Scenes from the Lebombo

My Rowe aunts would feel right at home here - goats everywhere - baby goats, big mean old goats, all kinds of goats. We didn't ever see any goat dairy products though, only saw milk once, sold in little single-serving baggies... I guess they are mostly for meat? Don't tell the 'cousins'! (those would be my aunts' goats, in case anyone is wondering.) The goats eat well out here too, lots of grass and bushes and moldy old fruit and lounging in the shade. Wish I could say the same for the people! They are slaving away, carrying water to the goats and making charcoal to roast the goats. Also using tiny ball peen hammers to make pink rhyolite gravel road base (yes, by hand) for that nice tar road these goats are crossing.

Life in the Lebombo mostly in traditional rondavels - these are constructed of a stick frame which is sheathed either by tying bundles of reeds around it and plastering over with mud, or by jamming rocks into the frame and mudding over that. This one is under construction. When someone moves out, the house just melts down in the next rainy season to leave a donut-shaped mound of mud on the ground.

Lots of changes evident from the colonial days... Here's an old country manor house with a lovely stream in front of it, dammed to make a nice lilly pond. We came upon it while looking for outcrop in the low-lying weathered basalts. It's all overgrown with plants inside now. As Sila just suggested - maybe it hasn't been occupied by anyone because it's too big to roof without timbers? Or maybe it just has bad vibes.

The Lebombo is conspicuously empty of animals. Mozambique generally is quiet of animals - no mammals, few birds, lots of sub-bite sized lizards are left. People were very hungry during the civil wars. Finding owls in the quarries made me happy, even though I took a rather poor photograph.

One population who has found a home in rural Mozambique is the white farmers who have been ejected from Zimbabwe in the past several years. Mozambique invited them to stay - recognizing that a few white farmers could manage a lot of food production and jobs - and speed the recovery from the war years. A kind couple in the hills outside Namaacha are setting up a bit of a guest lodge on their land. This is an African wildcat who they rescued from a creek after a fire as a tiny kitten. He's now the king of the farm anyway. He's a bit bigger than an ordinary housecat - but like a coyote back home - when you see how he moves and looks at you, you don't mistake him for a housecat. Still a kitten though, when you tease him with a blade of grass.

The border post town of Namaacha (gateway to Swaziland) must have been a cool mountain refuge for the Portugese that built it -this is the high school - we stayed at a nice brand new and creepily empty conference hotel. It was a huge hotel with a big restaurant/bar and servers who commuted from Maputo for week-long shifts - English speaking - and we were the only guests for 3 nights. There is a big business in Mozambique just catering to UN, UNESCO, USAid, WWF.... you name it, they pay in US$.

Next post (by request!) : Houses of worship.

No comments: