Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Simba and Construction

Isac Pequeno and Simba

Everyone at the orfanato has now gone back to school as February is the beginning of the school year here in Mozambique. The kids report that Simba goes to their elementary school several times a day, all the children there like him (even those who are scared and run away), and everyone knows his name and calls him constantly.

There are beautiful rock mountains surrounding Nampula in every direction. From the front gate you can see one that’s called “Cabeça de Velho” (“Old Head”) because it looks like an old man’s head, lying down. In the early evening just as it was beginning to get dark, we (Simba, a little group of kids and I) went to take pictures of it. When we got to the wall Simba spotted a neighbor passing by, leaped over the wall and chased him down full speed. We were worried that he was going to attack the neighbor but instead when Simba caught up to him he began frantically sniffing his hands. The neighbor told us that he and Simba are friends, Simba likes to smell fish from the market on his hands, and Simba visits his house often. He had to lead Simba back to the gate to finally get away.

Luckily the guards had just come and Simba was overjoyed to see them. Simba LOVES the night security guards. Every evening when they arrive he races as fast as he can to greet them and then leaps around to celebrate their arrival. (It’s too exciting to even stay still for a picture.) Even though he sees them every single night (for like 10 hours) Simba is ecstatic all over again each time they return a few hours later.

The Guards and Simba

Cabeça de Velho. Can you see the “Old Head”?

Our living room when it rains. The wind and rain work together to give us a little lake in there about twice a week. (The wind blows away things covering the holes in the roof then rain pours through them.)

Boys Dorm Construction is coming along nicely.

Salmon’s Sketches

Other Construction Site

The Kids watch the builders and then make their own little houses with scraps left over from the big construction site.

In case you weren’t able to see the “Old Head.”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Estefano, Pemba, Cashew Face, and Soccer!

For over a week now the one and only internet service provider in Nampula has been off, which is pretty frustrating, especially since I was determined to never go more than seven days without posting a blog!!! Anyway . . .


During this past week Victor’s brother Estefano got very sick. Estefano goes to a university in Pemba, which is about a five hour drive from Nampula (if you drive fast and don’t stop). When he went to a clinic there they diagnosed him with malaria and bronchitis, neither of which he has. On Friday morning Victor and I drove up to Pemba to get him and bring him back to a good clinic here. At the clinic here in Nampula he was able to see a doctor who found that he has been suffering from a blood infection, which he is now getting treatment for. The doctor is also looking into some chronic headaches and reoccurring sickness Estefano’s had over the past few years. He will be back in school in Pemba this week and then return to Nampula next weekend for a follow up. Please pray that they will figure out anything else that may be wrong and then be able to treat it.

Cabo Delgado Province

Victor and I have never been to Pemba but we enjoyed the drive and two seconds we were there! Cabo Delgado Province is one of the most remote places in Mozambique and even all of Africa! It has the least infrastructure and most unreached people. The interior is almost completely “untamed” and people have told us they’ve seen wild elephants running out of bushes in the jungle! There are also rumors that there are still lions there too. (These animals were all here before the wars but have not really been around since.) In the interior people mostly practice animism. On the coast they are Muslim dating back over 1,000 years as northern Mozambique was part of the Swahili culture and Islamic trading route. Cabo Delgado province was disproportionately significant in Mozambique's war for independence and the war even started there. It borders the country of Tanzania to the north where Mozambicans sought refuge and planned their fight against the Portuguese colonizers during the war. When we drove through the province we found a political flag flying prominently in every village – something I have never seen here before.

Driving north in Nampula Province.

Crossing the Rio Lúrio which separates Nampula and Cabo Delgado Province.

Passing villages. This is what most traditional houses look like in northern Mozambique.

You will always see kids rolling a wheel with a stick wherever you go!

The only picture I got of Pemba (find Estefano on Facebook if you want to see more of his town)!


Pemba is the capital of Cabo Delgado and it sits on one of the largest harbors in the world with water (the Indian Ocean) on three sides. The beaches are beautiful, the water is warm, and the atmosphere is something you could not find anywhere else. In Pemba there is a mixture of Macua and Swahili culture with Muslim prayer calls coming from the mosques and school girls wearing burquas walking through the streets. On the beaches there are luxury hotels that turn the city into a party town during every South African school holiday. There are restaurants in the sand with live music that you could easily find in Hawaii or Mexico. Modern apartments, banks, restaurants, and businesses are mixed in with shops, markets, and rows of houses that remind me of Pirates of the Caribbean. The headquarters of the charismatic Iris Ministries is in Pemba – I think they chose this province because it has the most unreached people. Ironically their base, which hosts an orphanage and missionary training programs, is across the street from one of the most expensive luxury hotels you will find in Africa. Can you imagine all the different kinds of people, culture, architecture, houses, foods, ways of dressing, music, etc. that are all fitting together in this one small beach town? And they somehow do all fit together. We were there less than 24-hours. I’m sure that if I were there longer I would know not to say half the things I just described and I hope this wasn’t too painful reading for anyone who has been to Pemba longer than one day.

Estefano’s Yard’s Ceiling.

Crossing the Rio Lúrio again on the way back into Nampula Province. It’s full of crocodiles!!! Yikes!!!

My Cashew Face

This year I have had to learn the hard way that whatever thing that is in Poison Ivy that makes it poison is also in mangos, cashew shells, and pistachio nuts. A few months ago my love for mango smoothies drove me into an overindulgence of them which resulted in an allergic reaction of itchy eyes and very painful swollen lips with lots of blisters (like really really bad collagen injections). Since then I have been too scared to eat a mango and I have been drinking mixed fruit juice very cautiously. Then last week I got the swollen lips and itchy eyes again. I was puzzled because I had not been near anything involving mangos. The next morning my eyes were enormously swollen and I looked really scary. The NEXT morning my entire face was swollen so big that my eyes could hardly open at all and my eyelids, cheeks, nose, and lips had broken into blisters. I started freaking out so Victor took me to Dr. Charles, our American Missionary doctor friend, who wasn’t alarmed and said to take Benadryl. He and Victor both agreed that it was probably caused by cashew shells.

One of Mozambique’s main exports is cashews and during cashew season people are selling them everywhere, roasted in the shells. My mulamu ("brother-in-law" in Macua) had given me a little bag of roasted cashews, which I had eaten last Sunday night. (They were really good.) I had no idea that the shells were poison and had not done a good job getting them completely off as they were like stuck to the nuts. I had even given Simba one still completely in the shell (luckily he didn’t appear to have any allergic reaction)! Every morning when I woke up my face was worse than the previous day again and again for five days in a row and I looked so scary that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror without sunglasses. On the sixth day it didn’t get worse and finally after eight days I think I’m going back to normal. Now I just feel grateful that I didn’t try eating any like this the day before my wedding! Thanks for reading my story and make sure you NEVER accidentally eat a cashew nut shell.

Me before eating the cashews.

Me 2 days after eating the cashews.

Me 3 days after eating the cashews.

Me 4 days after eating the cashews


I LOVE it when the shade finally falls over the dirt in front of our house in the late afternoon and the boys start up a game of soccer. I love it that my porch is a front row seat and sometimes even part of the game! This is one of the great pleasures in life – to sit on your porch in the shade, drink a cup of tea, and watch kids that you love playing soccer!

View from the porch

Other spectators


The Game

Truck interruption


Goalie flips for joy after team scores

Later goalie gets bored and tries more gymnastics but is unsuccessful

Some kind of Capoeira celebration after scoring

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!

I’m sure for half the people I know it would be more fun to actually be in the game than just watching it – so if you’re reading this – please come! (Especially the girls – there is no ban on girls playing – it’s just not common here, but it’s welcome. (The girls here actually play a game that is more like pitching in baseball and very athletic called “Ago,” which the boys here do not play).)

Boys Dorm Construction Update

Boys Dorm Right View Boys Dorm Left ViewBoys Dorm Front View