Category Archives: Maps

Where is my hammock?

The scene is too perfect-even at the end of the dry season. Bird calls in the morning, frogs singing at night. I long for my hammock which is hanging empty in my backyard in Madiso. Somehow this time I’ve gotten lucky. I’m staying in a resort called Casa Mskia that caters to mainly to fisherman from South Africa and Zimbabwe. Travelers also use it as a rest stop as they travel through southern Africa often arriving no later than 5 pm and departing as soon as it is light- no later than 6 am.

My imagination runs wild with ways to improve the quality of accommodation and food. It has the potential to be an incredibly beautiful yet simple place, but the clients are here for the fishing, not the accommodation and atmosphere. I do, however, decide to water the plants outside my door everyday.

Originally the resort was a crocodile farm and sold both the meat and hides for a good profit. In more recent times it has become a small reserve that includes an animal rehabilitation program. The managers’ daughters were carrying two baby gazelles in a basket both around a month old. On my Sunday off I went for a two hour walk around the reserve in search of giraffes. Apparently, the day before they had been close to the main lodge. However, after fifteen minutes of walking it was clear they had moved.

After spotting track and scat from zebras, wildebeast, impala, mongoose, serval and even feral cat, we found the giraffe tracks. Finally I saw my first wild giraffe. The four are still quite young and haven’t yet reproduced and were brought here from South Africa on 8 October 2010.

Clemente and I spent quite a bit of time watching and photographing them. Later they watched us as we stood and talked.

Casa Msika is located on the Revue River which feeds into the lake created by the Chicamba dam built in 1968 and is only 5k from the main highway between Chimoio and Manica.

This dry season the lake is at an all time low after two years of drought and due to the fact that the dam has recently been releasing water in to the blank river that flows towards Chimoio and eventually the Indian Ocean. The managers explained that by December the lake will be as high as the main lodge and boats will be tied to the rail outside of the small house where I am staying. I can only imagine how gorgeously green it will be. Spring arrived with the rain last night.

As usual I have plenty of time to spare and can often be found sitting on my stoop reading, gazing at the scenery or observing people going about their daily routine.

Cats keep me company.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hammock- the perfect combination of work and relaxation. But I wonder if they even have hammocks here- perhaps in the surfing resorts around Vincolos- perhaps I should start a hammock making business. I can only imagine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Maps, Mozambique 2012, Tourism, Uncategorized

On my way to Huambo, Angola

Tonight I’m on may way to Angola for another assignment with CNFA and USAID’s Farmer to Farmer Program. This time I’ll be training farmers in vegetable production techniques. I’m looking forward to actually demonstrating tomato trellising, mulching and crop rotation and teaching about soil health and organic production. Emilio, from CNFA-Mozambique has provided me with some wonderful materials that include plenty of photos and text in Portuguese. These materials will make my job so much easier! I’ll be based in Huambo, to the south west of the capital, Luanda. Huambo, the second largest city in Angola, is over 5,000 feet high so the days will be quite hot and the nights cool.

For those of you who don’t know Angola, like Mozambique, is a former Portuguese colony, gained independence in 1975 and suffered through a civil war. Unlike Mozambique the war lasted ten more years, until 2002. Like Mozambique, Angola was a net exporter of agricultural products prior to independence and civil war. However, these days an entire generation has lost significant knowledge of agricultural production due to the war and the inability to produce during this time.  Yet nearly a third of the population depends on subsistence agricultural for survival. Unlike Mozambique, Angola is the second largest producer of petroleum on the African continent. Diamond mining also plays a significant role in the economy. In fact, these two industries account for nearly all Angolan exports and more than 50 percent of GNP. These industries tend to significantly skew the economy and I’ve been warned not to be shocked by outrageous hotel and restaurant meal pricing.


Angolan Flag


I’m looking forward to seeing a new part of the world, yet being able to build on all I’ve learned in Mozambique over the years. Many people have asked me if Angolan Portuguese is like Mozambican Portuguese and well the answer is “I’ll find out”. While in Mozambique in September I listened to quite of a bit of popular Angolan music while driving along bumpy dusty roads. Hopefully, I’ll get to hear some more in what appears to be a thriving music scene. Look for my next post from Luanda late on Wednesday or early on Thursday.

1 Comment

Filed under Angola 2010, Maps

New assignment in Mozambique

September 9 I will travel to Mozambique for the fourth time. I will once again be working along the Beira Corridor and be based in Chimoio. It looks like I’ll  get to travel to Manica near the Zimbabwe border and to Gondola back in the direction of Beira fairly frequently to visit the production areas. This trip I will be working with two agricultural associations, Macate and Mahene,  on their marketing plans for processed food products. As during my last trip I spent so much time talking about the potential of processed food products and spent much of my time in Mexico bemoaning the loss of Sapotes rotting on the ground I’m excited to see where this project can go. I;m curious to see what if any products they have developed, hoping reconnect with and visit the processed fruit project at Gorongosa, and see how much spending three months in Mexico has screwed up my Portuguese.

I’ve also promised my friend Stephanie not to write  about Africa, the way so many others have done, as brillently described in the article from Granta, How to Write About Africa. Please pardon me in advance if I do write about the view or the sunrise/sunset if I finally get to climb Cabeça do Velho, which according to the article Who Will Save  Cabeça do Velho? in Moçambique Magazine, is slowly being destroyed by people mining rock from its face. As this article was published in 2005 I’ll have to find out if the local government has managed to stop or at least curb this practice. If you would like to have a tour of the town of Chimoio see this You Tube video. However, be warned Cabeça do Velho only makes an appearance at the beginning despite its billing in the title of the video. I’ll do my best to get photos of it this trip and of course post them here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Maps, Mozambique 2010, Uncategorized

Preparing to return

In twelve days I leave for Mozambique to work as a volunteer for Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs Farmer-to-Farmer Program.  I’m excited to see the country after so many years of peace.   In 1994 I was an election monitor for Mozambique’s first multi-party elections and was based in Pemba, Cabo Delgado.  In 1990, I worked on an urban agro-forestry project in Matola Rio just outside of the capital Maputo.  At this time I also traveled to Quelimane and saw some of Zambezia province. mozambique_map_cities2

This time I’ll be based in Sofala and Manica provinces, places I’ve never been.   When I first learned I had been chosen for this assignment I was hoping to track down old friends and colleagues in Maputo and was disappointed that I would not even spend a day there.   However, when I learned that the current average life expectancy is 42 I decided it was just as well that I wouldn’t be able to look for old friends.

Earlier this week I bought a Lonely Planet travel guide to Mozambique.  To me it seems strange, but wonderful that a travel guide even exists!  If I can find some free time I’m hoping to see Gorongosa National Park.  In 1990 it was completely impossible to travel there as RENAMO had its headquarters in the area.  In Chimoio, where I’ll be spending the majority of my assignment,  I’ll be able to see Cabeca do Velho, a large rock formation that looks like an old man.  I had forgotten that in 1994 I brought friends t-shirts featuring a picture of The Old Man of the Mountain in New Hampshire and everyone mentioned a similar formation in Chimoio.  Unfortunately I will never again see the Old Man in New Hampshire as he fell down in 2003, but I am looking forward to meeting Cabeca do Velho.


Filed under Maps, Mozambique 2009