Category: Travel and Geography

How do you find life back in the US?

US Flag photo, illuminated by the sun behind it
US Flag picture
Creative Commons with Attribution:


I was asked again yesterday, “How do you find life back in the states?”  This is not the first time I’ve heard this question, it could actually be closer to the hundredth time I’ve been asked that question.  There is no short answer to this question, but my long answer begins something like “It depends.”

Since I’ve come back to the US after living abroad for three years, I’m surprised at how little life in the US has changed.   More on that later.


Some people who have previously lived abroad for an extended period of time ask me the question differently than other people.  They seem to be probing, and after a few sentences I usually develop a sense of rapport with the person I’m talking to.  They inevitably discuss life in the US in a different way than folks who haven’t sailed past the shoreline and into the unknown.  There is a similar camaraderie between non-native citizens and people who just lived abroad for a while.  There seems to be a distinct disconnect between the present moment in which we have our conversation, and the America they see inside their mind.  It’s as if the memory of living away from America draws a curtain in between both participants in the conversation as we both relieve our experiences simultaneously with our dialogue.

An equally palpable curtain is drawn when I begin to discuss my “It depends” in a more political context.  My conversations upon returning usually focus on the scenery or how friendly the people were that I was living with.  I’ll often try to steer the conversation towards technology and the huge impacts I see as possible within the coming decade.  I have become optimistic about the world in which we live, the potential for collaboration and information exchange on a global scale is only growing.  Africa which is so often talked about as the “dark continent” may within 10 years have better cell service and a higher base of homes with solar than the US.  I can’t help but speak about the tremendous opportunities afforded by technology that are becoming available to my friends.  I can point to numerous examples of how technology can revolutionize the development work being done across the planet, and I can speak of my certainty that it will revolutionize the world.

But my feeling about life in America?  Well… it depends.  Upon my return to the US, I was assaulted by the different, and darker form of capitalism here.  I am surrounded by reminders that small businesses aren’t as plentiful as they were in my childhood.  That it is becoming increasingly difficult to know that the middle class which I’m a firm part of, doesn’t seem to exist for very many of my friends and family.

While I was away living a unique life very distinct from most Americans, I was able to distance myself from many of the things going on here.  This distance is the curtain drawn between my memories and my present.  I listened to the BBC as my main news source, and I wasn’t surrounded by the constant flow of headlines, warnings, disaster stories, and drivel that is the media in the US.  I escaped from the clutches of commercial radio, tv, and for the most part I even experienced ad-free Internet.  How is life back in the US?  It depends… if you are referring to how I am constantly being scanned or tracked offline or online as a mechanism for companies to make money off me; then I don’t like it.  What are all these small plastic cards at stores for?    They had them before I left, but I am not exaggerating when I say I have to have a different “members” card for every store I want to visit.  I have more cards than keys on my “key chain.”  Is this really necessary?  Is this what America is?  It’s the same story of rampant consumerism and the disposable society, but now I’m the one who is on the outside looking in.  It’s unfortunate that our freedom and anonymity has to be sold in order for us to buy bread for our children at the best possible price.

Often I’ve been thankful and optimistic about the outlook for America.  This is clearly attributable to movements such as Freecycle or Craigslist.  The new apartment is nearly 50% furnished with hand-me downs, items bought at yard sales, or freebies from the curb.  The computer I’m typing this on I purchased from a garage sale.  The box spring under our mattress that I will sleep on was in great condition when we picked it up from a listing on Freecycle.  America is a great country!  Look at the progress we are making as we move away from the “disposable society,” even while companies still perpetrate unsustainable living on the American people.  These online tools have opened up so much commerce, and created new paradigms for how we view the world.  How is America?  America is amazing!

And then I heard about “Net Neutrality.”  To be fair I had heard about it before we left, and I was familiar with the concept.  But it was ruled that “Net Neutrality” is important and should remain.  Now as I’m sitting at a computer in our Nation’s capital, enjoying streaming Internet that was sold to me as 50 megabits per second (estimated at 1 track from iTunes per second).  When the college I was assisting last year had a 4mbps Internet connection it blew my mind!  It had been too long since I had a great connection to the Internet.  I could once again engage in so many activities that I took for granted.  Mostly all technical given my craft, but occasionally I would stream videos.  It was certainly a longer wait for it to buffer over there, but the overall quality wasn’t any different.  Youtube adjusts my bitrate to the same here as it did there.  Perhaps it’s not Net Neutrality, and there’s atmospheric interference, or swamp gas reflecting from the surface of Venus.  I want to ask people: “Do you think Craigslist will survive the loss of Net Neutrality?”  Who pays for Craigslist to get a share of the bandwidth when your ISP wants to run a competing service?

Whatever the cause, it’s clear to me that the end of Net Neutrality as we know it was a stab into the heart of the Internet.  In one court ruling, capitalism prevailed against the betterment of humanity as a whole.  I’ve posted a clip from Stephen Colbert in a different blog post here, as I believe he  waxes more eloquently against this threat than I can.

The Internet as I have known it, and come to cherish it is under attack.  And how do most American’s feel about it?  Helpless.  So many people I know all feel helpless in the face of the enormous problems facing the planet.  We have climate change, human rights abuses, poverty, starvation, political strife, rampant consumerism, crony capitalism, spying governments, GMO crops, healthcare, overwhelming inequality in our own country, and so many other causes.  The loss of Net Neutrality is just another cause that seems to be falling on deaf ears.

Why is it so difficult for the government to STFU and get to work?  Why do both parties, Republican and Democrat insist on perpetuating the belief that we are so fundamentally different from our neighbors?  We aren’t that different, almost all of us want the same things.  There are certainly disagreements on how to get the job done, but it is inexcusable how ineffective our politics seem.  Both sides blame the media and each other.  Who is it that is pulling the strings to get our senators and representatives to think like this?  How can they act like this?  How do I find the US?   It disgusts me how ugly our politics have become.

And sometimes the political answer of “It depends…” goes on for a bit.  I was lucky enough to learn about TED talks while I was overseas, and I learned more from them than I believe I have ever learned from watching nearly any TV channel.  I was introduced to dozens of concepts that have altered my view of what I believe our future and the future of all humanity can be.  I have watched hundreds of talks on dozens of topics.  I have been introduced to Sir Ken Robinson, Google Glass, and Hans Rosling.  My life is fundamentally changed for the better just by being exposed to the brilliance of other people.  How do I find the US? It depends.  If the conversation stops with my exposure to TED and it’s influence on my life, then I believe America is a great and wondrous place.  The sort of place that can give birth to the greatest minds of today and the future.  It is here that the best ideas can come to life.

Sometimes I talk more about TED and sometimes I will come to my introduction to Lesterland. This famous TED talk given by Lawrence Lessig has also had a profound impact on my life.  It has been watched from the TED website 1,106,140 times as of this writing.  In the video Professor Lessig discusses the impact that money and the American capitalist system have had on the policial system in the US.  I find that Professor Lessig is correct about his assertions regarding the influence of the wealthiest Americans and corporations have.  I pause when I think about this speech, and I recognize that most of the other battles I want to fight, Climate Change, Net Neutrality, Income Inequality, homelessness, marijuana legalization; ALL of them are potentially symptoms of the unchecked influence of wealth on politics in our country.   How do I find the US?  I find it terrifying.  I’m thankful for the work of groups such as Rootstrikers, so that I may not feel alone against this cause of causes.  I believe this influence of money on politics is central to the stories we are fed from the news, and a major factor causing strife in Washington, and preventing a more democratic approach to our own governance.

I watched the TV show Continuum when I first settled down in December. The story portrays a grim version of the future not dissimilar from George Orwell’s 1984 totalitarian state.  Much like the Cyberpunk science-fiction genre and role-playing game of my youth, the future totalitarian state is controlled by corporations.  It’s not an extreme tale of science fiction anymore to perceive a path where we ourselves could allow our future to slip quietly into the night of totalitarian control.

The Government in Turkey which is a democratic country recently shut down Twitter, blocked VPN access, and continues to attempt blockage of the services the Internet can provide to a populace that wishes to organize.  How can we feel we are really that different in the US when we find out that corporations such as RSA are complicit in helping the government purposefully flaw encryption standards.  It’s been known for over a year that the NSA has been engaged in incredible, James Bond and Mission Impossible style computer infiltrations.   But what about the other branches of the government?  Why would we think that these programs have only been built and designed for use outside the US?  Is it difficult to believe that the FBI, ATF, US Border Patrol, and local PD don’t have access to nearly unfathomable technology?  How about the vest cameras proposed for Oakland cops?  It’s not difficult to think about that facial recognition technology used on Facebook and how easily it could be put to profiling purposes.  Do you think Officer Anthony Bologna would have thought twice?

How I feel about being back in the US is very deep and complex.  I missed the mass movement of Occupy Wall Street while it was happening in cities across the country.  The OWS movement created something in the country that seemed to be lacking up to that point.  It created a conversation amongst Americans, “Can we be better?”

I believe that the US is an amazing and complex place.  It is the starting point of the world’s experiment with democracy.  It is the country that has facilitated and allowed so many of the positive everyday aspects that influence the entire planet.  The US also has its fair share of challenges, and things can look awfully grim at times.  I believe the US needs a serious dose of change, particularly aimed at the influence of the Lesters.  I believe the continual quest for more profits at the expense of customers, quality, the environment, and future progress must stop.  We need to continue the conversations started by OWS, we must not buy into the system of Republicans Vs. Democrats. Us Vs. Them.

There is so much room for advancement of the world, and much of the push for that will come from our country.  More tools like Bitcoin, Freecycle, Permaculture, the Stem Cell burger, renewable energy, ,and  can help dethrone the tyrants of our times.

I believe living in the US we citizens are allowed a choice:

To engage with or ignore the challenges of our time.

I know that this has been a lengthy essay to read, but I hope you understand my hesitation to your question a bit better now.  Perhaps you will think about asking a more engaging question the next time you meet someone who has just come back.  More importantly I hope you have considered the implications of  the more dreary facets of the US and will do your best to be part of the solutions to our global challenges.  Maybe you’ll be returning from abroad soon.  I’ll try to wait patiently for you to continue once I’ve heard you say : “It depends.”


January–The Month of Mozambique Quick Trips

Two weeks ago we were able to go across the border to Mozambique for the first time. It was an incredible experience, and a distinctly different culture than Swaziland. We had a great time even though we walked round-trip 5-6 miles in the pounding heat.

A few days after the initial trip we were able to go back to Mozambique, but this time we were led by our Make (host mom) who played Mozambique tour guide. Led by a lack of Portuguese, and limited knowledge of Meticais the local currency, we were ready to be pushed into a small adventure.

Overall Portuguese is similar enough to Spanish that it is easy enough to read it. It is easy enough to speak if you are given enough time to recite the words in your head prior to vocalization. I felt pretty lucky last week when I was asking “Donde esta el banyo?” and the waiter at the restaurant knew what I was asking for, even though you ask “onde esta casa de banho” in Portuguese. “Un mas cervejich” is pretty similar to a Spanish phrase in common use. There are definitely other differences, such as “Ciao” for goodbye, and “obrigado” for thank you. One of the border agents corrected me on that one time I uttered “gracias.”

Linguistic interests fulfilled by our Mozambique trips aside, I am also feeling my inner numismatist satisfied over handling three different currencies all in one day trip. Our second breakfast consisted of some Mozambican bread stuffed with bajiya, a spicy falafel like bean patty. I gladly paid the vendor using Swaziland Emalangeni. As we proceeded across the border I transacted with a money changer to move my South African Rand into Mozambique Meticais. I then proceeded to pay with Meticais as much as possible, as I stumbled upon a little known monetary issue between cultures, educations, and currencies.

Our Make decided to spend Emalangeni and Rand today while I stuck with meticais. Due to the differences in exchange rate, I thought it would be best to pay attention to what implication that might have on my financial future. The exchange rate today was 4.5 Meticais to everyone 1 Rand or 1 Emalangeni. To gain admittance to the market you must first pay a fee. Make paid 5 rand and I paid 5 meticais. And no one tried to stop her. By the time I figured out what was happening, she had already paid and was inside. A second incidence occurred during a confusing purchase for a coconut. The coconut was being sold for 5 rand when I asked the vendor. I let her know that I only had meticais and the price became 15 meticais, or just over 3 rand. My initial reaction is the vendors are trying to make more money off of Swazis. Then after a while of pondering the discrepancies I thought back to two previous conversations with my Make. Before we went to Mozambique, Make said she didn’t understand Meticais enough to be comfortable spending them. Yesterday our Mozambican bhuti (brother) was getting his money from Make, and he wasn’t able to count the Emalangeni, because he didn’t understand it. The inconsistencies I spotted have nothing to do with scams, it’s an issue with the math necessary to keep the exchange rate always in your head, and be able to do on the fly monetary conversions.

The exchange issue and my extreme unease about changing Emalangeni or Rand for Meticais are good first lessons on travel to Mozambique prior to my vacation that started on Monday. Almost every other volunteer in country has been to Mozambique, but we have been dragging our heels so we could go somewhere nice for my birthday.

And you ask what of our fabulous Mozambican vacation?  You guessed right… it was fabulous!  As a distinct contrast to Swaziland, Maputo is a real city.  Millions of people, dozens of bars, restaurants, shops, megastores, traffic congestion, museums, and seafood!

The entire vacation was not really planned at all.  We met a Canadian VSO volunteer while hanging around at the Mozambique embassy in Mbabane.  Cam stayed at the backpackers in Mbabane that night, and I got to know a bit about him.  He’s a pretty big tech geek as well.  We talked for a few hours about the good old days of servers with dozens of gigs of ram, and moving VM’s around using VMware or Hyper-V.  I am in a good place to find a geeky friend, so I’m pretty excited about meeting him.  Beyond cool… Cam invited us to stay with him at his house in Xai Xai when we visited Mozambique a few weeks from that time.

I was able to finally contact him briefly a few days prior to departure.  Turns out his house wasn’t ready and we had no where to stay if we went on to Xai Xai.  So the three of us that were going decided to be spontaneous (abrivitar[sp] in Portuguese?).  Our destination waffled between Tofo,Xai Xai, and the unknown.  Craftiness upon the part of my newfound VSO friend saved the day and got us to Inhaca island.

But first… lets rewind a bit.  Pulp Fiction it if you will.  The decision to go to Maptuo and Mozambique wasn’t set in stone, but it has been in motion for many months.  We’ve been seeking permission (see temporary asylum) to go to Mozambique from the Peace Corps.  Due to the proximity of our site we should be able to travel there on a daily basis.  Maputo is actually closer than the biggest town in Swaziland.  Digressing.  Without any real plans we left site to cross the border.  Having practiced surfing with the local transports, it was a comfortable ride from the border gate to the bus rank on the Mozambique side of the border.  There may have been only 15 people in the ride.  Terrifically spacious! They really know how to pack them in on the Mozambique side.  We missed the first khumbi (chappas in Moz) to Maputo because bomake were jumping from the transport as if the enemy was spotted and there was incoming artillery fire and the sarge was just taken out by a sniper.  They ran.  They pushed.  Even when the next ride came and we were in a distinct line, pushing and physical confrontation became necessary when there were only 2 spots left on the chappas.  Seat acquired the three of us moved onto Maputo.

Now most of the readers know Thandiwe and myself.  Our friend and fellow PCV Rekha (ligama lakhe nge siSwati Nosipho) came along with us to Maputo.  Rekha was born in India and has since become an American citizen.  She has been a PCV in Morocco and the Philippines.  She is friendly, crafty, sweet, and incredibly patient.  She also speaks Gujarati.  On a continent that has an enormous Pakistani and Indian population, it was suddenly impossible for us to be lost.  You see… very few people speak any English in Maputo.  Most people have as much English as many Americans have of any other language.  When Rekha wasn’t immediately present we were armed with Spanish (and legged with French).  As I alluded to above the misguided belief that I could speak Spanish and be understood was still better than nothing.

With her friendly nature and native tongue, we had secured a Maputo tour guide within minutes of arrival.  Don’t underestimate just going up and talking to someone!  Our initial guides charge was to lead us to another guide.  This encounter was the equivalent of training wheels, for me getting used to paying for EVERYTHING while in Mozambique.  I wanted to give the guy about M20 (20 meticais), but needed change.  So I bought a bunch of postcards.  Dang… no change given.  Bought some bread… got the guy change.  It took longer to find him change (while he’s leading me to a gift shop, a phone store, a bank, and the bread stand), than it did to find our other tour guide.  Our Permanent guide…. Eric we call him.  I think his mom probably calls him that too.  Eric was great… showed us a few important buildings in downtown Maputo, fended off a drunk, and came to hang out at the fish market with us.  Particularly great that he knew all the right chappas routes (called local transports when in city), and we saved a fortune on cabs.  Sadly I started realizing the longer he hung out… the more it cost.

While the tour was in progress we did get to see the historic Maputo train station that is still in use to this day.  They are currently exhibiting a train from 1895, the first from Maputo to Pretoria.  It turns out Maputo used to be called Lourenco de Marques.  I’m not sure who it was named after, but if I had Google I would tell you.  If you have Google… and I know you do, let me know!  The train station had a small tourist shop with expensive postcards being the only good thing available.  Immediately outside of the train station is an enormous statue of what appears to be a Valkyrie.  The statue is a local myth about the first founding of the city.  A long time ago the area of Maputo was inhabited by a great snake that ate all who dared to come near the area.  The hungry serpent would wait for trespassers to come underneath it, and then it would bite their heads off.  One woman was able to outsmart the wicked creature by carrying a large pot of incredibly hot oil on her head.  When the snake attacked he swallowed the scalding oil instead.  The woman in the statue is remembered as the first protector of the city.

We left downtown Maputo for Costa Del Sol and its famous fish market.  Right about now we started realizing a tour guide wasn’t necessary anymore and we donated M150 to Eric and parted ways.  It was good timing since I wasn’t planning on buying him lunch.  I felt my hunter instincts titter when I noticed that my lunch of crabs was trying to escape from their crate when I showed up.  Unless I caught it myself it would be hard to get any fresher seafood.  Thandiwe snagged 2kg of prawns for a few hundred mets.  Sadly they were not quite as alive as the crabs, they probably hadn’t seen water for at least a few hours.  Rekha is a vegetarian, but thankfully at this point in the trip she was digging on eating french fries.  So after selecting our meals we were sent to sit at a table and wait for guys to prepare our food.  I bought a wood and bead necklace from one of the half dozen pushy vendors.  The necklace is ebony wood, and seems to be a famous medium for Mozambican art. We paid for our meals, caught another chappella and we went to Fatimas.

While trying to plan our next move, Rekha led the party to the Maputo Brahma Komari center.  I have never been to a Brahma Komari center, so I was really interested to see what an experience it could be.  Sadly no one was home when we stopped by.  Plans were made for a second visit on our return trip from whatever was next.  Later that night we went to a Mozambican hotspot named Nova Milano. We met Cameron and a few other VSO volunteers here.  I haven’t filled anyone in on the number of foreigners we are meeting, but an Australian volunteer named Jeff proposed an interesting challenge.  Now all my life I’ve wanted to get a beer with an Australian.  It’s impossible to explain really, just understand that I’ve checked off something on my list of things to do before I die.  Here’s one great thing to understand for all the Americans reading this:  beware of accents!  Jeff let me know how sad it is that us “yanks” can’t figure out one accent from another.  Aussie was my second guess, but it wasn’t before I threw an insult at him by thinking he’s from the UK.  And I found out something valuable from this; he’s right.  I have not been paying enough attention to accents and I am now on a quest to hear and understand the differences.  Throwing down our plight of no plans with the VSO volunteers from Canadian, Finland, Aussie, and a non-volunteering Argentinian couple, we asked for suggestions on what to do.  After a round table of fascinating discussion it was highly recommended that we go to Inhaca island in order to maximize our enjoyment. And minimize the amount of transit time to get there.

We found out later that night that the ferry left the next morning, and we should be at the dock no later than 6:30.  This meant that Thandiwe was kind enough to wake us up around 4:30.  We did make it to the dock early enough to get in line to during the mad rush to get tickets.  People in Swaziland generally aren’t great about queuing in lines, and if you blink someone will cut.  Here it was dirty streetfighting and all elbows to get to the front of the line.  We successfully bought 3 tickets for only M5 each.  Standing in line for the ferry we recognize that this is significantly cheaper than the M200 we were told the night before.  Regretably we will never know the beauty of Cathembe island even though we have tickets to!  After being at the dock for 2.5 hours we finally are able to buy the correct tickets with little fuss, and not so much as a push.  It probably helps that most people getting tickets were foreigners.

Sit right back and I’ll tell a tale

A tale of a fateful trip

That started onthis voyage upon this fateful ship…

A three hour tour

So three hours later the large boat pulls up to the island and docks about a mile off shore.  It turns out that you can walk about half a mile out at low tide and be up to your waist.  But this wasn’t low tide.  It was important that a small boat (local transport?) come pick us up.  The importance of this wasn’t immediately apparent to me, but I thought it had to do with the shallow water.  Probably had a little to do with it, but the fact that I wasn’t allowed to get on the dock until I paid M20 per person showed me that it was important for the residents to squeeze the Mets out of us.  It’s not just the residents though, because after getting off the dock we were approached by a member of Mozambiques finest, and told we must pay a M200 island usage fee.  An M200 per person usage fee.  That being done we were afforded the luxury of local boys bombarding us with details about how their rooms are cheaper than the next guys.  Luckily Cameron armed us with a guys name and we were soon taken to the right place.  Thankful for it to as the backpackers has a room with a single bed and a double bed.  All three of us crashed for M800 a night.  Excellent!

Seafood anyone?  Everything that might be purchased by regular tourists was incredibly expensive on the island.  Even the pineapple was overpriced.  The goods at the market that were geared to locals however were right in our price range.  Bajiya (bean patties) and emabawu (french bread) were less expensive than they even are in Lomahasha.  We still managed to eat like kings, and Thandiwe and I ate up the seafood.  Nosipho by this point was getting a little sick of french fries and was exploring new territory with bread and local veggies.  The food and beverage were perfect regardless of the price when I consider where I was at.  A beautiful island paradise with the most fantastic beaches I’ve ever seen.  I’ve been to Hawaii, California, Mexico, Jamaica and now here.  It is possible that whatever beach I’ve been on most recently is the best beach.  There was truly little trash compared to everywhere else I’ve been in Africa, and practically no people.  The low tide aspect of the island was apparent the next day as we strolled on the beach.  There were people walking at least a mile off shore, and they were only up to their mid chest in water.  At one point I was out a few hundred feet and suddenly I was in water up to my shins!  The low tide, low depth and water clarity really helped me hone my crab hunting skills.  If you ever need a small shellfish hunter, or pictures of small shellfish let me know.

The island experience was inevitably too short, as is any vacation.  We made friends with a couple from Germany; and also a man named Grant ,a South African who is opening his own lodge on the island.  It’s pretty nice that he was there, he gave us a bit of rundown on the island, he’s practically adopted a local boy, and he shared his dinner with us.  It was also kind of him to share that the ferry has a tendency to breakdown so it is important to have a Plan B.  It seems that everyone we have talked to since our feet touched African soil have insisted to us the importance of having a Plan B.  Someday I will take the time to figure out what my Plan B is, just as soon as I figure out what my Plan A is.

There were a few other tourists on the island, but overall it was simply a tranquil place to kick our feet up and take in life.  I hope to visit again and take advantage of snorkeling or scuba there.  We only walked one side of the island, and apparently we missed the truly gorgeous beaches, the lighthouse, the other two villages and the island museum.  We also found the best restaurant two hours before we left.  Now we know for the next time, hopefully soon.

Heading back to Maputo was a treat, and added credibility to Grants stories when the alarms rang on the ferry and the burly engineers charged below deck with 50 pound wrenches.  We never did quite get back up to full speed, but the 3 hours on the ferry passed uneventfully anyway.  We stayed the night at Fatimas again, sad to feel the adventure closing in on the final act.  As adventures go however it was far from over.  Friday morning we woke up, packed and left for the Brahma Komari center.  Luck!  Someone was home.  We were greeted by Sister Estrella and led to the mediation room.  We only had a 15 minute sit but meditating is a beautiful experience.  I only mediate about twice a month it seems, but this was unique.  It turns out that many of the Brahma Komari beliefs fit pretty succinctly with my own.  They believe that Buddha, Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed are all expressions of the same divine qualities we should all seek in our own lives.  Likewise they accept all faiths as having value and purpose, and don’t believe in much of the negativity found in many religions.  As proof in the pudding, a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses came by to talk about their new publication with Sister Estrella.  She was open about it and they had a good dialogue.  While there I found a fantastic new practice they call “Traffic Control.”  Traffic control occurs I believe every three and a half hours.  It is only a 5 or 10 minute period of meditation where you just stop talking.  That’s it… pretty simple.  Although it will take a few months or years to fit this into my life, It is going to be the first practice I am consciously choosing to bring into my life.

Wrapping up our trip from Maputo and still a bit enlightened from our experience with Brahma Komari, I wanted to visit an old fort turned into a museum.  The fort was built when the Portuguese first arrived, and was used as the beachhead  to establish the Portuguese traders in Mozambique.  Sadly the museum didn’t come with a tour guide, and it didn’t come in English.  Perhaps someday I can view the pictures I took and translate the meaning.  Not knowing the language however made the visual presentation of some art that much more impactful.  Two large bronze reliefs depicted the slaughtering of the natives at the canons of the Portuguese.  The fort housed dozens of canons, both large and small.  There was a Portuguese machine gun, and some other antipersonnel weaponry.  The fort was good for a few minutes, but wasn’t able to captivate us into staying a long time.

Not long after we left the fort we made a great deal with a street vendor to buy some batiks, and after that I got a good deal on music and cashews.  A trip to the bus rank found us on our way home.  The chappa wasn’t packed tightly this time, and it kindly drove us all the way to the border post.  It was a fantastic trip and packed with fantastic people, beaches, and food.  My original Plan B in life was to become a pirate, but now I think a house in Mozambique will have to come first.