Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The first week in Maputo

This summer's research project requires that I spend most of my time in rural areas of Nampula province, in the northern region of the Mozambique. I was eager to get started with the fun stuff in small villages, but soon learned that there are many administrative must-dos to consider before I can even think of setting foot in a rural community. The bureaucratic hierarchy of this country is complex, and I can't say that after nearly a month here I have a solid idea about how it all works (I have an excuse - I'm an engineer, not a political scientist!). Regardless, Anne, Yacoub and I managed to navigate the necessary formalities that precede any community field work in this country, shaking hands with all sorts of water sector gurus, participating in conference calls with contacts in New York, and getting 'official' letters stamped and signed - all with much help from Vale of course.

This week wasn't all work though - Vale made sure we were introduced to the side of Mozambique that has captured her heart over the past 3 years that she's lived here.
We toured the bairros of Maputo, caught a sunset on the water that cast everything in pink-green-blue, and ate our fill of camarão, peixe, lulas, and other delicious seafood. We drank fresh coconuts on the beach! (Anne, Vale, and winking Yacoub -->)

Luckily it's the dry season in southern Africa, so mosquitoes are a little less of a problem than they are in Oct - Feb. Nonetheless, malaria is still a serious risk and I invariably find one or two pests in my room at night, so a net is definitely in order. Setting up my REI net was awkward at first - something of an effort involving balancing on chairs and window sills. But over time it's become second nature and I think I'm now somewhat of an expert at slinging this thing up to whatever works - lamp ballast, curtain rod, crack in the wall....

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Sara! The laughing girl in the picture at the top of your blog is the best! We think of you often, and have been enjoying the Cal Ave farmer's market and the Palo Alto summer. We can't wait to have you back here to share stories of your adventures. *hugs and kisses*