First post coming to your from sunny Mozambique!!
Lets start with how I got here :) My flight from Vancouver to London was 9 hours long. There were not many people on my plane which was very nice because I got to stretch out over 2 seats and try to sleep a bit-however I can’t seem to sleep on planes unless I am completely exhausted! So I only really managed to sleep for about an hour put together in little bits.
When I arrived in London Heathrow, I was welcomed with drizzly rain, much like Vancouver. Felt just like home. The signs are surprisingly easy to follow. After I dropped off my backpack at ‘Left Luggage’ (so I didn’t have to carry it all around London), I followed the signs to the ‘underground’ or the ‘tube’ which is like our Skytrain system on steroids! I think they had about 10-15 different lines that you could take. Luckily a kind gentleman spotted my confused face and pointed me in the right direction. I got on the Piccadilly line and rode it to Garden City (or garden something, I can’t remember now) then I hopped off and followed the signs to the Jubilee line which took me to Waterloo. The whole trip from the airport to Waterloo took me about 50min.
At Waterloo, I met my dear friend Ruth!! We had an amazing afternoon touring around London, even though it was raining. We managed to see pretty much all the major touristy things in the 4 hours that we had together. We went to Oxford Street, saw Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly circus, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Bridge and The London Eye!! It was November 11th when we were visiting London, and at Westminster Abbey, they had lined the red pathway with black crosses for Remembrance Day, and around those big black crosses were numerous small white crosses around them. We didn’t walk through there, but I think that people can put a white cross by any of the black ones in honour of a specific person. I just found that very interesting.
After we saw all those things, and snapped a few photos with Ben..yes Big Ben. (He looked great in the evening lights) we headed back to Waterloo station. We grabbed a Starbucks and enjoyed our last few minutes together before I had to head out. This turned out to be hilarious as I somehow managed to smack my head into a glass window while trying to get a closer look at something on a display…we were DYING from laughter! Haha! I’m going to blame that on the fact that I had had no sleep….ya.
Back to the airport! The tube was crowded as trying to get back! I nuzzled myself into a little corner by the doors and fell asleep standing up! HAH. My knees kept buckling every time I fell asleep and jolted me awake again. I must have looked ridiculous. Although there were TONS of people surrounding each other that maybe no one noticed?…maybe.
I was in a bit of a panic when I arrived at the airport because I couldn’t find where I had left my backpack. I was also running slightly late…hehe oops. Too much visiting with Ruth. Then I saw one familiar place and knew exactly where I was! Phew! Glad my photographic memory is tip top. At this point I had half an hour till my flight started boarding, and an hour and 40min before it was supposed to take off! SHEESH! I was quite nervous since this airport is outrageously busy. I got to security and the line was SO long…..I just prayed immediately that God would move the line quickly. When I was saying ‘Amen’ in my head, a security guard pointed to me and told me to go down a new lane that had just opened up for security! I was literally like at the back of a 100 person or more line. WOW. So I got through security in like 10min tops and was early to my boarding time! Haha God is so awesome.
I met a lovely woman in the waiting area for our flight. She was from London and was going to visit her daughter, who is a doctor, currently working in Kilimanjaro. Her daughter had been there for 3 months already and she was going to visit her for 2 weeks and then she has another 2 months to go after that! She is helping to build, and teach how to build, these wood incubators for babies that are heated by light bulbs!
Got onto my plane to Addis Ababa. This plane was slightly delayed by about an hour. I was worried I wouldn’t make my connection in Ethiopia but we managed to make up the time in the air and landed on time in Addis. This flight was 7 hours of which I slept about 2 broken hours due to a crying baby. I shared the middle 3 seats with an incredible woman from Zimbabwe! She is 78. We talked for an hour before our plane took off. She was born in Zimbabwe, but now has been living in London for the past 4 years. She travels once a year to Zimbabwe to visit her relatives. She has also been to Vancouver! She told me how she took the ferry to Vancouver Island and visited Victoria. She then asked me all about what I was going to be doing in Mozambique and she was very encouraging! She asked what I would be doing once I got home. “I’m going back to University” “Would that be Simon Fraser University?” WHAT? This woman is amazing!! How was that her first response? Out of all the Universities in BC she said SFU…She remembers all of this information from when she travelled to Vancouver over 30 years ago!!! I hope my memory stays with me as vividly as hers is with her. She gave me her address and told me to come visit her when I come back to England and she would take me for lunch! (How cute!)
Now, I am going to blame the way I was thinking for this next bit on the fact that I had had next to no sleep. I feel like the worst flight was saved for last. It was just incredibly disorganized in Addis. They had all passengers go downstairs and they took our boarding passes and loaded us onto a bus which we waited on for about 20 min, then they unloaded everyone and told us to go back upstairs where we were all hand written new boarding passes and were told the flight was now delayed by half an hour because they were changing planes. I have no idea why. So after waiting another half an hour, we did that whole process I just wrote, again. Once we were on the bus, I don’t think it was possible to drive slower. At least it was a short distance, but the whole time I was just repeating in my head “get me off, get me off”. It was SO crowded and every time the driver braked, everyone would lean into me and I thought I was going to fall over onto this elderly gentleman. Worst. When the doors opened we formed a sardine line to go up the steps onto the airplane. My favorite! A guy sneezed right onto my shoulder….uhhh. I sat 4th row from the back of the plane, and I guess it’s just they way the do airplane’s in Africa, but everyone was literally shoving past as quick as they could to get their bags up, instead of just waiting for the line to move naturally. I just was feeling so frustrated. I could not wait to get there! I also got to sit in the row with the most obnoxious gum chewer that exists and a row or two behind there was a sick person- the kind that sounds like they’re about to throw up their lungs. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much on this flight.
So my plane was supposed to leave Addis Ababa at 8:50am and we didn’t end up taking off until 10:20am…so I was getting quite nervous that my ride would not be there waiting for me, as this was a 5 hour flight and I was to get picked up in Maputo at 1:30pm. So I just prayed lots! I was able to sleep in short bits on this plane, maybe about an hour and a half. I was SO happy to realize in the air that Maputo was an hour back, so instead of being 2 hours late, I was only 1 which was such a relief. Now, when our plane landed..I think this must just be what they do in Africa-they don’t care about wearing a seat belt when the sign is turned on haha so we’re still moving quite fast down the runway and people are getting up everywhere to get their bags! I was sitting in the aisle seat, and both people beside me literally jumped over my lap into an already full aisle. It was like crowd surfing!! I just sat in my chair until I was the last one off. I did not want to be a part of that haha.
Getting into the country was easy. It only took like 5 minutes – and GREAT NEWS!! My checked bag made it all the way!!!! YAHOO! I walked through the doors to be greeted by some muggy air. It was a sunny day, trapped by a bit of haze. I looked everywhere for Sandra, my driver, and couldn’t find her. I had countless other drivers come up to me to ask if I needed a ride. I just kept saying no I’m waiting, and I’m so glad I did because as I was looking confused and a little worried, a guy came up to me and says “Are you going to Ponta D’ouro?” YES! “Rosaline?” Jocelyn..haha never had that mix up for my name before. So he told me to go with him. He called Sandra as we were walking to the car and I spoke with her and she explained that he works for her.
He was a very nice man probably about 30. We started our 5 hour commute there. The town Maputo reminded me SO much of the town on the mainland of Belize. They had paved roads, and some tall buildings and lots of cars. We drove about 30 min to a ferry that we had to take across. In that 30 min, I can’t believe I didn’t see an accident! We waited for about 30 min for the ferry to arrive, then I walked on and my driver drove the car on. It was short, only about 10min. Everyone was trying to speak to me in Portuguese! It sounds so similar to Spanish, so I was able to understand a little bit. I was actually quite shocked, because when I researched, I knew that Portuguese was the official language, but it said it is spoken by only a small portion of the population. I think the internet is wrong haha!
Once we got off the ferry, it was dirt road from there onwards. 4 hours of a pretty bad dirt road. There were sections that were ok, still really bumpy but not as many potholes, but for the most part we would drive really fast then slow down quickly to go over big bumps. We stopped a couple times to go through some police (the friendliest police I have ever met.) At one stop, I could tell that they wanted to look through my bags and the other boxes in the car, but my driver bribed the police with a bag of food! Hilarious. The bumpiest road I’ve ever been on and I managed to fall asleep. I think the most I slept the whole travel from Vancouver to here was on that bumpy car ride. Go figure. By the time we pulled up to O lar do ouro, it was just after 8pm.
I have a cute little house/room with a bed, dresser, couch fridge, table and chair, and a bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower. Diana told me to get settled, then there was dinner for me and that we would discuss everything the next morning. She told me no wake up time, just sleep till I need to. So appreciated! I unpacked my things and then ate dinner, had a shower then went to bed. There was a massive thunder and lighting storm that night, started 10 min after I headed to bed, and I don’t know how long it lasted because I fell asleep in the midst of it. I slept for 11 hours that night and woke up with a bad headache. I think it will take a few days to recover. I still can’t believe that I am finally here!! I’m so excited! I woke up this morning and thought, how did I get here? This is amazing.