Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Epic Walk with a Hike into Magical Lands; Puppy in Tow

Howdy do. Good gracious, has it been a time since I've checked in with y'all. Well, let me fill you in on some of the happenings in my neck of the world. The past two weeks been chock full of excitement. I walked some 100 km with me brand new puppy and with same puppy met myself a queen and hiked Mozambique's (almost) highest peak. That's some adventure! That's some puppy!

Well, first off is me puppy. It's a she. Her name is Cooba which means 'to steal' in N'dau. She was found in our front yard and taken in. She quickly stole our hearts. This is the first time I've had a dog of my own, so I'm quite the proud father. I've been feeling that role sincerely since I've traveled many miles with her in cramped buses. If you travel with anything that shits and doesn't have its legs tied together, you'll end up feeling like a parent. I wonder if the guys who tie their goats legs up or chicken's legs up and shove them under seats might not have the right idea. Wow. Do I sound like a bad parent. I gave Cooba the opposite treatment, cuddling her for the 48 hour round trip and giving her bits of chicken and boiled eggs. She only pooped in the bus once and I think she was ready to jump out the window to avoid doing that. So, I'll take the blame on that one.

So, the first 100 km walk. It originated in Mangunde at my friend Ian's site. We walked through the 'mato' (outback) for two days straight heading for a fourth of July party in Dombe. Why do it? Everyone asked upon arrival. Simple. Glory. All of us had major blisters but were emboldened by our accomplishment. Out on the trails all the women wore headscarves and more then a few would bow to the ground when we passed. Obviously, Portuguese wasn't spoken as much way out.

Hiking the mountain was good ol' fun with my friend Alexandra Breedlove. I had over 15 people ask me for my dog. Cute at first, but then the children with their knifes became a little threatening. I soon saw what the knives were for when I bought from the road side a sugarcane stalk. The boy started whacking it up into little portions for us. Very nice. And sooo good. Juicey! Rip the stalk off with your teeth like a panda. Break off a hunk and chomp down on that sugary juice explosion. Once all pulp is sucked dry, spit. Mastering this technique is a major accomplishment of my time here.

We hiked first through beutiful tea plantations with flamboyant trees scattered throughout (actually their names). We walked until 4 in the afternoon, up and up. We passed a man pushing his bicycle up. I don't know how these bikes can help them. You push them up up up and then coming down, well, none of them have brakes, so really how fast can you go? Well, I took mercy on the poor chap and helped him steer (the easier job) while he pushed from behind. He got a kick out of my helping him and let loose this hilarious Hannah Barbara laugh: hyuck! hyuck! hyuck!

We passed this drunken man sprawled on the side of the road with two children nearby. He seemed harmless until he lunged at my puppy shouting: 'MY DOG!!!!' MY DOG!!!' We managed to lose the guy with a little help from our guide. The man was the hungry giant in the fairy tale of our hike into magical lands.

Finally we made it to the queen's home real tuckered out. Cooba makes friends with the black and white dog who was awful frisky for a new friend. There would have been no way to know this was a queen. No special clothes. She chopped the wood for our bath and brought us our food. The only thing that denoted her status was the negotiation of price for climbing the mountain (unexpected), and her leading the ceremony to have the spirits protect us as we climbed.

The mountain is said to be the origin of the people there; kind of a Garden of Eden.

Anyhow, we did a job of integrating in. Audi gave out stickers. There were quite a few kids about. They played an ancient cassette that periodically slowed to halt. We danced and played with them. I helped some with chopping wood. My persisentece earned me a smile from the queen which was not easily won. She was, I can't resist the pun, an ice queen. None too friendly.

But still! A Queen! Probably the only one I'll ever meet. When we gave her our offerrings of alchol and corn meal I tried to add a bit of humility with a bow and holding both hands out with gifts. Very cool.

So, that's the skinny! I'm receiving my good friend Carolyn from Romania this Tuesday with more adventures to follow.

Regards to you all!


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