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After many months of being away I finally got a chance to visit the mainland camp at Larde. And after so long, there are many new, exciting changes in the camp.

The bread oven is now fully functional and we enjoyed delicious warm baked bread for breakfast. Coming soon will be the layer chickens so fresh eggs will be added to the fare available.

For the first time I slept in a bed in one of the houses and not a tent, what a pleasure! The houses have now coat some paint on the outside and soon the inside of each will be painted too, making them ‘real’ houses at last. I’m sure this will make a big difference to the guys staying there. Everything is ready for the plumbing, which will bring showers and flush toilets!! Most exciting!

But one of the best new happenings at Larde definately has to be the canteen. Almost finished, the canteen has a kitchen and storeroom, a toilet and a large open sitting area where the staff can eat and gather socially. If all goes well a Tv will be installed (depending on the pending electricity coming soon to Larde).

The new manager is coming soon all the way from Germany and he will be helping the staff set up a carpentry and joinery workshop to supply materials for the islands. Staff will also have the chance to learn new carpentry skills from him. A training room will be part of the new workshop buildings which are next on the list of what to build.

We weren’t there nearly long enough as we had to get back to Nampula to complete some important proposal work but I am guessing that next time I will be happy to stay a few days, the camp is now like a proper living area and I am looking forward to fresh bread and eggs for breakfast!

Staff houses at Larde

Staff houses at Larde

Staff canteen at Larde

Staff canteen at Larde

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Getting a household together from scratch in Nampula is a bit of a challenge. And an effort. The challenge is in finding all the usual household things without too much problem. The effort is the marching up and down to all sorts of shops one would never usually notice to find these same things. I have been getting quite good at it now, pratice that I’ve had.

I now know where to get material, and a good tailor to make sheets, curtains etc. I know where the best pillows are and a decent mattress at a decent price. I also know my way around buying plastics such as tupperwares, buckets and bins. I have a fair idea about furniture, even though the choice isn’t good.

But what has been alluding me for weeks has been the purchase of plates. Normal serving size dinner plates. I have sideplates and bowls and funky square bowls and pasta shallow bowls and cups and saucers. But plates seem harder to come by. (There are sets available but wanting more than 4 of each, not liking the pattern or colours and already having all the other crockery I have been looking in particular for plates sold in the singular).

After a few fruitless searches and lots of frustration I decided to give up with the active search, taking the much more Nampulan way of thinking that one day I will come across what I want, so until then, don’t worry about it.

This theory worked quicker than I thought and Sunday, helping a friend find flip flops at the market, plates were found! There was an awkward moment when I almost got 5 blue plates and one marroon but after a bitof discussion and lifting of displays I came away with 3 blue and 3 green simple but bright plates. Perfect.

In the same way, friends came by the lounge suite they have been looking for for months, perhaps even years, when shopping for their son’s birthday present, they got more than they bargained for.

The moral here is when in Nampula, have patience, all things come to those who wait, some just might take a bit longer than others!

As the sun sets, around 5:50pm, the darkness that descends on Nampula is broken by the sharp sounds of sudden slaps coming from within the households as people settle in for the night. Or so I imagine. It is like this in my house every night that I am no longer taken by surprise, my heart ripped out of my skin, at the startling clap of hands on either side of a mosquito. In fact, I have quite taken to the sport myself, risking stings and the embarassment of clear missed swoops, all in the name of getting as many of the pests as possible. It doesn’t help, there are hundreds of them still but the moment, right after the clap, that reveals a dark smear on the palms, is reward enough.

There are other forms of mosquito slapping that require equipment more than mere hands. The Chinese shop sells mosquito zapping racquets – they have uv lights to attract the prey who get zapped in the mesh – which can be bought in pairs and a match arranged, remember to move the furniture to make some space. Then there is the more docile form of the sport, known as watching the mechanical mosquito slapper – or more commonly known as ‘the killer’ – which involves none other than a cold beer and comfy chair from which to watch those mossies get fried. (Equipment is a standing form of the racquet)

I have heard of pillow slapping, or toss the pillow at the mosquito, but this variety lends itself to more misses than hits and can be a form of frustration, especially as it seems to be played in the small hours of the morning, after being either rudely awoken or kept awake for hours.

The most dangerous form of mosquito slapping has to be mosquito slapping in the shower as it involves a subtle mix of awareness, aim, coordination and balance. One sudden move and you could be on the floor with bruised limbs and ego as the ones that got away hover above just out of reach of your soap waving arm.