Monday, 23 June 2014

. . . and finally.

And so our story comes to an end - as I write this, Elliot, Ross, Sarah, Jacob and Mikaela are in Nampula Airport, about to board a plane home.
We are all very proud of what has been achieved in the last month - this has been an amazing experience.
We dedicate this blog to the Macuan people of Mossuril and the surrounding district, who warmly welcomed us into their community . . . and to Mozambique - what a place you turned out to be.

Maybe - to be continued . . . .

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The Cinematic End

Sarah says…

As the final days of our adventure began, we wanted to get everything completed that we set out to do- and we have done just that and feel a huge sense of achievement amongst ourselves. The festival programmes have been finalised and so we began with the rest of the tasks.

Firstly, it was only right that Sunsetti had it’s own mural- the bright orange and yellow butterfly looks great on the lightly coloured walls of the hotel, and is hugely admired by all of the staff. A mini butterfly has also been painted on the back of the building, where a new main road is currently being formed. Great advertising for the festival at all angles! Today, I finished off this little mural and had 5 very young boys watch me. I think they were asking what I was doing, but they just giggled when I told them so probably not! Thank goodness I wasn’t there for long- I couldn’t tell their innocent faces to stop painting the wall with dirty paint water!

Two huge banners have also been painted to hang in the various venues- not as easy as painting onto walls but they will definitely be noticed from a distance. With this, we got to work a little more on some typography as that was almost the main focus. We had help from the local boys on one of the sheets- it was great how quickly they adapt to communicating with us when working on something creative- the language barrier just didn’t matter. However, we did notice that a can of green spray paint had gone walkabout- and so on our next venture into town, we noticed Igor had sprayed his name on EVERYTHING…including his house. Not quite what we intended! Despite this little mishap, I absolutely love their contributions to the work we create, as it gives it a form of character that’s really special.

I am writing this on our last day at Sunsetti, and so this morning was a ‘get up and go’ as we were finally getting to paint the long awaited cinema. We were all pretty excited to have this on our last day, because it has almost been building up for the whole trip, a big job! Jacob, Ross and Elliott went this morning to draw out the design- a series of multicoloured butterflies spanning half of the wall. Meanwhile, Mikaela and I worked towards the festival stands which I will come to shortly. After lunch, the five of us headed up the long sandy track for the last time, only hearing a couple of ‘Akunhas!’. It didn’t take us long to add the colour to the wall, and it was almost sad when we had finished that it was our last mural. But so happy with how it looked, we had to take a selfie…

Finally, the festival stands have been completed. The bamboo constructions were created a week ago, but it was only late last night and today that we got to weave through the capulanas to decorate them. I hope I get the chance to buy some capulanas on the way home, they are the most beautiful materials I’ve ever seen- so vibrant and detailed. This morning once these were finished off, Mikaela sewed the ends together and we both went on a hunt for sticks strong enough to hold the six contructions together. When we returned from painting the cinema, Lisa, Waes and Thomas had built everything together and made a roof, which looks fantastic! It amazes me how they made it in the time we were gone.
With our work complete, we have been able to reflect on everything else we have contributed to in our time here, and feel very proud of ourselves and each other. We have had the opportunity to make our mark on Mossuril along with helping Alex, Lisa and everyone else involved by using our skills as designers- and we would also like to thank everyone again for giving us this chance. I certainly would love to return one day- and make sure the butterflies are still intact!

Moz Moments ....

Head Banging to Coral Lodge

Departing the wedding and after we parted the sea of onlookers we made the bumpy journey onwards to Coral Lodge with Jacob and Waes shortly behind us on the motorbike, arriving at the Carrusca Beach) We had made good time and made it with 10 minutes to spare from our original rendezvous time, however like many things here in Mozambique the couple picking us up where late but we only discovered this once Lisa got a phone signal and picked up the text messages.
After waiting an additional hour we got picked up with us all plowing into a jeep, (as the road upto coral lodge was to awkward for our smaller jeep) with myself (Elliott) and Jacob volunteering to sit in the boot with Momade and Waes which was an interesting experience considering we shared to boot with leaking patrol canisters. But the journey for us was very much enjoyed bouncing around with an open boot laughing and joking at Waes’s expense falling all over the shop and banging his head.

After 20 minutes of heading banging and hanging on for dear life we arrived at a lite wooden walk way with no other lights in sight we followed the manager at which point all you could see was the stars above us which where so clear and vibrant in colour, twinkling in the night sky. And out of know where a sea of lights where visible, being the main complex of the lodge with a few short steps taking us from Mozambique out back, to 5 star luxury. 

We where very generously looked after by the husband and wife managers, with complimentary drinks and freshly toasted cashew nuts, and sweet potatoe chips before being offered a tour of the estate which we all jumped at the chance even though dark and we couldn’t see either the lagoon or beach was very surreal even though critiqued for its price but wandering around you felt you where somewhere very special, with rooms over looking both the lagoon and beach. It felt so wrong as comparing the luxury of the lodge to the people of Mossuril it seemed to be polarized worlds apart but live side by side so closely yet have no connect 

We departed the luxury of the Coral lodge and made our way back to the familiar surrounding of Sunset with me and Jacob electing even though there was room in the main part of the car, to sit in the boot again with Waes and Momade and have another bumpy but very entertaining journey back to the beach Carrusca to collect the car and go forward on our travels.      

Talcal's Wedding

As we arrived at the wedding we were already an hour late. Macua weddings do not have a traditional ceremony like the ones we are used to however, so we had not missed much. Not long after stepping out of the car we were surrounded by curious children. Some looked like they were wearing their finest clothes, whilst other little kids had the same dirty and torn clothes they wear from day to day. It soon became clear that we were the main entertainment at the wedding, for children and adults alike.

We've had torrential rain at night but not a drop in the daytime. Dark clouds had been threatening us for a while as we sat there waiting, and as the first drops started to fall we were ushered inside a mud hut. We've acclimatised to the weather here and thus when the rain hit and hid the sun behind clouds we had to pull out our jumpers, although the temperature was still above 25 degrees.

The family hosting the wedding is very poor and most wedding guests would usually sit on mats on the ground, but we were seated at a table. At request we had with us our own plates, cups and cutlery. Lisa had warned us about the huge portions served at weddings, so I was relieved when the portion was the size of Arthur's Seat rather than Mount Everest. We were served Matapa (a traditional Macua dish) with beans, rice and green tomatoes on the side. After plowing through most of the mountain of food we went outside to watch a dance group perform. The dancers all wore the same capulanas as they danced to the beat of the drums. For a short time Talcal and his new wife joined the audience, and the dancers sang a song especially for them. It seems we were important enough to have a song too, since they sang about Akunhas at one point.

The dancing can continue for hours, and after a good while of watching the performance (and being watched by hundreds of beautiful eyes) we headed back to the car, followed by a big entourage of wedding guests who found our presence more entertaining than the dancing. As we crammed into the jeep and drove off they stared at us in wonder and waved. Is this not the kind of farewells that royals get?

I feel very lucky to have had the chance to experience a Macua wedding. It gave us a chance to learn more about their culture and to interact with the local people. The children take very good care of each other, and it's not uncommon to see an eight-year-old girl or boy carry their baby brother or sister wrapped around them with capulanas. They are openly affectionate and it's very heart warming. There is a lot that we can learn from the Macua people.

Journey To The Wedding: Biking Waes-ly

As the car was packed to the brim of (rather late) wedding guests, Waes and myself were to take the bike. We had been along the road before, and thought I knew what I was in for with regards to our small journey; a right out of Sunseti and up out of Mossuril, along the orange strip of bumps, jumps and onto the ‘main road’. On a bike, I thought, as Waes revved feverishly, it could be no different to that of being in a car. Then we set off, taking a sharp left.

I had never ventured left, over the small sand hill that the Chapa tilts over nightly. We sped out of the car park confidently, leapt up over this sandy hill and landed into the deep sand, bogged down. Stopping dead, we slowly started to lean to the left as the engine, sensing trouble, stalled. We both found this hilarious, and within a second had sped on, the road in front of us drastically reducing in width; scattered chaotically with chickens, people, sand banks and buckets. Yet, before my eyes could span the approaching area, Waes darted the bike left again and our road became a narrow path. The path soon turned into a slither of sand, with trees and bushes alike slapping my legs and arms as we whizzed, slipped and drifted around this African maze.

Fleeting scenes to the left and right had me transfixed with the momentary lives that I was witnessing as we sped past. A family sitting talking, a woman picking up her child, a man taking a bag of some food to his neighbor, I could watch forever at such a vibrantly cultural slideshow. I turned my attention forward. Waes was gone. Glancing down I could see he had pressed his face nearly to the handlebars, peering forward. I looked up. An overhanging rooftop was looming at me at an incredible speed, our path making an obvious detour through a small cluster of mudhuts. I dived my head downwards and heard, more than felt, the roof fly over. We both found this hilarious.

We ducked and glided our speedy way through the back road with a casual carelessness that made the whole thing enjoyable, rather than terrifying. Soon we reached a large bright orange road, familiar territory. I guessed we were to run into the others here, yet there was no sign; just people getting on with walking endless kilometers to school, work and everything else really. Speeding on, glancing only briefly back (the bike swerved comically every time we did so), we passed even more scenes of everyday life. Weise pointed excitedly as we passed a huge felled tree being made beautifully into a boat, the bike swerved manically as we got a good look but refused to reduce our speed to do so.

Every person we passed had the biggest smile, waving and shouting at us like we were a parade. It’s truly heartwarming, as there’s no malice to be found in their enthusiasm to shout and wave at you as you whizz past. Before long the calls of “Akunha!” were so frequent, both Waes and me began to shout it aloud, finding the whole thing utterly hilarious. It gladly muffled the ‘oofs!’ and ‘aahs!’ as we hit holes in the road, yet Waes had a keen eye for dodging them. If we were back in Europe, I would feel incredibly unsafe. Yet, as we sped happily along, I felt nothing but freedom and enjoyment. Soon enough we got to the small junction that led up to the wedding, and we sat on the bike discussing Sunseti whilst watching a small group of kids play football. The small group then became a big group, a large group and before long I was looking around at the apparently empty surroundings wondering where all these people had been? The car came round the distant corner, and we headed up towards the wedding, slipping slightly and finding the whole thing.. hilarious. 

Ross says...

Mora has learned now that our room door is open at night. So now she quietly opens the door, has a look about and then leaves. I witnessed her do that the entire night. She even stared at me blankly for a minute or so and then descended back into the darkness. Sleeping at night always has it's little moments. We have Bush babies screaming and running across the roof, tropical rain every so often and just Mora, watching us sleep. It certainly beats drunk students at 3am, staggering down Morningside Road. I feel accustomed to these little moments at night and will feel weird being back home. Even just the sound of cars driving by, will blow my mind.

To start our Friday morning, me and Lisa took a trip to the hospital (don't worry mum and dad, nothing serious). The queue just to see a nurse, was big and after waiting about half an hour, Lisa decided to go hunting for a free doctor. Once we found one, we were taken to his office, where he had a look at my ear and prescribed me some anti biotics. It got me thinking how I sat in a very similar office in Scotland and was told about all the horrible, scary things that may happen to me, when I am in Africa. But so far, I have felt safer here than anywhere else. Everyone here is so nice and cheerful (Thats a rarity in Edinburgh). Some people here have nothing, yet they will still say good morning and give you a big smile, as they go on their way. In Edinburgh, just making eye contact with someone, makes you jump to conclusions or feel offended (or think they fancy you). I always feel that my perception of Africa was so naïve and misled. I get the feeling that even a lot of doctors back home, over dramatised Africa, to the point it scares anyone to even visit the place. A night out in Glasgow is more dangerous than going to Mozambique, yet people are more willing to do that. The initial reaction people gave me, when I told them about Mozambique was, 'Ooh I couldnt do that, it sounds too dangerous'...
Coming here has definitely made me want to travel more and actually see the world, especially Africa. It's such a cliché to say that 'travel broadens the mind' but it's so true. It just makes you realise how blissfully ignorant your life can be.

So after I pondered this realisation, we picked up my pills from the pharmacy (which only came to 5 meticais, which is pennys) and headed back to Sunsetti.