Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Gold Point

I have to admit, my internship is pretty sweet these days. On Sunday I got the chance to tag along with my boss’s family to Ponto D’ouro, a beautiful beach town at the southern tip of Mozambique by the South African border. Male Yeru has a branch of about 100 clients at Ponto D’ouro so I jumped at the opportunity to spend a day vacationing and two days interviewing clients and the staff at the branch. We set off from Maputo on Sunday morning, bright eyed and ready for three days in paradise. We quickly discovered, however, that getting to Ponto D’ouro would take almost everything we had. Rural roads in Mozambique are pretty awful but the road from Maputo to Ponto D’ouro is absolutely ridiculous. 75 kilometers of soft sand, ready to suck up any travelers without a sufficient 4X4.

We got about halfway before Pierre got stuck bad, our tires spinning helplessly as our underbelly was hung up between two deep ruts. We tried every maneuver for about 45 minutes before the panic began to sink in about our desperate situation. Here we were in the beating sun, 40 kilometers away from civilization with no car jack, very little water, next to no shade and with a crying four month old baby. Things were not looking good at all. Luckily a truck eventually pulled up and graciously offered to tow us out of our predicament. The passengers in the back of the truck had polished off a good number of Laurentina’s that day but were eager to help us out. We thanked our wilderness saviours and continued on our way.

Ponto D’ouro is every bit as spectacular as I had imagined. Bright blue water, clean white sand and big crashing waves. We rented a little cabin by the beach and spent the rest of the day frolicking like little kids in the warm Indian Ocean and sampling the fresh fish, prawns and calamari. The next morning I got up early and did a hike around the point, which opened up onto another picturesque bay with an infinite stretch of breathtaking coastline. It reminded me very much of my time on the spectacular Oregon Coast.

I then spent the rest of the day with Henrique and Antonio, the two staff members at Male Yeru’s branch in Ponto D’ouro. We hiked around the touristy but quaint village interviewing clients and observing their businesses. Henrique and Antonio spoke very little English and the clients spoke Shangan with very little Portuguese so I had some difficulty getting all of the information. I was impressed with the amount I was able to comprehend though and it is amazing how much communication you can do with pictures and hand gestures. It was interesting to see that HIV/AIDS hasn’t really had much of an impact on Ponto D’ouro and as a result the people there were rather indifferent to my questions about the disease. We did visit one client whose emaciated look and stories of her dead husband led me to believe that she was infected. These are her children along with two others from her sister who was “sick in the head” and could no longer take care of them. All in all it was a wonderful day in the field, capped off by a cold beer and bath in the ocean.

We were planning on doing some deep sea ocean fishing the next morning but I must have eaten some bad fish the night before and fell terribly ill during the middle of the night. I spent the next 5-6 hours sitting on the toilet experiencing the worst food poisoning of my life. Needless to say, I was in no shape to join the boys on the boat the next morning as I laid low in the shade and cursed that piece of bad fish that seemingly brought me to death’s door the night before. Not even the soothing sounds of the crashing waves could calm the rumbling storm in my stomach. Actually, if you’re going to get food poisoning, there’s probably not a better environment for it to happen. I’m sure I’m not getting much sympathy from my friends and family back home are preparing for a long cold winter while I’m “working” on the beaches of Mozambique.


Anonymous Neville said...

ya man it's cold. It's really cold. full blown winter. So excuse me if laying on a beach while nursing a bit of gas, doesn't get you any sympathy.

Anyway yer still kickin.

Stay Hard.

6:15 p.m.  
Blogger Elise said...

God bless you.

10:22 a.m.  
Anonymous Mom said...

A little bit of heaven and a little bit of hell. Glad to hear you're all right.

By the way - who's Elise??

9:12 p.m.  
Blogger Big Roddy said...

I don't think it's all that cold Neville. This isn't even the worst of it yet. And when it comes down bad, I'll be waitin' for when it gets worse...

Good to hear you're doing ok amigo!

Uh, yeah, who is Elise?

6:00 p.m.  
Blogger lingamish said...

Hi Jared,

I think somebody told me about you in Mozambique. We live in Tete when we're not trying to escape the heat somewhere else. I'm putting together a blog about Bible translation, living as a mish, etc. My family goes to Albany 1st. Maybe you know my sis Joni. Any of this ring a bell?!?

Ate logo!

David Ker

12:19 p.m.  
Anonymous Reyn said...

I feel your pain, and it could be worse. Now just imagine that over an eighteen hour train ride across India, it's harder to keep your balance. Anyways it seems like you may have a couple of stories to tell, which is important.
Keep on truckin.

10:16 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jared! Thank you for the good time in Ponta D'Ouro. It was short, but it was cool. Too bad for the fishing but we'll get other occasions, incha'allah.
Take care and don't forget, "soyons fous"!

3:22 a.m.  
Anonymous Chas S said...

Jared, good to read about your adventures. In Wpg New Years was much more modest and recerved. You should try to pick up some info on the elections--you'd laugh at the speeches and platforms. They're both silly and sad at the same time.

Harper just said that the judiciary would keep his party in check if they were elected--implying that they were not only not independent but also somehow still under the influence of the Liberal Party.

Your experience living in Moz is fascinating; i'll wait for the next instalment.


8:54 p.m.  

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