I love adventuring! One of my favourite things to do is to go off exploring new paths or just making a way through the bush. It’s really handy for getting around here in Lichinga. The suburbs are full of secret paths and dodgy bridges and little laneways that are just begging to be explored and I’m doing my best to walk all of them. You have to be careful – sometimes you can be on what you think is a path only to find yourself in someone’s backyard. Other times you can be following behind someone (it’s the best way not to wind up in a backyard) and suddenly realise they’ve disappeared and to keep on the path you’re on, you have to traverse a rubbish filled ravine. This morning I got myself well and truly lost, I was literally walking around in circles.
My friend’s cousin died over the weekend and I told her yesterday that I would come and visit this morning to pay my respects. It wasn’t a place a knew well, I’d been in the general vicinity once before to go to the mosque so I figured I’d be able to find my way. My “how hard can it possibly be?” approach to just about everything in life can sometimes get me into trouble. I was prepared to get a bit lost but thought I’d just use it to practice out my Chiyawo on unsuspecting strangers on the street. I did all of that – but it was way worse than I had imagined – I got well lost!
Some of the paths around town are better than others – it takes some experience to know where you should and shouldn’t go at different times of the year. My first sign that my trip was going to be difficult was when the man I was keeping an eye on up ahead to see where the path went just disappeared! He walked into some long grass and then was gone. I knew we were approaching a river (I’d crossed over it further up a number of times) and so I figured there would be a bridge somewhere but there wasn’t! The reason he disappeared…
… this! In order to get across the river, I had to navigate a steep, slippery, rubbish covered path… jump across the river and then climb up the other side. It was stinky and I just about fell on my bum in the rubbish but I made it! I kept on walking trying to find a decent path towards the next big river but all I found was this ankle breaker. Knowing that I was vaguely heading in the right direction, I ploughed on.
I made it to the next river – a bit bigger than the last. The last time I had tried to cross this particular river – I was also lost. Being lost is always more fun with you’re with someone and I had the pleasure of sharing my “lostness” that time with Sally. We managed to get directions from some older women and then found a place where we could scramble across some large rocks, avoiding the people and their washing, to get to the other side. I think I would have rather done that again instead of arriving here…
It was muddy and dirty and slippery and on closer inspection the bridge looked a little bit terrifying!
Thankfully I made it to the other side without any of the twigs snapping and started to make my way up the hill towards… ummm I have no idea where! It was at about this point on my last epic fail trip with Sally that the blisters only heels started bleeding. I decided that I needed to share the joy of having remembered bandaids and have someone commiserate with me about my lostness so I called Sally – the only person who would really understand. After having a good laugh at myself with her I powered on! I realised when I got to the top of the street that I knew where I was! I’d pass right by my friend Catarina’s house without even realising. Maybe that’s why those boys greeted me like they knew me?
I headed onwards, deciding that I’d ask the next old lady I saw where the mosque was. I found a friendly looking one near the market and (all in Chiyawo) greeted her and asked if she could point me in the right direction. Sadly she just said “I don’t know.” I consoled myself with the fact that at least I completely understood what she was saying and just kept walking. I went back down towards the river til I spotted some friendly looking people sitting on a verandah. I stopped and sat and talked to them and asked if they knew where the mosque was. They said yes – it was back the way I had come and I could get through over there. In reality, they had no idea but it’s not very Yawo to say you don’t know something.
I started off in the direction they pointed me in but stopped to talk to the next old lady I came across. She invited me to sit and I asked her where the mosque was. She knew and told me it was “Ako” which generally means “over there” (distance is usually indicated by the pitch of the “a” sound at the start of the word) and pointed me back up the hill. I figured by how high she had started out the word, I still had a way to go.
I thanked her, farewelled and headed back up the hill yet again. I was walking past a house when I heard someone say “bari, bari” which can mean quite a few things but in this case – it was kind of “hey, hello.” I turned around to reply and realised (yes I am a moron!) that I was in my friend Catarina’s yard and it was her daughter who was talking to me. I had literally stumbled across her. I sat down and explained how I was lost and was trying to get to the mosque and she was like “The one that you went and prayed at” and I was like “Yeah, that one.” I was trying to get some good directions from her when she said “I’ll come with you.” Thank you God!
She walked me through numerous backyards and got me there in no time, bless her! I’m sure when she told her Mum this afternoon that would have had quite a good laugh. I really did just appear out of nowhere and must have looked completely bemused! She dropped me off at the mosque and I assured her that even though I still wasn’t sure which house I was going to, I’d be able to find it from there. I asked some ladies nearby and they walked me right up to the yard where the ceremony preparations were taking place where thankfully my friend spotted me and invited me in.
8km later, just one small blister, a teency bit of sunburn and a belly full of chima and usipa – I made it home safe and sound and grateful for the wonderful kindness, friendliness, hospitality and willingness to help of just about every one of my wonderful Mozambican neighbours. It really is a lovely place to live.