We spent the days swimming in the Indian Ocean and soaking up the sun and Thank God For Ocean Breezes at Xai Xai (Shy Shy), Zavora (best bluff campsite, rescued a crab caught in fishermen net), Inhambane (So-so. Inhamblah), Vilankulos (splash out at Bahia Mar Resort for my birthday, facial, massage, and swim up bar included), Morrungulu (where South Africans next to us who have been coming for 10 years without incident, had their tents slashed and were robbed while they slept) and finally Inhassoro (at the dreamy Dream Catcher Lodge where we sat in the sparkling clean pool until we were pruney all over and watched fisherman lay a five kilometer long net and spend all day pulling it in before dividing it among the community of women who rushed to the beach with buckets or empty maize bags at the end of the day).
All of these lodges and or campsites used to be packed to the gills during school holidays and at Easter but these days there are just a handful of guests and minimal staff (except for Bahia Mar which is owned by a Government Minister and has steady occupancy). The drought, the fall of the Rand, and political unrest are to blame for keeping folks away.
Portuguese, think of something to say in Portuguese! I said sotto voce. I remembered the time I was in Brazil floating down the Amazon in a small wooden boat. The place where the women prepared our meals was just outside our cabin so every morning I greeted them with, "Bom dia!" which I was sure meant good morning. But every morning after I said it they giggled and blushed. Finally, the captain pulled me aside and told me that my accent was a little "off" and that instead of wishing the cooks good day, I was telling them they had nice bums.
"Bom! Bom!," I said motioning to my behind, to the area my gentile Aunt Martha called patootie. Not knowing what language patootie comes from, I threw that in for good measure; "Patootie!!"
Nothing. By now her impatience was turning to fear.
This is all very bad, very sad news for Mozambique. In addition, there's a shortage of maize and food prices are soaring. Up north, kids are barefoot and their clothes are in taters. In the South, in the area controlled by the government, children have uniforms, shoes, backpacks, and schoolbooks. But there are a lot of children. If you drive through Vilankulos at noon you'll have to weave your way through a sea of blue uniforms. Hundreds of children, all the same age are leaving school, while hundreds more are arriving for session two. There aren't enough jobs to go around now so it's hard to imagine what these children will do when they graduate.