Saturday, October 14, 2006

The gnarly bus trip to Bela Vista

As would happen in Mozambique, there would be some reason why I won't make it to the end destination without some form of barrier. I was supposed to leave on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 11, but of course, the translator/moderator was also having transportation problems of getting around town and catching buses on time. So, there is was 3:00pm - still in my apartment, we weren't going to make the ferry to catch the 3:00pm bus on the other side.

Then the morning after, we planned to make the 9:00am bus on the other side at Catembe so the translator said that he would meet me at 7:30 in front of the cinema. Once again, like Mozambican time, his arrival was naturally later than the time set (it was the traffic, obviously) and I waited until 8:15 to hear a text message that he was waiting outside. So off we went to try to catch another chapa called A vodador in front of Mundo's restaurant because it was only going to cost 5 MTZ to get to the ferry docks instead of 100,000 MTZ by cab. We get to the docks in 30 minutes (usually 5 minutes via taxicab) and off we went on the ferry to the other side. Of course, the reservation that we made on the bus was no longer valid and the bus was packed full of people heading to Bela Vista. And of course instead of leaving at the usual 8:30-9am departure time, we left at 9:30am. The translator explained to me that they do this in order to pack the bus and make more money from the number of passengers.

Well, if the late departure time wasn't the issue, it was the fact that the bus broke down 3 times before reaching Bela Vista within 3 hours. The trip usually take just under 2 hours. So there we were, sweaty in the packed bus eating only salty crackers and lichee juice boxes and stuck on an unpaved bumpy road to where I will stay for now 2 weeks.

Now that I have accepted the fact of this "African" time debacle, I have settled in to a place called Quinta Milla run by this woman called Amelita. The place lies in front of the beautiful setting of the Maputo River and has a lovely vegetable garden and two old dogs "guarding" or basking in the sun at the place. The room is simple with a double bed and sofa and running cold water from the shower, toilet and sink. I can ask for hot water as well which would come in a plastic bucket.

The translator invited me to meet his family and 3 year old girl and we had gazelle soup and some tomato based goat dish with tomato salad and rice. This seems to be the typical going meal here in Bela Vista.

As for my work, it seems to be going well. I have already interviewed the head of the Red Cross association in Matutuine district, some of the nurses at the Centre of Health of Matutuine, the business association and of course the community centre development of Kutsemba. I have also tried to line up interviews with the head local leaders (the Administrator and traditional leader), the women's group leader, the parent's association and hopefully the district head of agriculture. At least I won't be this unknown figure walking around this small village.

Overall feelings: it is amazing to be in this village as I am told the changes and the continuous obstacles of this village. The business association had pushed for electricity, running water and cell-phone communication and it exists in this town. Yet the running water is only found at several taps in the city which all people have to walk to in order to access and sometimes (like yesterday) it is shut off because someone either failed to pay the bill or didn't do their job that day. I also see some form of growth as some people are able to build with concrete blocks in the town while the majority still live in reed homes. I look forward to interview the clients of the microfinance institution and how it has helped their business to grow or fail in the next few weeks. I will likely not be in contact on this blog until I am back in Durban at the end of the month.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

First visit to Male Yeru

Yesterday, I got to tag along with the Mozambique Microfinance Facility (MMF) and International Capital Corporation (ICC) and learn more about a recent research study on the demand for savings in the Matutuine District where Hluvuku-Male Yeru (the microfinance institution which I will be studying) is located. Their study interviewed clients of the MFI and found that many clients were travelling in to the capital to deposit their savings because there is no facility currently used to make deposits in the area. The big journey to town is time-consuming and costly by transport and risky should the individual get mugged on the way to the bank. There was also savings groups called xitiques or just keeping it at home but all clients in the interview said that they would want savings to be provided by their local microfinance operator, Male Yeru.

I came back to Maputo yesterday to finish up some internet research and meet some friends for dinner. I hope to be back for Saturday for the 3rd anniversary of the Swedish school soccer team that I played on in 2004. I can't wait to check out more of Bela Vista this afternoon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The gardens of the Natural History Museum in Maputo

Here is one of the dinosaur-like figures that stand in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in Maputo. We haven't quite figured out which prehistoric animal it is because the sign was ripped off to explain the type and to be honest, visitors must take it as it is for lasting as long as it has through war. The museum is actually massive and covering a massive section of freakishly taxi-dermied wildlife like leopard and lion, a few skeletons and a couple of true-scaled alligator models. I understand most people go there to see the exhibit of the entire gestation period of the unborn elephant. I personally found the anthropological section to be most interesting with old photos, tools and crafts of the Makonde people.
Yesterday, I went to a new spot here called the Camissa (next door to the Nucleo d'Arte Gallery, a little cafe that has live music on Sunday evenings. I remember it in 2004 as the alternative artist spot filled with scattered canvas and strumming guitar by a group in the corner. Today it has a mini stage and internet cafe; catching up with the times, which I think Mozambique has the potential to do especially in the capital. Really great Mozambican vibe that reminds me again why this capital city always draws me back. The city is lively in dance, music, food, and nightlife, much different from any African city I've ever been to, and many others do say the same.

Today, I'm meeting with some of my key informants and hopefully my translator who will be assisting me on the field. Otherwise, the day is spent getting ready to head out tomorrow!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Research work break in the Maputo apartment

Day Three in Mozambique
Originally uploaded by make_change.
It's noon in Maputo and took this photo with undumbo on the 9th floor of the apartment patio. Click on the photo to see more shots of where I am staying before I head out to the field. Today I had an interview with one of the field officers of a Swiss NGO who concentrates on natural resource management in the Matutuine district. He gave me a great idea of the history of this area after the war and what forms of economic development he sees will progress for the communities. He sees full potential of tourism particularly in this area located close to some of the most beautiful beaches on the coast as well as the growth of the Elephant Game Reserve. However, the young people of the district have been migrating to South Africa or Swaziland because of the lucrative offers of the Rand and better jobs. One community who is running a lodge hopes to eventually take the profits of their venture and invest in building a school. This school is part of their plan to educate their children and create incentives and jobs for the youth to stay in Mozambique.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mozambique memories

Erin, my old roommate here in Maputo was sure to re-introduce me to the excellent taste sensations of Mozambique. Last night, we went to our favourite French restaurant place called la Pinga. Delicious medium rare steaks on rochefort sauce and escargots. And the chef is quite the character, he forgets to open your bottle of wine at the table and says "well, if you want me to open the bottle that means it will be finished right away." and someone always falls for the oh, don't worry, we'll be sure to buy another and mental note who said it.

I got my new Mozambique cell phone number activated and great to hear from some old friends. I met with the people of the Mozambique Microfinance Facility shortly just to say hello and then came back to the apartment to start getting my research sorted. It looks like we won't be leaving for Bela Vista until Tuesday which is fine with me. I still have to tie up some loose ends with the research questions before I can get on the field.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kakaloi from Ghana: Drumming Sensation!

Awesome Africa hosted some fantastic music last Sunday, one being this wicked Ghanian drumming group called Kakaloi. Amazing stuff. They drummed, did back flips and balanced slipping garbage can lids on sticks - very talented.

I finally reached Maputo and staying at my old apartment on Rua de Julius Nyerere. I'm very stoked to be back in Maputo and see a few changes from 2004. New pink BIM bank outlets, a new cigar bar next door, a bit of new paint on the buildings, but same door guard calling me menina - I guess that means they remember me. A few new additions to the 9th floor apartmento - two doggies, one that looks like those starwars ewok creatures and the dingo. super friendly pups. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get myself sorted with my project and make my way to Bela Vista on Friday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Durban Event Review: The Red Eye

On Friday night, I headed over to Durban's museum attached to city hall which was converted to their art event, Red Eye. The location was a haven for the artsies to come out for an evening to mingle and drink and take a peek at some of the ideas and expressions walking around the streets of Durban. The one exciting dance piece was by the Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre did a wicked performance in this circular room at the top floor of the museum space. The song and space worked out well for the dance. The rest of the galleries were video installation, a photo collection of Durban on a clothes line, some Durban drumming and a
potentially funny skit on the set of a happy, mushroom garden. It was a penguin vs chicken boxing match and horse vs floppy ear dog and his pet human.