Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Yellow Bus Was Calling Us

This week I am in the midst of planning what will be my despedida, or going away party for the non-portuguese speakers, tomorrow night. It is a strange experience for me, preparing to leave this city that has become so familiar over the past year and a half. However, in the preparation for Friday’s party, it occurred to me that I had inexcusably neglected to post up pictures about the infamous “Yellow Bus” incident that happened last December just before I went home to Canada for Christmas.

The event was originally meant to be the combined despedida for my good friends Dan, Geoff, Sofia, Tina and myself, back when I had thought that I would be leaving Mozambique by the end of December. We wanted to go out with a bang and so we decided to rent the Yellow MCEL Double Decker Party Bus and packed it with our closest friends for a joy ride around Maputo. We loaded up with booze, heavy stereo equipment, tacky hawaian shirts and tons of good spirit to ensure that the bus would bounce along for the duration of the afternoon.

Starting off at the Parque de Continuadores, we set off for a high profile cruise along Julius Neyere, the 24th of July, the Baixa, the Marginal all the way to Costa do Sol and finally ending up somewhere between Mao Tse Tung and a random German guy’s party. Maputo is well known for its wide boulevards with beautiful purple and red jacaranda and flamboyant trees. However, only when dancing around like fools on the top of a bus did we discover how dangerous these trees really were, as a few of the revelers came away from the bus tour with tree branch sized welts on their heads. Despite the risk of injury, we all had a riot playing street limbo while singing along to Mozambican popstars.

A huge crowd of Expats riding around on the top of a double decker party bus amongst Saturday afternoon traffic in Maputo certainly seemed to be a brazen display of affluent hedonism. This was particularly evident when the bus stopped at the beach at Costa do Sol and we were instantaneously surrounded by a huge crowd of gawking Mozambicans. We bought more drinks, we bought more trinkets, we took more pictures then we all got back on our bus and continued on down the road. Someone even put on Bob Dylan’s “Mozambique,” and as we bumbled our way through the catchy riffs and sunny lyrics we could not have thought of a more appropriate song for the moment.

As for my friends that have left us here in Maputo for other foreign lands, each one of you are missed in your own special way. Our paths have crossed and who knows when they will cross again. Seperado mas juntos, e verdade?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

From Maputo to Waterloo

Perhaps a few of you may have already heard the news through the world wide grape vine, but I thought I would nonetheless share with you this latest development in my life. I have accepted a job with MEDA, the organization I currently work for here in Mozambique, at their head offices in Waterloo, Canada. My new position will be as Microfinance Coordinator and I will be working alongside other MEDA employees on overseeing the many international long term microfinance projects that MEDA currently has throughout the developing world. I will also be kept quite busy writing new project proposals and investigating new programming opportunities for MEDA in microfinance as well as in the important cross cutting areas of HIV/AIDS and Youth services.

I am quite excited about this new opportunity and honoured that MEDA has selected me for this position. This will allow me to become involved more in MEDA’s “big picture” development strategy, continuing to provide me with the chance to work in an environment where I am able to combine my academic interests with my spiritual convictions. I am also excited about some of the travel and research opportunities that I will have through this new position as I am anxious to explore new destinations and areas of work. I also am looking forward to working directly with some of the exceptional MEDA “veterans” that I have had the chance to meet and share stories with while here in the field in Mozambique.

Of course, transitional stages do not come with out their fair share of mixed emotions. This opportunity came up very quickly for me and I will be leaving Mozambique, my home for the better part of the past year and a half, in just over two weeks time. I love the community here in Maputo and the life that I have made here in Africa and I know that it will be difficult to adjust back to the surroundings and the pace of life in Canada. There are also many things that I would to do before I go but will likely have to wait until the next time I am in this part of the world.

So for those of you good folks in Winnipeg, I should be home from March 1st to the 4th preparing my things then driving my car out to my new home in Waterloo. It would be great to see as many of you as possible so let’s keep in touch!!