Dusty bumpy roads just make me tired. It doesn’t help that I was forced to speak Portuguese all day on my second day of work. When I get tired I like to have a translator on hand to help me out. Maybe I’m lazy, but when I’ve just arrived and haven’t spoken a word of Portuguese in two years it minimizes the chance of total confusion. Today my translators only spoke Portuguese. I had no choice. I had to speak. Sometimes we were confused. I am exhausted.
This time around it seems I’ve forgotten more than usual. My mouth struggles to form the words. I stutter and laugh. It makes me think just how much do we forget in our lives? Where we are from? Where we went to school? Our parents? This week I heard a story of a man who forgot all those things. The people say such persons emerged from the belly of a dead man bewitched during the war. It seems it is how they explain refugees, new immigrants or those who just move to a new place. More and more people are moving for employment here in Mozambique. So many people seem to be from someplace else.
Luckily the farmers stay put. And they are learning. After a three year absence from Manica province I’m surprised by some changes. Many of the farmers have cell phones and many have contracted with Vanduzi Company, a large vegetable exporter.
They are used to foreign consultants. One group of associations has even received World Bank project funding to line their irrigation channel with cement. The roads have improved, brick houses are being built and I found strawberries for sale at a roadside stand produced by either a man from Zimbabwe or the United States depending on who you asked. Later I found much better strawberries in the Manica market where I was told they were organic or at least grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizer and that is why they tasted so much better than the ones I had purchased on the EN6. In fact, several people repeated this to me over the course of my stay. It seems this is an opportunity to promote organic production techniques. I can’t wait to start using this example during my training seminars. I suspect, however, that most of the farmers have never eaten strawberries.
I haven’t forgotten how things were just three and a half years ago. I can also still find the markets in Chimoio and Manica. I’m encouraged as the farmers in the Belas Associations seem like they won’t forget anything I say.
And, luckily I don’t seem to forget about vegetables- just how to talk about them in Portuguese.