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The Last Days In Mozambique

May 1, 2012

For those who don’t know already, I’m back in Portugal. My original intention was to stay in Lichinga for 12 months, but, as my grandparents were celebrating their 50th marriage anniversary on April 23rd, I decided to go back earlier and surprise them. But, before talking about that surprise, I’m writing about the last days I spent in Mozambique.

After giving the clothes to the kids in the kindergarten and to the orphan girls at the Monastery, we entered the Easter week. Catarina and I went to the foot-washing celebration on the Holy Thursday, on Friday we had the Way of the Cross and on Sunday morning we went to the Easter celebration. Our Easter lunch was quite different than I’m used to: we had pizza and roast chicken with fries on the table, instead of pig and goat.

During that week I kept on working in the secretariat, preparing the next magazine, and at the kindergarten, organizing the files.

On Friday, April 13th, Catarina and I went to the dorothean’s house to help them peel potatoes for the prisoners’ Easter lunch, which was happening on the next day. The other girls, Catarina and Patrícia, also went there to help:

So, on the next day, we went to the prison, to attend to the Easter’s celebration, since we couldn’t be in the lunch. Here it is a picture of the prisoners, during the celebration:

The visit to the prison was very touching, because the prisoners there are very hungry, a lot of them have got AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis… it’s really impressive. Some of them have finished their sentence, but they don’t even know and also nobody tells them, so they keep on being there unfairly. Not to mention that the conditions are very poor.

On April 15th, the last Sunday I would spend in Mozambique, Catarina, Zé, Ana and I went to the Lake Niassa (also known as Lake Malawi). I intended to bathe in the lake, but it was really windy, making the temperature a little unpleasant. So we simply stayed there, sunbathing.

Here it is a picture of the lake’s landscape:

A picture of a really peculiar baobab:

A picture of me in the lake, taken by Catarina:

And another one of the two of us:

Then we had lunch (they ate fish and I ate roast chicken) and Catarina took a picture of me, Ana and Zé, while we were sitting at the table:

We asked them if they had coffee and they said yes, so Catarina and Ana asked for two coffees. A few minutes later the waiter comes back and says that the coffee was inside of the storage and that the man who had the key was not there at that moment, but that they had already called him and he was on his way with the key, so the coffee was also on its way. In the meantime he brought the teacups, the teapot with water and the sugar:

Later on the waiter came back saying that they didn’t have any coffee after all! This made us all laugh (and leave).

Our visit to the lake finished big time: even the baboons and monkeys came to say goodbye to me! An entire baboon family crossed the road right when we were driving through. In this picture I caught one of them, because they only came one at a time:

We also caught some little monkeys eating by the edge of the road:

On Tuesday, April 17th, the three Catarinas and Patrícia went to the Chiuaula’s market, the biggest one in Lichinga, at least that I know of. Here are a few pictures of clothes, shoes and plastic bags exposed in the market:

On Wednesday morning I went to the kindergarten, so that I could say goodbye to the monitors and the cooks. And to the children too, of course. Then I had lunch with the teresian sisters, but only with sister Maria José and sister Tecla, since sister Carolina was in Maputo taking care of her passport and sister Juliana was in Marrupa (I guess). They got me a bowl and a box made of blackwood, which I really liked and they’re already in my room.

Then I went to the dorothean sister’s house, so that I could wish sister Ferreira a happy birthday, because it was her 82nd anniversary that day. Sister Lourdes also gave me a bracelet made of blackwood, which I also have saved next to the other pieces the other sisters gave me. I had tea there with the dorothean sisters, Catarina, Ana and Zé and we ate sister Ferreira’s strawberries, which are very very good. So Wednesday was a really busy day for me, since I spent most of the time away from home; good thing I had already packed my stuff!

On Thursday morning I said goodbye to everyone in the house (Aíde, Rosa; I said goodbye to Meni the day before, because he was on holidays) and then, to the airport with me, came brother José, sister Maria José, Catarina, Ana and Zé. I had already said goodbye to Dom Elio on Saturday, because he went to Maputo on that day (I ended up meeting him there again, when I was there). While we were at the airport waiting for the time to board, sister Ferreira came by with a bowl of strawberries for me. It was an unexpected and touching moment, because I didn’t think an 82 year-old lady would go to the airport just to bring me the best strawberries in the world. It was a beautiful moment.

I arrived in Maputo and father Ruffini picked me up at the airport. I started feeling a little bit constipated and tired, so I had to go home and rest for a bit.

On the next day (April 20th) I woke up at 6 a.m. to go with father Abel to the seminar, to the Episcopal meeting, where Dom Elio was at and where a celebration was happening at 8 a.m. I took the chance to say one last goodbye to Dom Elio, even though I wasn’t feeling that well: I had a cold and felt that I had a fever.

Before arriving to the seminar, father Abel took me to the dehonians’ house in Matola. There was a chapel there which had a very beautiful painting:

Then we went to the seminar, where I spent a little time talking with Dom Elio and then we went to the celebration. I took the chance to take on last picture with the Bishop of Lichinga:

When I got home I had lunch right away and then went to bed, because, even though I had taken a pill, I wasn’t feeling very well. I was always checking my fever and it was always rising. I also started feeling week and started trembling, so I called sister Aila, who told me I had malarya. I thought “nice shot, a day before catching the plane to leave!”. She prescribed me a few pills and then I went to the pharmacy with father Abel to buy them. I got back home and the fever reached the 39,5ºC and I was still trembling and weak. I took the pills right away and put a wet towel in my head. By dinner time I was already feeling better, but then I got worse again. I had a tough night, that night. I don’t know how, but on the next day I woke up feeling a lot better (even though I was still very weak); it must have been the will to go back home, even though I was already missing Mozambique, without having left.

In the morning I went to some sisters’ hospital (I can’t remember their congregation, but they were spanish), to take the malarya test. It was sister Estrela who did me the test. The result was negative, because I was already taking the pills to cure myself, so it was almost impossible to get a positive result.

A friend of Catarina’s, Orlanda, was really nice and came to visit me before I left to the airport. I really liked meeting her and talking to her, even if it was just for 15 minutes. It was really good.

I said goodbye to the dehonian fathers and then father Ruffini took me to the airport. There I had problems with my hand luggage, because it was too heavy, and with my checked luggage, because I had things made of blackwood there. I was called to say what I had in my bag right away and then the workers started asking me out for coffee. I said I had to leave and then I had to pay them 100 meticais (around 2,70 euros) so that they would give me my passport back and let me leave. They did and then I went to the airplane.

The journey was too long, because the flight from Maputo to Johannesburg only took one hour, but then I had to stay at Johannesburg’s airport for 5 hours, waiting for my next flight. Fortunately I met a young man named Hélio on the first flight, who was also taking the same flight as me (from Johannesburg to Amsterdam), so we stayed there together talking and watching the Barcelona – Real Madrid match. The next flight was the longest one, it took around 11 hours. Then I stayed in Amsterdam’s airport for two hours, where I took the chance to buy a Kipling handbag and to talk with the lady who worked at the Kipling store (I’m starting to resemble my grandma…), and then I finally took my last flight, to Lisbon.

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