Monday, October 27, 2003

So much for packing - I managed to put my kilt and related accessories into my bag, then got bored and went for a run with a Judo guy round the 'fitness forest' (dedicated readers will remember it from way back, it has all those signs with directions for physical jerks on). His girlfriend accompanied us to the park and sat at a strategic point to keep an eye on him. Since it was night, there weren't many other people running, though quite a few 'thinking about running' in sporty clothing while not actually doing it.

That was Saturday. Sunday turned into a very random day, I went for a chat with a guy from work in order to cement the anti-Darth alliance. He's one of the few genuinely genuine bona fide straight up guys in a senior position here, so I have a lot of time for him. He is building a house in an ex-rural area to the north of the city. We bumped along the dirt road with four kids (his plus two nephews) in the back. He phoned ahead to order the local restaurant to prepare a fish. This restaurant is owned by a guy known to everyone as 'Mafavuka' which means 'fell from the sky' because he was one of the few passengers on Samora Machel's ill-fated last flight to survive the mysterious plane crash.

He walks with a limp but appears to be doing very well for himself. The fish was delish, I washed it down with a few beers, my colleague with an impressive stream of whiskies. We then went down the road to his half-finished house and drank a lot more, while an entire village worth of kids played screaming random-a-side football on the little pitch he has built as a contribution to the local community (he is not originally from this part of Moz but like many many people here, an internal migrant).

About 8 o'clock we finally start heading home, having compared many secrets and sketched out a few Machiavellian plans. Only a few km down the track though he pulls into another watering-hole which is being constructed by a senior civil servant who I will avoid naming. The kids get a fizzy rotgut each to keep them quiet, which the littlest one, a cheery madcase called Marlon (after Brando) glugs down in about 15 secs then wonders why his belly wants to explode. My pal has a double whisky but I manage to stick to Amarula as I am getting worried about his fitness to drive.

Sure enough, half-an-hour later we wander up to the car and everyone gets in - except him.
"You drive, Cameron - I'm going to sit in the back (its a 4x4 pickup) because I want to smoke but the kids don't like me smoking in the car."

So, significantly over the (British, and probably Mozambican too) blood-alcohol limit I swing the truck through the gate and we all bump happily along the unlit dirt track, zig-zagging to avoid the ravines. Finally we hit the start of the tarred road and I pull in to the side.
"I'm going to be driving faster now that we're on the road so you'll freeze your nuts off up there in the back"
"OK - I'll drive from here - let me just do a pee".
[stumbles off stage left, falling over a few times, to pee against an innocent hut that happened to be nearby]
I look over my shoulder - there are two families worth of kids in the back. I may have had a few but at least I can independently manipulate each limb on command.
"Kids - do you want your Dad to drive or shall I drive?"
"You drive, Uncle Cameron" is the chorus of relief. Hmm.

So I persuade the car's inebriated owner to get into the passenger seat and we head off again on the main road. Unfortunately there is an old guitar in the car and pretty soon it is a madhouse of nursery rhymes mixed with MTV Unplugged-style Hard Rock which is my mate's forte. None of this helps me drive 6 people along a semi-lit potholed road in a car with bad headlights, a dirty windscreen and the road-handling of a supermarket trolley. The saving grace is that only lunatics and truckers drive at night here outside built-up areas here, so the road is almost empty.

After half-an-hour we miraculously make it back and I stagger upstairs to the flat. Yeesh - what a sunday. Psychologically I am completely not prepared for being in Britain two days from now.

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