Thursday, 19 November 2009


Namaacha is in the hills of south Mocambique, so at a higher elevation and a lower latitude than much of the country. As such, the weather isn’t nearly as stifling as I anticipated. In fact, trying to anticipate the weather here at all is pretty useless.
When leaving the house in the mornings, the safest bet is to wear a tank-top under a hoodie with pants you can easily roll up and don’t forget your sunscreen and umbrella! One weekend, I slept in boxers and a spaghetti strap on top of the covers, and the next night was in my yoga pants, t-shirt, hoodie and socks with my sleeping bag zipped up all the way.
There’s one thing you can usually count on, though: rain.

Whether it’s drizzling or a full-on downpour, there’s no doubt it’s monsoon season around here.
Did I mention most roads aren’t paved? It can get a little dirty around here.
But it’s okay. You can always just wipe your feet on the doormat.

Rain here isn’t quite like at home. I had no idea the sky could hold so much water. It has rained constantly for the past five days here. Constant. As in, stuff falling from the sky at every moment, and hitting the ground and realizing it has nowhere else to go, so it just hangs out and makes mud. Everywhere. For five days. It’s mind-boggling.
There’s a small lake in the living room in the morning. I have to take a running leap out the front door to make it to land on the other side of the patio. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, it’s cold.
Being cold and wet here is different from being cold and wet in the states. There, it is an inconvenience. Cold rain means you have to run from the house to the car. You have to carry your dripping umbrella with you to class. You can’t walk the dogs. You have to drive slower.
Here, cold rain is borderline debilitating. You have to put on golashes to use the bathroom. You can’t start a fire to cook or heat bathwater because the charcoal is in a puddle of water in the half-covered kitchen. Roads close down. Doing laundry is simply not an option, and if you’re unfortunate enough to do laundry before a downpour starts, you’re stuck with wet clothes until the next sunny day. Not that it particularly matters, because you’ll only get it muddy all over again the next day. You have to navigate an obstacle course of sidewalk islands in order to walk anywhere.
I’m not sure if it’s colder here, or it just seems that way because you can’t escape from it. It follows you into the house, which is made of concrete with a tin roof, and the door doesn’t exactly fit the frame and there’s a hole where the knob used to be that you have to stuff with the “doormat” mentioned above to help keep out the draft. Some nights I sleep in socks, pants, a t-shirt, a hoodie, in my sleeping bag under covers.
I realize now there’s no way I could’ve survived Turkmenistan. If Mozambique is too cold for me, I’m pretty much doomed any place where snow exists.
The one perk of the rain? I haven’t had to get water from the well in a week. It magically appears in the buckets we put on the side of the house overnight.
This is not the case for the rest of the country, however.
In Chokwe, you wake up around 5:30 and are comfortable for the next hour or so. After that, the temperature hits 40˚C (around 100˚F) and stays that way for the rest of the day. The doors and windows stay open, and in the afternoon you just want to sit in the shade and not move. You put on sunscreen in the morning, but it’s nowhere near as effective as the layer of sweat, salt and dirt that covers you by the end of the day. The cold showers at night are almost futile, because you start sweating again as soon as you dry off. To sleep, you try to sprawl out so that no limb is touching another body part and thereby generating more heat. The mosquito net is the closest thing you need to a blanket. Of course, we’ll be at our new sites in time for the hottest month – January.

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