Friday, August 29, 2003

I really have to write about the water situation in our flat, it is turning into quite a saga. Today our tanks (5000l + 1000l) ran out again, and we calculated that we must have been using about 850l of water a day, which is clearly ridiculous.

We have found a few leaks but they don't add up to what we are losing - so we suspect foul play.

If any water engineers or plumbers out there want to have a week's working holiday in Maputo then do get in touch!

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Thursday, August 28, 2003

Had another meeting today at VIP, but this time it went v. well. Needless to say I was wearing a shirt and tie....

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Today I ate a lot of bananas. I also had a surprise meeting at a Very Important Place but unfortunately today I hadn't shaved, nor was I wearing a suit. Hilarious.

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Friday, August 22, 2003

...that is if the team doesn't tear itself apart with internal strife first!

Its like Big Brother here sometimes, except the people are actually working rather than lounging about in swimsuits and doing stupid tasks.

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Eyes glazed from too many hours of straight programming, but we are getting there....

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Friday, August 15, 2003

...and I've just heard the news about the blackout in North America - wow!

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Yeesh! Mega-busy here so no blogging for a while I shall try and rectify things this weekend.
Lots of interesting things have happened including:
- fixing the water supply to our flat
- visiting the boat yard
- flying a helicopter

One of these is made up. You shall find out which it is soon....

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Saturday, August 09, 2003

The heat is really beginning to get stuck in here, I might wander down to the 'Clube Naval' and see what kind of boats they have for hire. Although I am a bit worried that it is still entrenched in the old colonial style, awash with gin slings, leathery tans and socks pulled up to the knee. Guess I shouldn't diss it till I've had a look...

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Friday, August 08, 2003

Maputo has its own mini-cultural festival in the first two weeks of August - a lot smaller than in Ed obviously but good that its there.

Last night we went to see 'A Nossa Tradição' (Our Tradition), a funny-serious look at the culture clash between traditional rural life here, and the wicked ways of the big city.
In fact every other play in the festival seems to be about this same theme so its obviously a hot topic.

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Thursday, August 07, 2003

[Edinburgh Festival]

I have been reliably informed that there is a hilarious modern comedy playing at this year's festival. Its called "(Sunday is) The New Saturday", and its showing at 2pm at C-Central in the Carlton Hotel on North Bridge. Would really be a good idea for you all to go to it.... perhaps several times.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I have just got back from a longer-than-planned weekend in Joburg (due to visa trouble once again). Here is the second and final installation. I have slightly reordered some bits from the first episode too, just to confuse you.

[Macaneta - Episode 2]

We zoomed across the river and clanged onto the far bank. Macaneta was another 4km across the peninsula, on a dirt track which the locals reckoned our city car would handle – but only after a few grimaces. On the ferry we had chatted to some local ‘playboys’ who were taking their huge 4x4 to Macaneta. As we rumbled off the ferry I thought we could follow them to find the best route through the dirt track. Howevfer with their 4WD they didn’t really have to worry about that kind of trouble and roared off into the flat distance trailed by a plume of dust. In any case, Luiz had noticed that every time we stopped the car lost another hubcap, and he wanted to put the last one in the boot for safekeeping. (Though as it turned out later they get nicked so regularly here that the car rental guy didn’t even blink an eyelid at it, and didn’t charge us).

So once we got going we had the road, a thin strip of tarmac twisting over deep pothols, to ourselves except for an occasional herdsman and medium-sleek looking cattle.
The first 2km were easy but the road got sandier and sandier, and suddenly we were stuck. The grimaces were right.

Obviously a stuck car was not uncommon in these parts, as almost immediately kids started running up the road to have a look, and bunches of young men appeared from nowhere. If you had a helicopter view at that it would have been a bit like that scene in Jurassic park with the velociraptors converging through the long grass. Throughout human history there are stories of bandits and peasants deliberately digging holes in the road etc. to knacker the carts, chariots, caravans and cars of the rich, so that they can get a piece of the resulting breakdown action.

Apparently this practice is alive and well in Brazil so Luiz was very suspicious. Certainly a guy with a white landrover, a tow-rope, and a squad of hefties conveneniently appeared round a hill within about 200 secs of our arrival. Still, he helped us out and we got on our way again. Luiz was determined not to get stuck again so he rally-drove around the next few corners – but just a few hundred metres from the beach we ran aground once more. This time I convinced him to admit defeat and make a deal with White Landrover Man, and his buddy Red Pickup Guy, who obviously had the operation sewn up. We agreed a very reasonable 4 dollars for them to escort us there and back.

Finally we arrived. We managed to sneak into the “guarded” car park, demarcated by a movable road-sign and some trees, and left the car in the shade. Immediately before us was the Incomati estuary, half-covered in water-lilies. A large but rather faded restaurant sat across the path to the beach, which was only 3 minutes away. It faced onto the breakers of the Indian Ocean – and yet just over the ridge was the river [see photos]

We contracted a local young entrepreneur, Antônio (white T-shirt in the Karate Kids phots) to buy us a couple of beers from the resaurant. One thing that I have never encountrered anywhere in sub-saharan Africa is underage drinking, so I reckoned he would have no troub le bweing served. This proved to be the case. Unfortunately in the areas of almost permanent civil war stretching across the centre: Southern Sudan, Northern Uganda, Eastern Congo, and then the endless pain of Sierra Leone and Liberia, where society is half in ruins, child soldiers are standard operating procedure for a warlord, often going into battle high on booze and a whole selection of other drugs. But apart from this I have never seen t he same importance attached to underage drinking as you get in Britain.

By this time though the sun was hinting that it was not long till bedtime, so we had a power-sunbathe for one hour, and then ate some delicious prawns in the restaurant. When it came time to go back we gave a lift to a couple of craft-sellers we had been chatting to. Luiz was determined not to get stuck again, so every time we got near a sand-patch, he ordered us all out, reversed, and then took a run up to the sand patch so he could zoom over it. This Colin MacRae Rally approach caused great amusement to the locals, but it worked - we made it to the ferry with no running aground.

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