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Tent on Nejovo

Yesterday the 25th february marked our arrival at our new home on nejovo island. And it couldn’t have been a better day. Waking up to a parfectly still and sunny day at larde camp, i decided to go to the island with the first boat, leaving behind some of my worries of overloading and big waves. The sea was completely flat and we made it here in about 20 minutes. Just past the river mouth we met up with the first of our lancha boats taking materials across.Where the lack of wind was a blessing for us, for them it meant rowing the whole way. We left them in our wake and sped off to the little island shining gold in the sun.It feels different arriving somewhere when you know it is going to be home rather than holidays. Instead of my usual immediate frolicking swim straight off the boat, i got onto land with a head full of plans for where what how.

Before lunchtime we had managed to set up our tent and sleeping site next to the area designated for the basic huts we’ll be building in the coming weeks. The main camp was repaired after the cyclone of the previous week and the kitchen arranged of its groceries and stuff

My new home aka tent is positioned in a cool shady spot with views on 3 sides of the sea. It is a 20 second walk to the sea. I have a table and a chair and have already found joy in sitting here with my laptop, looking out towards the sea.

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What do you buy if you know you are staying on an island for a month? This is the question I ask myself today as I prepare to hit the Nampula shops in search for provisions for our upcoming stay on the islands, the longest yet.

I know I have to get loads of things like rice, pasta, tea, coffee, sugar and oil. I have also added tins and tins of things like beans and chickpeas, mushrooms and tomato puree to my list. Then there are dry goods such as lentils, dry beans and nuts and cereals to consider. Not to mention all the extras like toilet paper, washing powder, toothpaste, matches, extra pots and cutlery. Then I have to consider how we are going to get fresh vegetables and fruit while we are there. Some things we can take with us and they should keep for a while such as potatoes, onions, garlic, pumpkin, coconut and lemons but in the long term I have created a vegetable growing project for myself. Buying seeds is the easy part, getting them to grow is the challenge. I also have a number of sprouting seeds which require some sort of container to grow them in. Add this to my list.

Now that I have my list, I need to source everything as there is no one shop in Nampula that stocks all. I also need to find the best prices and the right quantities for everything. This could be a whole day affair, an adventure to the shops of the big city I will be leaving behind for a while.

Our return from SA was rewarded with an immediate problem at the coast. What at first sounded like theft has turned out, it seems, to be sabotage.

Reports from our camp at the Larde River came that someone had taken the fuel pump cables from the boat, the same boat that we have just had repaired. The questions we began to ask ourselves was who would have stolen these things and why did nobody see anything? Our staff denied any involvement but in such a small community such as the one at Larde and Topuito, it is hard to believe that nobody would know anything.

So, we drove off to the coast with these questions in mind, ready to get to the bottom of this latest, and strangest, theft. We were also ready to be on the lookout for someone with a new boat with working engines, most of the river transport in those parts being pole operated lanchas.

On arrival we see that while the pumps have in fact been taken, they seem to have been chewed off.  We start thinking about who could possibly do this and what use would these things be to someone without a boat engine and after some discussion with our staff, who claim they know of noone who would have done this, we decide this looks more deliberate than chance. The question we now have to ask ourselves is who wants to sabotage our operations…

The pumps are a minor setback. It means we can’t go to the islands this weekend. It means that we have some staff stuck on the islands a few days longer than their two week shift and it means a trip to Nacala to try and find the parts. But the only lasting effect it has is that we are now wary that there are still some people out there who have false beliefs about our project and what it means for them. Where a project like ours could mean jobs, income and sustainable development for the local communities, some still want to believe it means loss of territory, loss of income and competition.

This is just one of the challenges facing us in the build up to implementing this project. There are plenty more, each one as exciting and challenging as the next. The goal is to see how many we can resolve, the exciting part is seeing what those resolutions are and what their effect will be!

Kayak on road to Larde

Almost a year to the date I first moved to Nampula, I arrived back in this big loud city late afternoon yesterday, laden with gifts from the more civilised world: kayak and paddles, battery charger, wind up lamps and spare car parts. The journey here was … interesting. First we had the flight from Cape Town to Joburg. After a week of wedding parties we set out with a convoy of friends, a very large red sea kayak and a bag full of toiletries and spares and pipes, and maybe a few clothes. Despite all of this we checked all in with quite a few surprised faces but no extra baggage fees. The first worry over. The next challenge was to leave the kayak in storage overnight at OR Tambo International. This too was easy with only R50 in fees. Onwards to day two! Here also we had very little problem with checking in this large red boat thing. And again we were within our luggage restrictions (perhaps something to do with the innocent looking hand luggage bags carrying the bulk of the weight).

All that was left was to actually leave the airport some time during the day (our plane was indefinitely delayed) and to get through customs. We did eventually make it onto the plane, even though we got off again 40 minutes later in Maputo to wait another couple of hours. And by luck the ticket we had purchased was direct (via Maputo) to Nampula which means we only collected our luggage in Nampula, where there are rarely, if ever, customs officers on duty. We did take precautions though of having our bag plastic sealed, a sure deterrent for anyone on duty late afternoon but hiding something that is big, red and plastic is somewhat more of a challenge.

Now we are here and the sights and sounds are the same. Work is underway to build 12 new traffic lights in the city, avocados are back in season and everything is looking very green even though I haven’t seen the rain yet. We will go to the islands soon, planning to stay for a few weeks to a month at a time this year while building gets underway. The kayak will become our well worn friend and Nampula the big smoke we will visit in times of social and material need.