I think I‚Äôm over jet lag. Not entirely, but getting there. I slept a hard 9 hours last night, waking up this morning to a rushed agenda. We were late and the car was leaving. I threw on my lucky baseball cap, grabbed my camera, brushed my teeth and changed my t-shirt. Time to go.
The car left for Dondo ‚Äì one of the few remaining spots in this area of Mozambique where the rainforest has survived. We were on a scouting mission; our work is expanding into a sixth village, hopefully extending our health services to another 250 families. We spent the first two hours of the day driving around like one giant African clich√© ‚Äì Americans in a white Land Rover driving slowly through a rural village, stopping to make small talk and take lots of photos. Thankfully, we realized the people here were doing well ‚Äì too well to be incorporated into our work. That is the crazy thing about this country. The GDP is increasing at 6.5% annually, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Still, it ranks fifth poorest in the world. It is a terrifying mix of poverty and hope. Dondo is doing well. I accepted this silver lining with arms wide open.
To counter yesterday‚Äôs heartbreak, today we found happiness. We ate lunch at a great little caf√© on the beach, watching the fishermen pull in their nets. My friends sipped cold Manicas, the official beer of Mozambique. We quickly walked through the Central Hospital of Beira and saw that the facility was dramatically improved in the last two years. The windows have glass and screens, making keeping the malarial mosquitoes away from patients much easier. The last time I was here, holes in the screens made even the newborns subject to deathly bites. There was fresh paint. There was a new ambulance. There were patients being seen — fabulous on all accounts.
But today‚Äôs most incredible accomplishment was finding a friend‚Äôs childhood home. She grew up in Mozambique and asked me to try to photograph her old house. With the decaying roads and neighborhoods in mind I wasn‚Äôt hopeful, but I told her I would try. She printed off aerial maps of the area and gave me her old address ‚Äì certainly I‚Äôd be able to locate this tiny spot 10,000 miles away between two small landmarks. Right?
After showing the maps to our driver and patiently driving and then walking in circles for about 30 minutes, not only did we find the house, we found the family who has been living in it for the last 31 years. The neighbors remembered her. They were surprised and very interested in hearing about the first people to ever come back and photograph the neighborhood. It was surreal. They looked at the Google maps and stared at their homes as seen from space. They couldn‚Äôt get over the technology, or that a woman now living in America was looking at them from so far away, wondering about the small cement house she once called home. I can‚Äôt wait to share the photos with her when I return.
And I bought fabric. Oh, the fabric. It is wax-dyed, bright, gorgeous and distinctly Mozambican. I cannot wait to photograph it and share it with others.
I also managed to call my folks in Texas using Skype. Have you heard of this program? It cost me exactly $.60 to make a 3-minute call. Plus, I’ve got Internet where I am staying. Tomorrow is another story. Today, however, was a very good day for me in the technology department.
I can‚Äôt thank you enough for your kind words during my travel. I feel like I have a hundred friends tucked in my backpack cheering on my every move and keeping me motivated to do good. Muito obrigada.
p.s. If you‚Äôve seen my luggage (yep, coincidentally that photo of the day up there in the right-hand corner) feel free to send it my way. My socks are threatening to become part of my body.
p.p.s Tomorrow I’m off to the “bush.” We are going to a rural ranch and possibly a game reserve. Lots of things to see in this big, beautiful country.