Friday, April 27, 2007

Inselbergs and ladybirds

So, the inselberg. What a great word. I think the literal translation is island-mountain, which is a pretty good description of these huge chunks of granite which soar up all but vertically out of the plains, creating an awe-inspiring lanscape of monoliths disappearing off into the hazy blue distance. Although, of course, to experience this awe-inspiring landscape at its best, you have to climb one of them. Which, in this case, involved a two hour uphill scramble, at times clinging onto small handholes in the rock, and pushing through thick vegetation on the occasional flat bit. I was quite pleased with myself for making it to the peak, as a) I am not very fit (who, apart from Swisslil, finds the time and energy to exercise with small children to look after?) and b) I sometimes get a bit wobbly with heights. In any case it was well worth it, and based on the assumption that if I can do it then almost anyone can, I am going to put a bit of time and money into helping the young guys who guided me get better organised and a bit better equipped (bare feet!) so that they can offer a better (and more lucrative) service to the occasional adventurous tourist who makes it out to Meluco.

Meluco the (very small) town is the district capital of Meluco the district, which is a vast and wild place with many elephants – who frequently trash the crops – and a tendency towards drought – which also trashes the crops – and a subsequently fairly low standard of living. I very much want to promote tourism in the area, which is truly beautiful, but am hampered by the fact that there is no public transport, so only tourists with a vehicle can get there, and also no phone lines, so you can’t make an advance booking and be sure that there is somewhere to sleep, something to eat and some form of entertainment apart from trying to guess whether that strange night-time noise was a curious hyena or just a mouse in the roof. So we will start small and take it from there.

That was last week. Then, at the week-end, was the birthday party. Sebastian turned one on the 18th (in Meluco) and Joaquim turns three today (26th). Conveniently enough, a week-end lay in-between, so we inflated the bouncy castle and paddling pool and little slide thing that links the two, patched up the tear in the smaller Winnie-the-Pooh paddling pool, filled both, blew up many balloons, ordered grilled chicken and savoury snacks (“salgadinhos”, literally “salties” - a particularly fine Portuguese tradition, little pasties and pastries and the like), made jelly, bought ice-cream, baked two cakes and transformed them into one ladybird and one rabbit (looked a bit like a mouse, but Sebastian didn’t mind), and scoured Pemba for suitable goodies to fill going-home bags for 20 little boys and girls. (When I say we, Paulo ordered the chicken. I forgive him, he’s been busy and it was kind of fun.) 20 little people then scoffed the food, burst the balloons, sang happy birthday twice, and bounced, slid and splashed to their hearts content whilst their parents enjoyed a cold beer and whatever food they could salvage and made sure that the babies in the small pool stayed upright and left the kids in the bigger pool to their own devices. As you can imagine, it was a great success.

If I can find the cable to download my photos, I will post some of both of the above.

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At 1:00 am, Blogger Marie said...

I've seen the cake. I thought it was a mouse too. Sorry...


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