Saturday, December 17, 2005

Viruses, Interviews and Wedding Bells

Forgive me for neglecting to update this blog but this past week I had a big part of my life literally come crashing down around me. A nasty computer virus that I had picked up in Ottawa, and never really got rid of from my hard drive, finally unleashed its full wrath and brought down my computer. Of course, being the computer illiterate idiot that I am, I did not have a back up of my files and am now facing the very real possibility of losing three months worth of work. Please keep my computer in your thoughts this week as it continues to go under the knife to retrieve these files from my damaged hard drive.

In more exciting news, I had another excellent three days in the field with Narcisso last week. Him and I set off for Xai Xai (pronounced shy shy), Chokwe and Manhiça to work with an MFI called FCC. It was three straight days of intensive interviews with staff members and clients and we really benefited from the information we received. This was also my first experience conducting a group discussion with about 30 clients, all seated on the floor clutching tightly to their little loan account books. We also spent some good time visiting clients at their businesses in the marketplace, cherishing every inch of shade that we could find from the scorching heat that reached 41 degrees Celcius in Chokwe. It is absolutely amazing how such intense heat like that just sucks all of the energy out of you.

Narcisso and I were also fortunate enough to find a place to stay at the beautiful Bilene Beach for two nights, conveniently located in between the three towns in which we were working. I think one of the definitions of the good life is waking up in the morning, going swimming in the warm Indian Ocean, spending the day speaking with people about an issue you’re passionate about and then relaxing in the evening to the rhythmic calling of the sea. It doesn’t get much better than that in my books.

Then the big event last weekend was the wedding of our empregada’s sister. We were quite honoured to receive an invitation to experience a Mozambican wedding. My friend Rebecca had somehow, in her insanely busy schedule, volunteered to bake six cakes for the wedding. Of course she was panicking at the end and so there we were, in our Sunday best, frantically icing and decorating the cakes before the big party started. The temperature that afternoon was well above 30 degrees and we all cramped into the back of a pick up truck to head to the wedding. TO our incredible dismay we watched as the icing on our precious creations began to melt and crumble before our very eyes. Then to top it all off we passed by this huge pile of burning garbage which sprinkled the cakes with a good coating of ash. It couldn’t help but compare the whole scene to the cake incident in American Wedding. They still served the cakes though and nobody seemed to mind the taste.

The wedding was actually a two day affair with tons of eating, dancing, singing and drinking. There is a wonderful tradition in Shangana weddings where all the guests have to present their gifts to the newly weds through song and dance, blessing the new couple as they start their new life together. Cathy, Rebecca and I, of course, were not spared from this tradition. With help from some the other guests we paraded our gifts up the head table, belting out the tunes and doing our best to keep up with frantic dancing. As the only mulungus in attendance, we got quite the energetic response from the crowd. I would love to show you all pictures but, alas, this will have to wait until my computer is released from the emergency room.


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10:31 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I enjoy reading Jared's blog. Go advertise somewhere else.

12:03 a.m.  
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one needs to be very very stupid to spam in a place like here... some kind of nasty capitalistic behavior for... stock market!
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Anonymous Jake Peters said...

I get the feeling that the "mission at Tip Top Equities" might be far removed from the "mission of MEDA." Let's hear it for MEDA!
Merry Christmas, Jared! Folks back home support your efforts in helping people who need it.

3:03 p.m.  
Anonymous Tyler said...

Merry Christmas Jared.

10:27 p.m.  
Anonymous erin s said...

Aahhhh......Christmas at the wine store! Very busy, but things are going pretty well. Hope you are having fun celebrating the holidays abroad!! Merry Christmas!!

10:27 p.m.  
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