After much discussion, Rico and I have decided to stay. :)
Cyclone Favio hit near Vilankulos yesterday and it seems the damage was quite extensive. My friend Jenny has gone up there this morning with a team from her work to do a Humanitarian Assistance Evaluation. Having grown up in an area with relatively no natural disasters, I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through an event like this.
I was really interested in the mission Jenny will be on this weekend, but even if it had been possible for me to join their team, it would not have worked out: I am sick, sick, sick. Two of the four people in the workshop I facilitated had the flu, and it seems I've caught it as well. I've spent the day in bed eating chicken soup, pita bread, Twix and drinking lots of juice. I've also been having fun with the new digital thermometer we bought. For most of the day I've been between 37.5 and 37.8, definitely no fun. Although I feel like crap, amidst the disaster of Cyclone Favio, it's obvious that suffering is all relative and that I truly have nothing to complain about.
More on the cyclone below.
Dozens injured in Moz cyclone
22/02/2007 22:30 - (SA)
Maputo - A powerful tropical cyclone with winds of up to 270km/p surged ashore in southern Mozambique on Thursday, ripping through buildings, knocking out power and injuring scores of people.
Cyclone Favio, the strongest to hit the southern African country, was then heading towards the Zambezi River valley where it was likely to worsen floods that have already killed at least 40 people and driven 120 000 from their homes.
The category-four storm hit Vilanculos, about 800km north of the capital Maputo, early on Thursday, damaging the tourist town's court, prison and market and destroying homes.
Roads were swamped with rain and blocked by uprooted trees, and there was no power in the town as of 18:05.
"I can't do anything because all the roads have been blocked by falling trees and it's even impossible to try and rescue the people whose homes have been hit because there is no access," said Sulemane Amugy, the town's mayor.
Twenty people were injured, according to officials in Vilanculos.
Numbers expected to rise
Sulemane, however, noted the toll might rise as some 720 people were in the town's hospital and jail when the cyclone hit. Both buildings suffered extensive damage.
The National Meteorology Institute, INAM, said Favio's strong winds and rains were concentrated in the province of Inhambane, but were felt as far away as Xai-Xai, the capital of nearby Gaza province.
The storm was moving north towards the central Zambezi River valley, which is already struggling with severe flooding after weeks of heavy rains.
"It's still very strong and heading towards the port city of Beira, Manica and lastly Zimbabwe, but it will reach there a little bit weaker than it is now," said INAM spokesperson Helder Sueia.
Officials said the storm could cause widespread damage to power grids, industry and other key parts of the impoverished nation's small but fast-growing economy.
Another cyclone devastated Mozambique in 2000.
Its impact has already been felt at the holiday resort of Tofo Beach, a favourite of backpackers and scuba divers, where it uprooted palm trees and destroyed electric pylons, reported Radio Mozambique.
The storm also cut off communication with the Bazaruto islands, which are home to a number of upmarket tourist lodges.
There are growing fears that Favio would bring more misery to flood-ravaged central Mozambique, where tens of thousands of people live in temporary shelters with scant food or water.
Officials said the problems could multiply in the coming days as Favio dumps its rains in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, further swelling the tributaries that feed the Zambezi.
Article available online here.
A cyclone is heading towards us, having passed to the south of Madagascar and into the Mozambique Channel. Cyclone Fabio is currently a Category 1 storm and is expected to make landfall tomorrow evening near Vilankulos, a resort town a couple hundred kilometers north of Maptuo. However, erratic as storm paths tend to be, there is a chance that Fabio will not veer north and will instead make landfall at Maputo Bay. Right now it's a relatively weak storm as far as these things go, but I must admit the prospect of cyclone is simultaneously exciting and panic-inducing. I'm sure meterology nerds in the hurricane belt of the US understand.
Maybe my workshop sessions will be cancelled on Thursday because of the cyclone!
Friends, I have been busy lately. I don't think I've worked this hard since my first two projects upon moving to Mozambique: the Input Supply Sector Study and the Tea Processing Plant grant application. Back then I was idealistic and eager to prove myself to my colleagues. Then I saw how everything here worked - people late on deadlines, expat consultants making $700/day to do some bullshit spreadsheet, corruption, donor funds having shamefully little accountability, incompetent people in desperately important positions - I could go on all day.
Yes, there are many hopeful aspects of Mozambique that I notice as well, but unfortunately I got hit with the cynicysm bomb. Hard. Getting an eyeful of reality through this not-so-rosy lens had a huge impact on my work. I felt it happening bit by bit, the laziness creeping in, being content with an 80% effort because it was better than most of the other work being done out there. I became complacent, but as much as I could see what was happening, the shame of not doing my best was never quite enough to provoke a change in attitude.
The change in my work effort this past week isn't, unfortunately, because I've suddenly been injected with hope. Instead, it's because I've been subcontracted by a local consulting firm to do a 5-day strategic planning workshop with a new NGO that wants to support artisans and the development of the art sector in Mozambique. Obviously the scope of this project is interesting to me for personal reasons, but that's not actually why I've been working so hard. It's because, once again, I feel the need to prove myself as a competent consultant.
When I first arrived in Moz, BL and Ricardo were the audience for my efforts to impress. Now they know my work and I feel no need to play that game anymore; I am confident in my abilities, as are they. But now there is a new audience, the partners (all male) in the firm that has hired me. They have a very different approach to projects than I tend to have, and I must work within their guidelines. So this week has seen me pouring over all the analytical tools and matrices that an MBA is supposed to live and die by, learning about the Balanced Scorecard approach to strategic management (another one essential to any self-respecting MBA, but that I completely missed out on in school and thus must teach myself), and creating Power Point slides until my fingers are cramped. I was talking to my mom on Skype last night, telling her how much I was working, and she referenced some book called "Death by Power Point." Genius. I must find this book.
In other news, the boys are doing well and we've avoided any "accidents" this week.
Yesterday was Valentine's Day and, though we worked for the better part of the evening, we had a nice dinner at home to celebrate. I made a huge veggie lasagna, Rico surprised me with a piece of cheesecake from Mundo's, and we had some $4 white wine that was actually not half bad. Rico also smothered me in presents - 4 different potted plants and a gorgeous spice rack that is filled with yummy new inspirations for my cooking.
Alas, I must get back to my workshop preparation. Sigh. The slow, painful Death continues.
I'm hoping that the down-time required for the boys to recuperate from the big snip will also break them of their latest habit: they've learned how to open the freezer. The other day Rico and I walked into the kitchen to find the freezer wide open, the tip of Parceiro's tail barely visible curving around the side of the door (we have a reversed fridge/freezer where the congelador is actually the bottom half of the appliance). Not only had the cat managed to nudge open the freezer, Parceiro apparently liked the cool air so much that he decided to get all the way inside and make himself comfortable on top of the ice trays. To ensure we didn't think it was a fluke occurance, Parceiro went ahead and pulled this trick two more times before Rico finally squashed the fun with a lock and key for the freezer door. Now the cats have taken to scrabbling against the plastic siding of the appliance and it's just a matter of time before they bust the lock.
Though the thought of cat hair in my ice totally grosses me out, I can't say I blame the boys. I would have gladly climed into the freezer myself during the blisteringly hot, humid days of late if I'd thought there was a fleeting chance I'd fit in there.
Rico has just left to pick up the boys from the vet. Fingers crossed, my friends. Fingers crossed.
Lately I've been in a cooking rut. It seems I always make some variation on the theme of 5 or 6 staple dishes. I try and mix it up, but the general lack of ingredients and the horrid problems with stock control in all the grocery stores and markets in the city make it tough. Today I'd had enough. I decided it was high time for some serious experimenting.
I took my inspiration from the Mexicans, who love the combination of mango and chile. I had a boyfriend in college who was from Juarez and would make the 4-hour drive home each weekend just to stock up on Mexican candy, his favorite being mango lollipops coated in red chile powder that came with a satchet of salt attached to the stick to sprinkle on the candy as one licked through the layers of spicy and sweet. I tried these lollipops once and thought they were absolutely disgusting. My favorites were the logs made of condensed milk and shredded coconut, dyed red and green to mimic the Mexican flag.
Today, however, as I sat in the kitchen trying to put some not-quite-ripe mangoes to good use, I decided to revisit the flavor combination I'd so soundly rejected years ago. The prospect of fresh ingredients, as opposed to a processed confection sticky from sitting in the sun in some streetcorner vendor's tray, was much more appealing. Feeling the creative kitchen juices flow, I made the following salad:
2 almost-ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp New Mexico red chile powder, mild
1 tsp red pepper flakes (vary according to taste)
As a main dish, I stir-fried some pork cubes and added a few spoonfulls of curry powder. It was delicious, but I do admit being partial to sweet/spicy and meat/fruit combinations. Even Rico liked the mango salad, although he ate it more as a chutney while mine was piled high over half the plate.
Maybe I should get my hands on one of those Mexican lollies the next time I'm in the US and give it another go...
This past Sunday we decided it was high time to get out of Maputo, not in the permanent sense but at least for a little weekend jaunt.We boarded the Zavora, the boat of our acquaintance Sérgio, and navigated for an hour through the Bay of Maputo. The water was beautiful, the sun was strong - a little too strong, maybe, seeing as Rico and Jenny took to singing the theme from Indiana Jones at one point during the boat ride.Our first stop was Portuguese Island, a deserted island that is a nature reserve and a little slice of heaven just outside Maputo. I spent the entire afternoon collecting shells, floating in the super salty water, and catching up with Jenny, Lies and her boyfriend (also named Ricardo, also a Brasilian).
We ended the day with a super seafood lunch on Inhaca, a large island next to Portuguese Island that covers the mouth of the Bay of Maputo. After red snapper and a couple of beers, we were ready for more sun and a good nap on the boat on the way back (at least that was the plan for me and Jenny).
All around a fabulous excursion. So much so that we are contemplating another trip this weekend, only this time to go camping overnight!