Smiling people eat fruit and fish

Ilha de Moçambique is a terribly beautiful place. Beautiful because it's a lowriding sandspit on top of (what I believe is) a Pleistocene coral reef. It's surrounded by coral islands with precarious palm trees perched on top and the broad shady streets date back to the 1300s when Arab traders carried ivory and gold from Zimbabwe through this outpost. Terrible because something like 12,000 people crowded onto the little island to escape from the 2-decade civil war, and most of them and their children are still here. Obviously water and hygiene are huge problems. In spite of this, everyone here seemed healthier, happier, and, well, way mellower than the inland farmers. Island time baby, island time.

The center of the island is a huge hole, made when the Portugese (or their slaves) carved building stones from the coral foundations to build the fort (subject of a future post). The hole is now home to about 10,000 people and a booming market of fish/fruit/nuts/out of context used t-shirts from the states. Young ladies roam the streets in giggly packs (chickens!) wearing beautiful Capalanos.

Jodie forgot her "swimming costume" so she picked up a bargain pair of purple shorts with a hole in the crotch. Luckily there are these guys running a little sewing shop near the marketplace. They have old footpump singers nearly identical to the one in my mother's foyer - a hand-me-down from her grandmother I think? which is now a historically interesting curio table. Sort of made me feel like shipping it to Mozambique for these guys to fix up and run. They were so smooth I couldn't believe it.

Our little escort: "I AM JAMES BOND! I AM FROM AMERICA!" To which I responded, naturally, "I think James Bond is from England." And Jodie pipes up, ever so helpful, "Christie's from America! Where Coke comes from!" Ah yes, thanks for that Jodie, your ancesters are horse thieves. Ha! Just kidding. Jodie's Australian. And it just so happens, my ancesters are also horse thieves. My Grampa Sam proved it. So we're not so different, you and me, Jodie.

Like any good Bond girl, this lady runs with the pack of scruffy boys and holds her own in all the kicking and running and wrestling and hustling and all the general Tom&Huck goodness these kids get up to. Terribly fond of her for some reason. Because she's scrappy I think, and was trying to hustle me while in awe of me at the same time? A bold character. These kids could not for the life of them figure out why we took so much interest in rocks, shells, sand and tide pools. These are pretty picked over, but there were still plenty of brittle stars and sea urchins - guess nobody in the Far East has figured out how to make an aphrodisiac from these yet.

By the time we got to Ilha I had quit worrying about why the kids weren't in school. Occasionally you'd see a pack wandering around in school uniforms but a lot of the time there would just be kids everywhere all day long. It didn't occur to me right away that primary school isn't free. This sight (2pm on a weekday, outside wall of a crowded house) just about broke my heart:

Close up:
You go girls.


Boats on Ilha de Moçambique

Ilha is covered with boats. Well, mostly covered with people but there are also many boats. These dugouts are made from a single palm tree, carved out with combined use of fire and a blade. I remember vaguely that the Polynesians used to do it this way as well, but don't quote me on that. Anyway they are brightly painted (either with MCel or Coca Cola logos, how do these corporations get them to do that? Sponsoring the paint?) and make very versatile 1-man sailing or paddling canoes. Conch divers use them and easilly keep one hand on the line while they dive for their prey.

Here is a traditional Barco under construction on the beach. I took a close look at the keel scarf because I knew somebody would be interested. I also spent a good deal of time trying to ask these guys what they used to chink the planking. It turns out to be some kind of fiber- not sure what it was but the closest thing it reminded me of was fiberglass insulation - very fine, matting fibers, only more absorbant. No resemblance to any local materials I could ascertain.

Kiddies playing on a boat which is on the beach for re-caulking (on island time, anyway). Note Vodacom barco in background.

Not a bad place to grow up! These kids are incredibly well-fed and happy compared to everywhere else in Mozambique that I saw - this in spite of the crowding/water/sewage issues on this tiny island.


Rapale Gneiss Charnockites

Here it is, Lee-Anne! Look happy because this quarry represents the next nine months of your life! You will be living and breathing Rapale charnockites from now on!! Heh heh. Hazing aside, you can no doubt see why Lee-Anne is so excited. Look at the orderly distribution of charnockitized fractures and K-rich melt veins! Look at the big clear quartzy blobs in those melt veins that could be chock full of fluid inclusions!

The charnockite is confined to zones on order 10cm-1m thick, corresponding to a surprisingly regular conduit network. You can see from the mafic dike here that the blocks of gneiss were rotated along the charnockite/melt seams, acting as semi-rigid blocks although the edges are somewhat sheared.

Some of the blocks contain folded dikes! But when did they fold? Was it during the regional metamorphism and folding (pan-African Age) or did the charnockitisation have anything to do with it? Looks to me like the former. Jodie helped me measure sets of these folds from the charnockite quarry and a nearby quarry which escaped charnockitisation to check for consistency. In these gneisses where there is no compositional banding, these are the only strain marker!

Tres Amigas before the deluge:


Nampula people

Sorry taking so long to update, don't know if anyone but me reads it anyhow, these days...
Here are some belated reflections of the people of Nampula province... They seemed to get a big kick out of three crazy red-faced white ladies sweating like pigs in a quarry facing the afternoon sun.

The three of us rented this 4-bed bungalo at Touristo Complexo NASA for $25 US/night. This seemed cheap, but the dinners were expensive and (in my opinion) not as awesome as fresh veg from the roadside. Chicken and chips, chicken and chips! But we got lots of nice bats, bugs, lizards, etc. Every chicken we ate in Mozambique was missing the breast. The only time we saw chicken breasts was on LAM (Ligne Aero Mocambique). Is it possible that the national airline is high-grading the breasts off every chicken in the country?

My pal Paola worked at the touristo complexo. She spoke Portugese with a rare diction, and incredible patience, which enabled me to attempt social conversation with her. This was facilitated by the use of Lee-Anne's Portugese phrasebook, which was designed for some English retiree going to Portugal to shop, etc.. Many of the phrases were not useful to me, such as "Where is the golf course?", and "What time is tee-off?" Those actually sent us into crazed giggles because I would be seriously less surprised to see a golf course spring up in Kodiak than I would in rural Nampula Province. Anyway Paola was great. Going to school. No marriage until 25. She has set herself a lonely course of education in place of normal social development and we loved her!

Here's Jodie in the background doing some surface mapping in the quarry, while in the foreground, a man builds fires to crack off building stone plates of the self-same rock we have traveled so far to collect.

These kids hung around watching us every afternoon. We started calling them the "Lost Boys" (one of them brought his sister one day when I took this photo). They were pretty cute but it was unsettling to see kids this young completely roaming on a scary cliff of rock. There was a younger bunch too, maybe 2-3 year olds. Maybe we westerners overprotect our kids too much? These kids were sure-footed and surely independent... but maybe not eating so well... They considered our empty water bottles a huge prize. Luckily as the quarry became the locus of hellaciousness in the afternoons we were emptying plenty of water bottles for them.

On our last day we were all spent but Lee-anne kept working! Tenacious student. Tenacious L. To distract the afternoon crowd of watchers, Jodie organized a paper airplane throwing contest. This was HIlarious because she made a kindof crappy paper airplane, the kind that will fly a bit if you just give it a gentle toss but will nose dive if you throw it hard, as bigger boys are want to do. A medium-sized boy won the prize: 5nMt.

Here's the taxi driver who we hired to take us out to the quarries on our first night in Nampula. He thought we were nutso. But look at the view!

A man taking rolls to market:


Bedrock Geology of Nampula Province (Rapale Gneiss)

Here's a bit of geology for those who care! We toured several quarries in and around Nampula, trying to get a grip on the variation within the Rapale Gneiss. At a quarry in the city (Lee-Anne and Jodie and I agreed to name it "Nampula Quarry" but I am now thinking we should have been more creative) I found them! The big Folds!!! In this exfoliated landscape, it's hard to get at a vertical fold with a sub-horizontal axis from atop a dome, especially since the quarries are the only desert varnish-free surfaces. I am truly fascinated with this landscape and I wish I could find a geomorphologist who would work on it.

The Rapale Gneiss is a tonolitic orthogneiss (that means it is a metamorphosed rock, which was formed from a tonalite, which is like a granite only it has basically no potassium feldspar and not so much quartz, either). The mineralogy is plag-bt-Hbl-quartz-sphene(?). Amphibolite-facies metamorphism (Pan African age, 600Ma) created a biotite foliation of variable intensity, which is roughly axial planar to the folds. The folds are hard to find, because the rock is almost never compositionally banded. In the first photo you see an anticline, plunging ever so gently east toward the charnockite quarry. The little cut face gives a cross sectional view of this assymetric fold.

Lest you get the idea that things are orderly in this gneiss, here's Dr. Micheque posing with a folded meta-mafic-dike? thing? which is west plunging. the dike is paper thin and has an incredible chocolate tablet structure, where a sheet of 3-5mm biotite books seems to have been brittley stretched by plane strain and the joints filled in with quartz/feldspar veins. Then the whole mess was recrystallized, was crosscut by felsic dikes, and then sat there quietly for a half a billion years until Dr. Micheque paid the quarry man $25US/ton to have somebody make it into brick-sized building stones for his new house in Nampula. Wooee!

Elsewhere in the Rapale gneiss, and never in the charnockite quarry, we see these Hbl poikioblastic things with sub spherical quartzes and also euhedral feldspars inside. They aren't overprinted by the biotite foliation; in fact, they form in low-biotite zones. My theory at the moment is that they have grown post deformation, during the oft-referenced isobaric cooling? Which may not have been isobaric in all directions, if you catch my drift. Anyway they will be Jodie's problem I think. Can't wait to see them in thin section. Could they be the zones which are readily charnockitized? They are about the size of the "opx" lumps in the charnockites.

Too bad I didn't take a whole lot of photos around the "ordinary" gneiss, at least not ones that are worth posting on a blog. Anyway here's Jodie, Micheque, and Lee-Anne at sunset on our first day in Nampula, after we hired a cab to take us to the Rapale gneiss "normal" quarry. I think this is a nice photo of Jodie explaining some wack-ass geochemistry. Ha just kidding Jodie!