so for the course they organized lunch every day and morning and evening snacks through a place next door called the chivas regal. i'm not really sure why it's called that, but it's essentially a student discoteque in a former sports complex. they would otherwise be closed during the week, but for us they arranged 7 days of special buffet with some pretty tasty food, and a long table outside with plastic chairs. the food would consist of some sort of meat, fish, roasted potatoes or fries, rice, the local version of frou-frou and some salad. carbs. whoever was first and second in line would always take all the fries.
the owner is a skeevy arab guy with lots of missing teeth. the course was meant to be 7 full days but they shortened it to 5 1/2. we were having a little review session on saturday morning (i once again found myself explaining that we were in the southern hemisphere, hence latitude is NEGATIVE) and at around 12:30 they just decided to end the pain and started clapping and cheering thank you teacher! while i was in the middle of a sentence. ok.
so we pack up and head to the chivas for what would be our final lunch. smarmy arab owner guy didn't want to refund us for the 1/2 of the 6th, and 7th day of lunch and snacks we had already paid for, but offered us to exchange those meals for booze. why not? nelson the logistics guy says, how about we start drinking now and just hang out all the way until dinner and then see where we stand? do you see where this is going?
great idea! so out come the 2 bottles of johnny walker red, ice buckets, some red wine (also in an ice bucket) and a whole lot of beer.
so there are two sizes to 2M here, small and large. the small ones are normal beer size and generally cost $1.50, but the large ones are actually cheaper, the difference being quality not quantity. the small bottles are "export quality" the labels actually read "cervesa de qualidad" so, good enough for tanzanians and south africans, but the large ones don't say anything in particular, and so i guess they are more the equivelent of toilet water with alcohol.
so we're hanging out, talking, drinking, laughing. zin tells me about his chili garden that has 6 different species and he tests their hotness, their ability to grow in different soils, and their potential for elephant deterring bombs, a big part of the work in northern mozambique. awesome. there are plenty of more rasterizing jokes. it's become a favorite word
"how are you doing?"
"you know, rasterizing, man."
then comes another fish head man trying to sell an 80 pound sailfish, which he is carrying on his head. no one wants to buy his fish and he storms off. the sun sets, the music gets turned on, these huge speakers aimed at our table. they play a mix of only 3 songs: bon jovi's bed of roses, guns n roses november rain and the live version of hotel california. this series repeats, and repeats and repeats. i was gambling people millions of meticais "hey diego, i bet you the next song is....november rain!" it is blaringly loud. we ask to turn the music down, so they turn it up, then down so it actually doesn't change at all. so we move our chairs to a far corner of the patio. we sit in a circle around the last free beer...we drink it ceremoniously and someone immediately orders a round of 6 more to replace it. we continue in this fashion until it is dark, other tables and chairs are set up around us, and our long table is once again ready for family meal. it feels like a wedding, when you sit and try to talk over bad music and watch people dance.
nelson asks if we can put on a cd, to change these awful tunes. it's a jimi dudu album - mozambique afro-jazz. it's excellent. everyone in the place is rocking out, tapping their feet, whistling the melodies. nelson and sergio play air guitar and sing.
dinner is served. people point at the mystery meat dish and laugh and say, "aurelgrooves will never eat this!" referring to the dobrada debaucle. but they are chicken gizzards, i recognize them immediately. are you crazy? i LOVE chicken gizzards, for reals!
we eat, the jimi dudu album ends and is replaced by a reggae song with lyrics about the uprising. everyone starts chanting "rasta-rizing! rasta-rizing! with pixels!" and we dance stupidly. the evening continues.
people are dancing verrrrry inappropriately, especially during this one song "ta quete" which means "stop complaining and take it" or something terrible classy like that. it has this low angry voice and this hard loud beat and people do the ass shaking jiggling grinding thing, which i cannot do because i have no ass. we are taking tons of stupid pictures.
i started flipping my glass around, shocking and amazing all with my gravity skills, and then i smashed a full glass on the ground, naturally. no one found it funny. "teacher is drunk! rasta-rize!!"
so then everyone was asking me why i don't dance, and particularly why i don't dance with the men in that grindy african style and i tried to explain is was a little beyond my comfort zone and they say you have to dance with a man, it is an african rule and so i say fine, and that's when i found a new african boyfriend. his name is fernando. he moved to pemba from the south in 1941 when he was 20, so i'm guessing he's pushing 90. every single one of his bones is jutting awkwardly out of his body. he has a little hunch, wears a nice pair of sweatpants and a designer polo shirt. he can dance his ass off. his favorite song is "ta quete," he goes absolutely nuts over it. and lucky for him, they play it a lot, like several times an hour.
i bought him a lime fanta after a few tiring dance songs and i think he told me he loved me. it sounded like waarrrraammmaamawaa because he has no teeth, but i'm pretty sure he was talking about love. we danced all night. every time his song came on he would be completely extatic and clap his hands and sing.
once, he was dancing with another girl, this super hot really tight jeans wearing girl, when ta quete came on and he elbowed her in the nose to get her out of the way to dance with me. he really put on the groove. later on, she stole him back. bitch.
i pulled a 'my dad when he's drunk' and invited fernando to thanksgiving. "it's one of the many, many, many days that the americans eat better than the mozambiquans!" and hey, with a little luck, maybe he could get a spot at peconic landing? at the end of the night he saw me dancing with a co-worker and mumbled his usual warrramamaaawaaa and stormed off. i never saw fernando again.
zin showed up gave me a plastic bag full of teeny tiny extremely hot chiles. "the smaller they are, the more spicy...just like teacher!" they made my throat burn through three layers of plastic. he shakes my hand, which is now covered in super hot chile, which i later rub in my eyes.
we finally decide to change venue, and i ask to ride in the back of the pickup, mozambique style. the only thing that's missing is 15 other people riding in the back with me, that would make this more authentic. so rito decides to give some prostitutes a ride too. i'm standing there, balancing and surfing, holding onto the cab, wind flying through my hair, lsitening to portuguese, staring up at the stars. this place is amazing...i will miss you pemba.