Tarwirei Chitate is an ambulance
Driver near Machaze, Mozambique. We first saw him when he was trying to transport a local woman to the nearest hospital with a surgeon - several hours away down the most horrible roads I’ve seen yet. She was having complications giving birth. Unfortunately, neither she nor the baby made it, and Tarwirei had to turn around and bring her home before they even made it to the hospital. Although he is originally from Zimbabwe, he came to Mozambique when Zim was in the midst of political upheaval, learned Portuguese so he could live and work here.
Although he drives at fast speeds down bad roads he asks the ‘gods’ to protect him and his patients. But it is a hard job, pays little, and is dangerous. In his village, we saw a very long line for water - apparently women travel up to 30km in one direction for water. Many of them wall or ride bicycles with jerrycans attached - well, at least they ride to the pump, but then they have to push them back home.
Can you imagine it? You ride 10 miles on your bike to get 10 gallons of water, which you then strap to your bike and WALK the 10 miles back. And you will do that EVERY. DAY.
Also, because of the lack of water and other resources, food is scarce. From that village, sometimes people have to travel up to 300km for corn. That’s the reality for Tarwirei and so many others.
Help us make clean water a NEW reality for people like Tarwirei. Just $20 gives someone clean water for 20 years. Donate today and find more info about the water crisis at www.walking4water.org.
Our campsite wasn’t going to be that great already. And then it turned out the only wood we could find was dead pricker bushes. Ouch, anyone?
Then a local woman and her 3 year old daughter came to see if there was anything they could do for us. We said we were okay, but then she insisted we at least come and camp outside of her house. We followed her back and met her husband and they graciously allowed us to camp in their front yard. The next morning we were able to hang out with them some more. They are such a great family. Although very proud of their country and heritage, they still struggle with poverty. Right now the husband is not working because there are no jobs. He is trying to raise some chickens, but it is hard work and also takes some marketing/advertising to sell them properly as well - all of which is difficult when you have basically no start up funds. In my opinion, this family was a great example of a growing family that could really thrive given the opportunity for or right tools/ investment for success. It’s not that they are incapable, unmotivated, or in this case, even uneducated. It’s just that there are so few options. We were really blessed to meet them and be with them and hope to stay in touch.
Another great example of someone we met along the same lines was a man named July. We sat down to have a Coke in his restaurant, which was a simple structure,
just a few tables, kitchen burners, and cooler of drinks. He came over to sit and talk with us. He is 34 years old and has all of the makings to be very successful, he owns some properties, worked to get his commercial drivers license (a very hard and expensive process here) and from the conversation we were having, sounded like he had a lot of great business ideas about how to generate revenue locally, for himself, but also in a way that would also open up jobs for other people in the area.
But his problem was that he needed money to get it all going. Although he had his license, he didn’t have a truck. Although he had buildings that he envisioned making a strip-mall type structure, he had no way of getting the buildings fixed up.
It was great to meet people with ideas and ambition; local people with successful ideas and entrepreneurship skills such as these would definitely help their communities to succeed economically. But what is the next step?
We have officially entered the rainy season of the southern portion of Africa. It started off with a bang, and a solid week straight of rain. The first night the tent flooded and the car continued to leak tremendously. Everything was wet. And the rain was relentless. In Swaziland it rained so much that some people’s homes were flooded and the rain plus unseasonably cold temps started to kill livestock. Nationally, by the time the rain and cold was over more than 7000 cows died, which for a country like Swaziland meant a whole percentage of their total cow population.
But currently, we are dry, our stuff is dry, the sun is shining and we have returned to hot temperatures again. Okay rainy season, we will try to stick you out!
We were trying to find a place to camp outside of a city called Xai-Xai, which is a relatively large city, it is the capital city of the Gaza province within Mozambique. We pulled off the road and found a place to hide amongst some bushes so that we couldn’t be seen from the road, or from where we thought the closest village was.
But, someone must have seen us.
First a few people came by to say hello, but the group steadily grew once they realized we were nice, and before we knew it I think the whole village had come to greet us. Okay, that is exaggerating, but there seriously were at least 20 people at our campsite trying to talk to us.
We talked to them as we continued through our routine, we made a campfire and set up a tent, etc. They watched and even when conversation would die down, would just stand and watch us. Even as we finished cooking dinner and sat down to eat, most had left by this point, but some just continued to watch. We tried offering them some food, they weren’t hungry, just wanted to watch. Eventually, they said good-bye but once we woke up the next morning they were there to say hello to us again, and I think the whole village came to see us again that morning.
Even later on in the day, we were walking, and we hear a guy on a bike yelling, “Amy!!!, Amy!!” and turned around to see him pulling up behind us. It’s really weird to hear someone yell your name after you when you’re in a strange country and town when you’re pretty sure you don’t know anyone. But it was one of the guys from the village, he had just gotten out of church and seen us again and wanted to say hello again.
Love it…but just know…they’re always watching…
It has been a month of quick transitions! Leaving the mountains of Lesotho behind, traversing the gap between there and Swaziland, where we walked for a few weeks before entering Mozambique where we will be for the next 4 months or so. Language-wise, we’ve gone from Sesotho to Affrikans to Si-Swazi to now Portuguese; we changed currency from Maloti to Rand to Meticals. And from 3500 meters up now we are sitting at sea level (and very thankful for that). Our car has had work done on the alternator, drive shaft, and now the brakes and tires. It has been a whirlwind month. We’ve spent some time this week getting acclimated to Mozambique, and now we head north into the rest of the country to see what we will see!
We are super honored to announce that two incredible people have given up their birthdays this month for clean water! Jaime Markham of East Hartford, CT and Rebecca Conner of Carbondale, IL have given up their birthdays this month so that others might have CLEAN WATER! So far they have both raised more than $350 a piece.
Only $20 gives someone clean water for 20 years, so through their birthdays, 35 more people will have access to clean, safe, drinking water.
Way to go guys! Thanks for giving up your birthday so that others might live.
If you’d like to give up your birthday, or any holiday for clean water, ask us how and we will get you started!
This past week has been absolutely insane.
Car repairs were taking too long. Visas were running out. We had cash and our main debit card stolen a few cities ago, so money transfers were also a mess.
We tried to start problem solving with Plan A and quickly whizzed through to Plan Z. Spent time at the Department of Home Affairs but by the time we waiting for hours in line it was too late for them to do anything for us. Door closed, door closed, door closed.
Ended up renting a car and getting out of the country a day late, becoming illegal aliens for a day. We were charged a crazy fine at the border, they threatened to arrest us if we didn’t pay up right then. They also were saying we would not get the 90 new days back on our passports when leaving. We finally got through, paying the fines, and with them saying we could get 90 days again if we went through a certain border post upon exiting. Okay, at least it’s over right?
Lesotho was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL country. We were a little weary after the crazy events of the past few days, but still were blown away by the scenery. And everyone we met there was absolutely amazing, which helped a bit to restore our faith in humanity. We spent 2 nights there and the second night, we were parked camping closer to a city then usual, and the cops came, were concerned for our safety in that spot and escorted us to a filling station with an armed guard and introduced us to the owner. Super nice people. The next morning we woke up to the filling station owner’s wife asking if she could make us coffee. Amazing, right?
Well we had to drive a few hours out of our way to get to the border post we were told to exit out of; upon arriving and trying to cross, instead of 90 days they gave us SEVEN days on our passports. Are you kidding me?
We got back to return the rental car, which was missing a hubcap when we picked it up. But the people working at the time didn’t believe us when we brought it back, and threatened to not give us our deposit back. Great.
And now we problem solve again.
Walking is the easy part. The rest is harder.
“It’s a travelers life bru, get one” – one of the comments made by our friend Angelica at a backpackers hostel we stayed at recently. (“Bru” means “bro” essentially)
I know if you have seen the movie “Hostel” you might have flashbacks of kidnapping and cutting of limbs. I want to reassure you that this is NOT what happens. At least so far…dun dun dun.
It’s really nothing like that. They’re quite nice really!
A community kitchen, dorm-type room, shared bathrooms and showers, clean, friendly, filled with interesting people from across the country and the world. People change day by day, and so every day there is a different “atmosphere” about. Then you also have the “regulars” or “permanents” – adventurous locals that don’t like to be tied down, who rent out beds or rooms by the month. That’s the “norm” at least, of what you should expect at a backpackers, although each one is unique and different!
The picture shown here is from one of our favorites, Afrovibe Adventure Lodge, in Sedgefield. Leigh and Lyle let us stay for free, we met loads of great people, and had a great time! Bonfires every night, jacuzzi’s on the roof, beautiful scenery right next to the beach! Aaron and I caught mussels for dinner, in the ocean, he might have gotten stung by a few jellyfish, but it was amazing!
Protests of note in South Africa TODAY: I know CNN tells you all about protests around the world. But here are some pretty significant ones happening RIGHT NOW, in cities we have traveled near in the past month, places that are currently only a few hours drive away.
- This picture (above) is from the community of Sweet Home Farm, Phillipi; they are a settlement that wants basic things like taps and electricity. They have been told they cannot get help from the government because they are on private land - of course this is after they voted their representative into office, who before being elected said the opposite.
And one more photo:
A protest about school overcrowding is becoming violent. What do the people want?
“Firstly, our classrooms are overcrowded, secondly, we do not have benches and desks, and thirdly, we want a high school. We have learners from Grade R up to matric using the same school premises. We can’t have children in a Grade 1 class mixing with a learner in Grade 12, it’s wrong,” said the Principal.
The students themselves burned down three mobile classrooms; they are refusing to accept their current school conditions.
Can’t brag enough on this Land Rover.
We are soooooo fortunate to have this vehicle.
I’m not sure I ever told you the story of the night that we bought it. Well, first of all, the complications of car hunting and money transfer and all of that- exhausting and time consuming; although ironic - this was actually the first vehicle we even looked at. So we pick it up and drive it away, and within 30 minutes were broken down on the side of the road. Here I am freaking out in who knows where in the middle of Cape Town, late at night, just handed over cash to this guy, and NOW WHAT. Well, long story short, the guy we bought it from came out to help us and really we just needed some gas and the battery wasn’t charged enough because it had only been on short drives recently. PHEW. CRISIS AVERTED. So the story continues.
Now, Marty is the driver, but none of us are really Land Rover experts, however we are quickly becoming more and more knowledgeable.
Since purchase, this car had to be proven “roadworthy”; we had a mechanic check it out, fixed a few minor things like replacing the “hooter” (horn), gave the license plate a light, replaced a few filters, changed the oil, simple stuff.
Marty also had a Land Rover specialist check it out last week (he did it for free - thank you!) and the guy couldn’t be more encouraging about how solid of a vehicle it was. He was like, “This thing will climb a wall. Just put it in first and let it do all the work”. I could go through part by part - the tires, the engine (Toyota - built to last and easy to find parts in Africa), the side shafts, the gearbox, the transfer gear box, the 4 wheel drive, the gas tanks, water tank, roof rack, seriously part by part and tell you why they are great.
There will be spare parts we take with us along the way to make sure we can fix problems as they arise in the middle of wherever we are (after we leave South Africa, it will be harder to get parts/good mechanics, etc), but we are totally stoked about this vehicle and thankful for it as we continue our trek.