Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Beautiful Beginnings and Unfortunate Ends

Well the week and a half spent up in Central Mozambique was definitely a challenging and eventful experience for me. I’ve decided to begin by telling you about Chimoio, the city where I began and ended my journey. Chimoio is the provincial capital of Manica and is a pleasant little country town settled against the backdrop of the Chimanimani and Penha Longa Mountains. These scenic mountains provide a natural boundary between Mozambique and neighbouring Zimbabwe. The tree lined streets and public parks were kept surprisingly clean and there was a distinct tranquility in the air that reminded me of a small town in the Canadian Prairies.

My colleague Cremildo and I arrived early on Sunday morning and I was able to spend the day with my old friend Rachel from Maputo. Rachel is a British girl working for Voluntary Services Overseas and has been stationed in Chimoio since December. Despite The serenity of her surroundings, work has been difficult for Rachel as she has effectively been put in charge of an entire youth community development project, focusing especially on HIV/AIDS activism among teenagers in surrounding area. Visits from friends are a much welcome break from her rewarding but immensely stress filled posting.

Rachel and I decided that the best way to raise our spirits on a Sunday afternoon was to climb the Cabeça de Velha (old man’s face) a “mountain” on the outskirts of town. The spot is actually considered sacred to many of the local Shona people as many pilgrims can be found atop the old man’s nose reading passages or deep in meditation. Cremildo had a rather important economics exam the following weekend but I was able to pry his nose out of the books for a few hours to make the trip (Even though I caught him pouring over a few pages at the top!!). We spent a nice time at the top enjoying the views, watching the birds and soaking in the late afternoon sun as it painted the countryside and the rock with rich golden colours. We each walked away from the mountain rejuvenated a ready for the week ahead

I was able to explore more of this beautiful countryside on my return to Chimoio the following weekend. I met up with some Zimbabweans who worked on a horse farm about 40 Km from the Moz-Zim border. We ended up going on a four hour ride around their farm on the Sunday afternoon, passing rivers, lakes and many local villagers. It had been about four years since I had ridden a horse and I had to work to keep up with my two Zim friends. Needless to say, my ass and legs were bloody sore afterwards but it was well worth it. Experiencing rural Africa on horseback is truly something special.

Unfortunately, after my memorable ride, the nausea that had plagued me the previous evening in Beira and the throughout the three hour ride to that mourning to Chimoio returned with a vengeance. What had began on Saturday as just a painful stomach ache, had now escalated to a rising fever, throbbing head ache, lack of appetite and pains in my lower back. In this part of the world that can only mean one thing: Malaria. That’s right, I had come down with that “other” wretched African disease that still to this day kills more people in Mozambique each year than HIV/AIDS.

I was taken to a Zimbabwean party that night and the whole room seemed to take turns talking to me about malaria and what I should do to beat the damn thing out of my system before it takes too much of a hold on my liver, brain, heart and kidneys. Since all of them had had malaria numerous times throughout their lives, they advised me to begin treatment immediately that night before going to the doctor in the morning. I ended up taking Artesunate, which is a Chinese herbal remedy that is quite popular for its immediate results and few negative side effects.

The following morning’s trip to the doctor’s office confirmed what had already been obvious the night before. However, the strain of malaria that I had was light and I had gone on the treatment quite early so I have recovered quite well. Still, I was bummed that I had to spend my two days vacation cooped up in my hostel watching DVDs instead of trekking through the mountains. You really don’t want to mess around with malaria though and I actually ended up thoroughly appreciating my two days of relaxation, despite feeling stiff like an old man and running to the loo on a regular basis. Ah malaria, I guess it is just part of the grand ol African experience!!


Anonymous Neville said...

Hey man, all you need is a pair of good cowboy boots, and a guitar, and you'll be Honky Tonkin just fine.
Over and out.

10:13 p.m.  
Anonymous JR said...

No kidding...that horseback picture has to be the album cover when your debut record comes out.

10:48 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

or big city queer art

11:34 a.m.  
Blogger Ancient Clown said...

I hope to skip that experience if passing through there. Perhaps if you have a moment you could visit and add your flag to my counter.
Picture, Poems, Philosophy, etc.
your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

2:41 p.m.  
Blogger Big Roddy said...

Yeah man! Why don't I see a big cigar in that cowboy look? It'd complete the picture!

4:29 p.m.  
Anonymous Mom said...

He has malaria!! Who gives a rat's patoot what he looks like on a horse.

8:39 a.m.  

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