Monday, August 20, 2007

Welcome to Quelimane!

The first thing to report is that our current hotel is devoid of internet access. No e-mail, no banking, and certainly no blogging. Hence the shameful lapse between the initial entry and this, the second.

We are now in Quelimane, our final destination. Quelimane is a large city (pop. 200,000) in the very center of the coast. It is the capital of Zambezia province and a shipping hub for much of central Mozambique. It’s southern border is a spectacular marginal on the river Bons Sinais (Good Signs). It’s as wide as the Mississippi, and it lets out into the Indian Ocean only a few kilometers upriver.

Our first night we stayed at the Flamingo Hotel near the downtown area. It is a very nice hotel by Mozambican standards, but its amenities are reflected in the price. We will be staying in temporary housing until September 7, and our budget (as well as our companions budgets) dictated lower priced housing.

Our initial move was to the Hotel Rosy. The Rosy is located right downtown near a very nice food store and many well stocked shops. It is exactly half as expensive as the Flamingo, and exactly half as nice.

The shutters on the windows we mended with packaging tape. The floor in the bathroom was wet upon our arrival and stayed wet for the duration. The mattress was old and worn out in the middle, so that we awoke in the middle of the night to find ourselves in piled in the center not unlike a Gordita. We stayed four nights, and the stain that was on the sheet when we arrived was there when we left.

The most interesting thing about nighttime at the Rosy is the changing fauna. The first night it was mosquitoes. Visible by day and audible by night, they are much smaller than mosquitoes in our native Tennessee. They apparently sleep under tables, nightstands, and beds, and come out to feed at night. You know, like vampires.

The next night was flies. Plain old flies, with no apparent fear of human beings. I think they wagered with each other as to whom among them could land closest to our nostrils without being sucked in.

The last night, I detected no vermin. However, Lara woke me in the middle of the night after she heard a tiny scratching sound coming from the closet.

Needless to say, we left as soon as we could. We are now staying in the Muledo Hotel. The FGH logistics director (and our new best friend) Aguinaldo found this hotel at the end of one of the main roads in town. It’s set up apartment style with a living room immediately to the right as you walk in, three bedrooms on the right of the hall, a kitchen to the left and a bathroom at the end.

The bedrooms are furnished like American hotel rooms: large bed, armoire, nightstands, TV, small refrigerator, a desk, and a chest of drawers. The AC functions perfectly and the mattress is nice and firm. There are mosquitoes (this is Africa after all), but maybe only one or two a night.

The single drawback to the Muledo is the lack of hot water. Before coming to Africa I would have thought that a hot water heater would have been the last thing that I would have needed. However, it being winter in the southern hemisphere, the gets down near 50 degrees each night, and a cold shower at 7 in the morning is a exhilarating to say the least. Still, after the Rosy, it’s paradise.

Our days are spent in Portuguese class. After coffee at our hotel, we head to the home of the FGH Community Outreach Director, Michele. Olivia (our professora) is staying with her and she holds class there around a plastic porch table. We start around 9 a.m. and go until around 6 p.m. Lunch is generally at 12:30. We send the empregada (this word translates as maid, but that’s not quite the relationship we have with Regina) to the market in the morning, and then our professora doubles as our cook. We eat wonderfully fresh vegetable stews, pasta, coconut rice, different bean dishes, guava juice, and fresh papaya, oranges, and bananas for dessert.

So, in short, our dreams of coming back from Africa with six-pack abs are shot. There is entirely too much good food available. My personal favorite, coconut rice, I have just found out from the locals is horribly fattening. Leave it to me to latch on to the least healthy part of my diet.

We’re still having a blast. More to come shortly.


Blogger Peggy Bratcher said...

Hello guys, I am so happy to see pictures. Thanks for the update. We miss you but I know you are having a great experience. let me know if someone is coming your way and I'll send emergency provisions like M&M's.

August 21, 2007 at 6:34 AM  

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