Monday, May 19, 2008

here we go...onto pemba

it's impossible to know what time it is. i've reset my watch every time i see a clock, or when they announce the local time when my plane lands and it seems i'm always drifting within a half hour of reality. and i know it's not my watch, cuz it's a swatch with a brand new battery, so there. on the BBC news, there's a big mozambique logo in the lower right corner where the time would be. i don't think anyone has the correct time, obviously because i'm early to EVERYTHING. so basically, i can stay 25 minutes late and make it feel like everyone is on my schedule, or try to keep up with the atomic clock and always be let down. i think i'm just not going to wear a watch anymore.
i awoke at the ungodly hour of 5 am to catch my flight to pemba from maputo. i had asked for a breakfast wake up call of juice, coffee and a danish, but all i got was juice because they didn't have anything else. and it made my stomach turn. i waited in line at the airport with all these germans and idiots from ohio with hunting rifles (safari jerks) who think they don't need to wait in lines and barge ahead. i finally got to the counter a good hour and a half later to have the lady say, "sorry, you have to wait until 7am to check in.

"but my flight is at 7:30. (and things aren't exactly "speedy" here)

you have to wait until 7.

but it's 6:58.

you have to wait until 7.

so we stared at each other, she looked at the ceiling, i tapped the counter, looked at my watch, wondered if it was in fact the right time, she looked at her cuticles and then finally asked to see my passport, precisely 1 minute later.
security is a breeze. the two guards are watching a movie on a cell phone, laughing. this young woman is going up to every white person and asking their name...the fourth one, a hippe french chick with dreds nods no...and finally she comes to me...hello? it's alice, my new colleague.
i get on the plane and look at my boarding pass..awesome, this flight is only 1h and 30 minutes. i guess i say this out loud because the stewardess laughs. she calls me "crazy lady!" we make THREEEEEE stops! and shows me a map of mozambique and connects 4 dots in a backwards z. i point to the line connecting maputo and pemba in one smooth arc and she goes "haha." awesome indeed. i think, 3 take offs, 3 landings, i'm now tripling my chances of being in a firey plane crash.

professor stinky breath sits next to me and for the second time on this trip i'm having my personal space invaded by my row mate. the armrest is a divider, people! on my 16 hour flight to johannesburg it was fatty mcfatso, a 380 pound UMD student who wore a size 3XL sweathsirt and a few of those x's simply absorbed the armrest and invaded my seat with his thigh and belly. so gross.

so people just loooooooooove obama here. he's like a personal hero from maputo or something. i try to tell the professor that i'm already quite sick of the whole hillary and obama debaucle but no, i get to hear how great obama is for the next hour, and "si se puede!" hillary is a fascist! (sounds like my mom) i'm hoping the next plane stop will buy me a moment of relief, but i only find out that professor drinks-a-lot plans to get hammered at each stop, guzzling as much beer as possible in the 20 minute southwest style layover. so whenever the plane makes a stop everyone gets off and goes into the transito lounge, which is usually a bar on the second floor of the airport overlooking the runway. the first time i didn't get my transito pass and i had to argue my way back onto the plane. so you stand there in the breeze and watch them refuel, unload cargo. at one stop an ikea bed came down the ramp, along with two coffins. i surmised they were empty by the way two guys swung them sideways onto a pile of luggage. i also saw my bags get unloaded and was feeling nervous until one guy came running, no no no no! and took them back onto the plane. whew!

so, by the last leg of the trip professor is stinking of beer, mumbling about mississippi, muhammad ali...and obama! did i tell you how much i think obama is great? oh, and he promises to introduce me to the governor of Ibo when we arrive. she's rrrreally small he says! (he does introduce me to her and she's exactly my height).araman picks me up at the airport, shooing away all the wannabe baggage handlers and beggars and brings me straight to the office. i haven't slept in two days.

the office is actually a makeshift loft built above another office. the ceilings are 5 1/2 feet, so that's fine with me. the stairs to go up there are steep and treacherous, especially when you have short legs like mine. it's like the 2 1/2 floor.

they love my maps. they don't exactly fight congo style for them, but close. the warden of quirimbas national park (i love that they call him a warden. as i day dream into shawshank redemption) says there are 6 more people are on the phone, begging to be a part of my training. they are from the ministry of geography, the people who make all the maps. and they don't know how to use GIS?nope. i don't ask any questions, and i decide i can't turn anyone away, especially geographers. but that makes a total of 22 people i have to teach next week. i'm sortof dreading it, but plan on taking full advantage of the slow weekend ahead of me to see the mozambiquan president visit town! there are flags everywhere and the streets are spotless. i want to eat lobster by the beach. and discoteque!!


Anonymous said...

More rural airport chaos pictures please, and Professor Drinksalot mouth breathing.

Anonymous said...

Yes we can !!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes we can ! Oui, tout est possible !