Back in the UK

Boo, back in the BGS office now! Quite a packed weekend, the family waited for me on Friday morning and the children were very excited to see me. Everyone loved their gifts. I got a wire helicopter for my son which has motors which make the rotors rotate. A doll for my daughter with a photo of them being made. Didn’t do much Friday, apart from sleep and catch up on a few things, went to the end of term assembly at the school and then spent the evening with the family. Saturday had a decent lay in and then just pottered about, played some Lego Star Wars II with my son on the 360. Sunday had my Mum over for dinner and my sister and niece came over to say hello. First roast dinner for 6 weeks! Slight panic when I managed to lock up the work’s laptop I had with me in Mozambique but local support sorted it out, so all files are safely on the server here now. Just sorting through some photos to add to the blog.

Last Night

I’m sitting on the balcony at the house on my last day in Mozambique. I still have some internet access! Last night we went to the Maputo Waterfront to meet with Lina and Carlos Magaia for dinner. There was live music as there is every Wednesday. Some weeks the acts are so-so, last nights was excellent, a jazz/blues/reggae four-piece. You know when you’re sitting with somone famous when the band leave the stage to come and introduce themselves to you personally! It was a fantastic evening, Carlos got up to sing, the food was good (even if they have no idea what well-done means, I’m glad I didn’t ask for rare or my fillet might still have been mooing!), the company was superb. Lina is very famous but very down to earth, she doesn’t see herself as famous, everyone knows her, she’s on TV frequently, she writes for the newspapers etc. but she still took a doggy bag home for supper!

Then it was off to Museu for drinks, again I was driving so was off the drink. Museu is definitely better enjoyed drunk I think! Lots of VERY drunk people, loud talk and singing. The conversations get very heated at times, but the atmosphere is like nothing else I’ve experienced. I’m still staggered at the amount of alcohol put away by some of the people there and then they get in their cars to drive home. Madness!

So a late night, past midnight at Museu – but I’m still awake at 6am. The bloody mozzies have been out in force the last few nights, driving me insane. You hear so many malaria stories here though. It seems like everyone has had it or knows someone who has.

Today is destined to be a day of sitting around various places. Packed yesterday, just a few things to shove in. Very disappointed to find a couple of the gifts I had bought had grown mould in the drawer I put them in. The atmosphere in the house is quite damp at times, cross that I didn’t put them out but I never imagined they would go bad! Still, no serious damage done – a good clean and they are almost as good as new.

Things to do today, wash sheets and towels (maid was paid off yesterday), last minute packing, deliver car, get lift to airport. Wave goodbye to Maputo! Can’t wait to get home and see the family…

Last Day At The Office

An early entry today as I won’t have internet access at the house this evening. Today is my last day in DNG (Direcção Nacional de Geologia for those people with short memories) and it is just possible that the website will go live this afternoon. If it does that would be great, but I’m more interested in getting home to be honest! If it’s working then the link above will work. At least I managed to fix the backups, there hasn’t been a server backup for 4 weeks. I spent some time on the problem over the last couple of days and we had a successful backup last night. Huzzah!

Tonight we’re going out for dinner with Lina Magaia and husband, we were going to the Maputo Waterfront as they have live music on a Wednesday, but as we missed Sagres last night we might have a venue change. The food is better at Sagres and the Rock Shandies are the best I’ve tasted.

Tomorrow morning is packing and clearing up then we hand over the car and get a lift to the airport. Flight to Johannesburg leaves around 4pm and then the night flight to Heathrow. Should be back in blightly early Friday morning.

Off Colour

Had a bit of a crap day today, I woke up feeling sick and I’ve generally felt a bit off colour all day. So I was in a bit of a bad mood at work (no surprises there I hear you say!). It didn’t help that this evening we had all got worked up to go to Sagres for the last time (best restaurant in Maputo) and it was closed. We drove around in a daze for about an hour trying to decide where to go and then spent the mealtime fantasising about all the foods we want to eat when we get back to England.

Thunder again this evening, the forecast is for rain for the next couple of days. It was quite hot and oppressive earlier this evening and the mozzies have been out in force for the last couple of evenings.

Museu

Here is a brief boring bit about work. Today I demoed what I have been doing to the directors, I was expecting just the director but it turned out to be all the section heads. I made the embarrassing mistake of not recognising the deputy-director and telling him I was waiting for him to turn up before starting! Apart from that it went fine.

This evening we took Lina Magaia out for dinner, as I mentioned before she is a very famous person in Mozambique so it was going out with a celebrity. The waiters all knew who she was and fussed about a bit, but not too bad. Afterwards she took us to Museu which is a typical African area of bars, each a one room affair crowded around very narrow dark alleys, lean tos etc. There is absolutely NO way you would even consider heading down these alleys after dark without a host. We bumped into Lina’s husband and some of his friends and had a drink. I was driving so stayed off the alcohol, that didn’t stop anyone else who proceeded to get very drunk. Some singing of African songs ensued and we had the various definitions of toilet defined to us by a drunken Mozambiquan. A great way of seeing true Africa that no tourist would ever get to see. We were privileged to have been welcomed into this place, and made very welcome at that. We are probably doing it again Wednesday!!

Countdown

It’s the Final Countdown, ta da da da, da da da da da etc. This is the final working trip of this project so we are finishing with the house, car etc. Sold the car this morning, we get to keep it until Thursday though, and emptied the house of junk. Then to the beach bar for lunch followed by some last few gift purchases and grocery shopping. Then we blobbed and went for dinner at the fairground where there are numerous bars and restaurants surrounding a very small amusement park. We had a go on the dodgems, but the ferris wheel looked dead dodgy so we gave it a miss.

Completely fed up of restaurant eating now, I calculated tonight was the 38th consecutive restaurant meal. I don’t want to see another kebab, chips and salad as long as I live! We’ve worked out the last few days where we are eating! Oh and I got stopped by the police on the way home tonight, another freebie though.

Xai-Xai

After work Friday we drove the 220km to Xai-Xai – the provincial capital of Gaza province, the next province north of Maputo. We headed down to the beach resort and found chalets at the camping ground for rent. A very reasonable 850MTn (£17) for a chalet, room and bathroom. Basic but comfortable. There is very little else there apart from ruins of previous hotels and accommodation. It looks like the resort was a busy place before the war. There were a few people camping but we basically had the place to ourselves. We had several 2Ms at the beach bar with more staff than guests. We then sat at looked at the amazing night sky, with virtually no lights the sky was ablaze. Beautiful. The Magellenic clouds the best I’ve ever seen hanging over the dark ocean.

This morning we rose to look at the ocean, there is a ‘reef’ just off the shore and the power of the waves was immense. Definitely not for swimming in, it was just awesome standing and watching. We were the only people on the beach as far as the eye could see in either direction. Pure solitude with just the crashing ocean for company. Amazing.

We drove back to Xai-Xai to explore but we needn’t have bothered as there is absolutely nothing there to distract the casual visitor. We saw the Limpopo river, we drove across the Limpopo River. It did have a prison that looked like a toy castle which was quite amusing. The town was very badly hit by the floods in 2000 and was under 3m of water and the road to Maputo was washed away but apart from the new causeway across the valley there is no other visible reminders. So we drove back to Maputo. There is an amazing straight section of road soon after Xai-Xai that is dead straight for at least 20km and it stretches off into the distance into mirages.

A good trip, if tiring. Xai-Xai was a disappointing town to visit, the beach would be perfect for a getaway though.

Last Week

So I enter my final week in Mozambique. It has gone so fast but it feels like I’ve been here ages. Bilene seems like months ago, not just a few weeks. Quite a bit to fit in the final few days, we’re still going to try for Xai Xai this weekend but probably come back Saturday evening to give us Sunday to do some things around the house that need doing.

And we have a domain at last! The University have done their bit and the nameservers are set up, need to go to the GovNet people tomorrow to get FTP access and a folder setup, hopefully a MySQL database as well. It’s a bit last minute, but if I can get this done before I leave then I’ll be able to access the space from the UK as well.

Weather has been really pleasant since the rainy day, warm and sunny and the air is very clear and not humid at all. Getting a great sequence of photos of Mercury and Jupiter approaching conjunction, sadly I will miss the climax as they are closest together after I leave and they will be too low from the UK to see well.

Incommunicado

Been having a few technical problems over the last couple of days. I’m sure the whole of Mozambique’s internet traffic goes down one ADSL line! Anyway, finally bought the .mz domain, it isn’t active yet but hopefully it will be ready for when I have to demonstrate what I’ve been doing to the Director of DNG on Monday.

Yesterday was by far the worst day weather wise since I’ve been here. It was cold, wet and windy all day. Temperature was mid-teens, thoroughly miserable. Today was much nicer and not too hot.

Looking forward to finishing now and seeing the family, I’m still really enjoying it and we might go for a weekend trip to Xai Xai. I’m fantasising about ice cold fresh milk and decent breakfast cereal, I’m really struggling with the UHT muck and South African Kellogg’s cereal which is not a patch on the UK versions.

Got stopped by the police again this evening, but this time it didn’t cost me anything, they were very pleased to see I had an International driving licence. He gave me a lovely salute and wished me a pleasant sleep, all this while carrying an assault rifle!