Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Parents in Paradise

After having their only son living on the other side of the world for the past year, my mother and father finally made it over to Mozambique to visit and see the country that I have described so glowingly in emails, blogs and long distance phone calls. This was my mother’s first experience in Africa and, despite her persistent fears about security, food poisoning and encounters with dangerous animals, she has successfully navigated her way through her African adventure in full stride.

After spending a week with some friends in Kenya, they arrived in Maputo and immediately were initiated into the Mozambican experience by having a drink in the local baraca and a seafood meal by the sea. We followed this up the next day by sampling some Mozambican food, complete with matapa, Zambezian chicken and goat curry and then a visit to Africa Bar, one of the hottest music clubs in town despite the cheesy name. They thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance, my father being particularly impressed with the boisterous band and the countless attractive Mozabicanas buzzing around the place. My friends thought it was strange that my parents would be game for such an intense night out on the town but it is something that I have come to expect, and love, about my mom and dad during our 26 years together.

We then took off to the idyllic Bazaruto Archipelago, a series of four tropical islands off the coast of Inhanbane province in the central region of the country. I have dreamed of visiting these islands the whole time I have been here and my anticipation was well justified as we caught our first glimpses of the pure white sand and turquoise water from the window of our plane. We stayed in a quant little town of Vilankulos in a thatched A-Frame hut just a stones throw from the ocean. We had originally wanted to stay at one of the resorts on the islands themselves but it is impossible to find accommodation for less than $300 US per person, per night!!! Paradise doesn’t come cheap I can tell you that.

We elected instead to use our holiday money to explore the islands by boat from the mainland. We took a snorkeling trip to Bazaruto Island and spent the day climbing the giant sand dunes, swimming in the secluded bay and snorkeling at the two-mile reef. The visibility underwater was stunning and we were able to see so many different types of fish and corals of all colours and sizes. I thought I had covered myself well with sunscreen but discovered that night that I had neglected a long streak along the front of my chest, leaving me with a rather ridiculous looking burn the next morning.

The next day we rented our own boat and took off to Santa Carolina Island, or more appropriately named “Paradise Island” by the Portuguese tourists back in the 50s and 60s. It certainly lived up to the hype as we spent the morning exploring coral reefs and deserted beaches before climbing back into our boat to make it to the Benguerra Island Resort in time for lunch. We spent the rest of the day visiting some of the local communities on the island and relaxing in the late afternoon shade.

The next day we were scheduled to leave but our flight was cancelled so we were forced to stay another day in our beautiful surroundings. Initially I was upset, as I knew that I had a mountain of emails to deal with at the office and colleagues expecting my return but a cold beer overlooking the ocean soon washed all of those concerns. When would I get a chance to be stranded with my parents in a tropical paradise again? We celebrated our blessings that night with another bottle of wine and a wonderful seafood platter.

The following weekend we packed up the car and took the Penner circus on the road to Kruger Park. My parents were shocked at the differences one sees when crossing the border from Mozambique to South Africa. Desolate hills and simple reed huts quickly turn into stately homes and lush irrigated commercial farmlands. We rented a car from Maputo and cruised around the park looking for the Big Five (ah safari in a Civic, gotta love Kruger!!). While we saw tons of elephants, Rhinos and Buffalo, we were unable to find the lions on this trip. However, we easily made up for this by seeing THREE leopard!! The third of which was perched in a tree, munching away on an impala. I couldn’t get a great picture but it was still something amazing to see!!

To put it simply, the time with my parents here in Mozambique was fantastic. We shared many great meals, laughs and adventures and were able to once again get into our family rhythm without any effort. I have always felt blessed to have such supportive and kind-hearted parents who take such a genuine interest in my work and in my friends. These past weeks only served to confirm this deeply rooted belief. Now they are off to Cape Town to finish the final leg of their African Tour. Have a great time you two and don’t forget to climb Table Mountain and get lost in a vineyard!!

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. What an adventure that must have been for your parents to visit their one and only in a far away land and lifestyle!! Good to hear you had such a great time introducing them to the culture.
Jolene

8:01 PM  
Blogger Big Roddy said...

Sounded like your folks had fun Jared! By the way:
"...THREE leopard!! The third of which was perched in a tree, munching away on an impala. "

How did they get the car up in the tree?

Looking forward to you comin' back...

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Pinkinha said...

Hello

What great photos and great adventure!!!!

Kisses

6:03 AM  
Blogger Shades of Blue said...

Do you ever make it to Beira?

8:29 PM  

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