but I will slowly and bit-by-bit update on Julia's trip,