Monday, January 21, 2008


Slowly but surely, we are bringing our house to order. As of last Thursday (one week after we arrived), we have received all our bags. My bass came in on the 6 o’clock plane from Maputo after many poorly Portuguese-as-a-second-language phone calls and extra work from FGH staff in Maputo.

I’d always heard about musician’s getting a sign from God either to pursue music professionally or not. All guitarists have a story like this:

“I’d thrown out my back playing two-bit parts in kung fu B-movies for the last time. That’s when I decided to devote my life to my guitar.”

I figured this could be my sign to stop. I’d nearly resigned myself to 5 months in Mozambique without my instrument. However, in one final effort, I asked our friend Heather (a former Peace Corps volunteer whose Portuguese is much further advanced) to call the Maputo airport for me. She said they had it and she had them send it on the next plane.

I reserved my celebration until I actually saw my bass case on the tiny carousel at the Quelimane airport. Relief washed over me like Zambezia rain after a 5k up and down the marginal.

After we got it, we asked the security officer if there was a room that I could examine it in to make sure nothing had been stolen. He showed us to a room with a table and an ominously still pile of feathers on the floor. What better way to sum up Quelimane than a dead chicken on the floor of the security office at the airport?

The security guy totally ignored it. “What dead chicken?” he seemed to say. He regarded the carcass as if it were totally normal. Meanwhile we tip-toed around it like, well, like it was a dead chicken in the middle of the floor.

That poultry gave me pause: after all this effort to find my wayward bass, could God have put a dead chicken in between me and my dreams? Or maybe the customs agents had simply denied someone their patently third-world carrion carry-on. We checked my case quickly and went home. I have since dismissed it as someone else’s sign to stop whatever he was pursuing and do something else.

Taking stock of our luggage, we only found a few things missing. Lara brought a tiny sampler vile of perfume as a gift; some security person somewhere decided she needed it more than Lara did. Most oddly, of the entire 5-pack of toothbrushes we brought back for Troy, four of the compartments were opened and vacated. Only the fifth remained untouched.

With our final bag in our grubby little paws, we’re finally starting to feel settled in again. Our apartment is the best we could have expected in Mozambique. A one-bedroom flat-style furnished apartment above a delightfully tiny bar-restaurant called Pica-Pica. Since we’ve been here we’ve discovered three new places to eat, including the new Chinese restaurant. The spring rolls are exactly like they are in the U.S., and all the dishes have numbers instead of names.

The weather isn’t so bad. All but one day since we’ve been back have had a solid drenching around 1 p.m. that staves off the most intense heat. There is one drawback, however. To get to our apartment, there is only one narrow driveway to the back of the building where our gate is. After intense rains we have to walk through an ankle deep wall-to-wall puddle to come and go.

The city itself seems cleaner. The white walls of most of the buildings seem brighter, and to our eyes there is less dust in the street. Relating this last night, a friend corrected us. She’d had the same impression after returning from a long trip. She said that we’d only remembered it being filthier than anything she’d ever seen, and the city didn’t live up to the pigsty our imaginations had created. We decided she was right, but that hasn’t kept us from feeling better about Quelimane.

So we’re in and we’re safe. My days are filled with work, books, Mozamblog, and my bass. Lara is traveling to her research sites almost daily and comes home exhausted. Back to business as usual in Mozambique.


Blogger samantha said...

Carry-on carrion! Just beautiful. Very entertainingly told!

I'm glad you guys recovered all that lost luggage.

January 21, 2008 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Tricia said...

I knew your bass would find it's way back to your magic fingers. Don't ever give up on playing it. Love, Mom

January 21, 2008 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Laine said...

Dead chickens are always a sign. A sacrifice to ensure your good fortune has occurred. Already things are looking better and life and music go on!

January 22, 2008 at 7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't tell you how much we enjoy your entries. John and Sheila

January 22, 2008 at 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So at last I've found out where you live . . . above the Tica-Tica. I bet its noisy on the weekends. I'm going to have to come by & introduce myself.

February 11, 2008 at 11:42 AM  

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