Convictions


 

Even though I am not a person with many convictions, I recognize as important to have some. A little more than three years ago, I changed my life because someone presented me two strong convictions:

1) that being together was a unique opportunity that life offered us, since the chance of finding someone else was tiny;

2) that we came from problematic relationships and wanted a new and different life, based on important aspects where other relationships had failed.

I believed in these convictions and made them mine. However, the person who made me believe in these convictions does not even remember them or does not even know what a conviction is and how a conviction should guide our lives. Worse than people without convictions, is people with false or weak convictions. It is toxic to live with them. Instead of someone with convictions, one day I looked around and saw a person full of uncertainties, someone who is not the person I let be part of my life.

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Best of February/March 2018


 

Renewal
No place shows us the capacity for renewal like Africa. In the last few days I had a clear idea of ​​this when I witnessed:

1. The fantastic weather in March.

2. Young giraffes in the reserve that we cross to get to Ponta do Ouro.

3. The first leopard in Gorongosa in 14 years!!!

4. Three months of incredible freedom!!!

5. The works in the church that finally seem to move forward.

6. Knowing that I am happy and will be happy whatever happens in the near future.

7. Although the new neighbors evoke the Gaza Strip, the truth is that I am the exception in an area where embassies, diplomats and government officials predominate. Until when can I fight the tide? This is a very interesting challenge.

8. It was good to know that I could easily dance in public, even if I would have trouble in getting my legs up or proclaiming the size of a woman’s (or a man’s) organ.

This capacity for innovation makes us feel strong and capable of facing the toughest trials. Africa is a woman, although for bizarre reasons some insist on considering it neutral. Long live the extraordinary women of these lands!

Fairy Tales


 

There are people who remind us of fairy tales. Do not ask me the reason. Yesterday I remembered that there is a child I call “the tall boots girl”. The reason is that when I first saw her, about four or five years ago, she wore boots that looked bigger than her. Today she remains a strong girl, despite her very fragile appearance. She has grown a little and is already in school.

She knows me (her brothers too) by Rapunzel. I do not think it’s just because of the long hair. Maybe it’s also because I live in a tower, always waiting for my prince charming.

Aunts


 

I just had an uncle. I could describe him as a hard-working, friendly and peaceful man. The rest were all aunts. A week ago I found myself thinking about the contrast between my aunts and if that contrast would explain what I am as a person. Let’s see…

There were three aunts on my father’s side. My Aunt C was the oldest and the only one who married at the “right age.” The remaining two, aunt AL and aunt AD, married late to ensure that they would not be alone in the world. If I had to describe them, I would say, for example, that they were good cooks, good housewives, very clean, serious, demanding, rude, wild, suspicious, greedy, unsociable, and suckers for a good intrigue.

There were two aunts on my mother’s side. The middle one died in her teens, leaving only aunt A, the eldest, and my mother. I tend to think of them as inclined to indolence. They showed little interest in domestic things and they were gourmand, careless, affable, credulous, passionate, submissive, cheerful, friendly and sociable.

Looking at the very different characteristics of these women, I can not help but admit that I may be a sort of “mixed salad”.

Three Years Ago


 

Three years ago I was celebrating “change and our chameleonic art of adaptation”. By mid February I was away, in Johannesburg. I almost forgot that trip because I was too sick to tell. Even though I am not sure of what happened to me, it seems I was a victim of one of those European winter bugs people insist in exporting to Africa.

Looking back, I think it has been the second time I felt so sick in my entire life. I was unable to shop, as I normally would, enjoy food and do the usual stuff people do when they take short vacations.

Maybe because I was so fragile, I also felt sad remembering that everything changes. It’s not only new people we learn to love and enjoy. Things change at an amazing pace. The places where I usually shop are now boring and repetitive. New places are emerging and I can’t wait for the next opportunity. No bugs.

Four Years Ago


 

Four years ago I was organizing newspapers, right before a road trip to the neighbouring town of Nelspruit, when occasionally I read my horoscope. Basically, it said two things: 1) From Wednesday on I wouldn’t have to worry about money ever again. 2) I would feel so incredibly energetic that people would be surprised with my vitality. It made some sense since money is reported to be a good source of energy. I referred to this generous prognostic on our way to Nelspruit, more as a positive note than an assertive fact.

We had a very nice stay. But, during the return, the child traveling with us vomited up his food. The last shop I needed to visit was already closed and we were caught in a construction stop promising 20 minutes of wait, but it took more than one hour before the line (20km of cars at least) was authorized to move. It was the longest (in time and length) road stop we have ever faced. The sunset turned into night and we were waiting and waiting. There is only one word capable of explaining what has been happening in the road to Nelspruit: a-b-u-s-e. No reason they evoke will ever be able to explain what we are submitted to. And strangely, it’s been months since the lines of sheep-like cars wait without a visible reaction against that abuse.

And as if that wasn’t enough, once in the Mozambican side we were almost sandwiched between 3 large trucks, those transporting 40 tons of raw sugar to some Maputo deposit, from where it is shipped to somewhere else in the world. Two of the three trucks were heading to Nelspruit, most probably empty. Sugar or no sugar, that wouldn’t make a difference to our fate. In fact, Andy perceived the criminal maneuver and decided to stay in his lane, avoiding the usual reaction when a collision is about to happen. Many accidents occur just because we overreact to an eminent danger. In order for you to perceive what really happened, I summarize it.

Truck number one, heading to Maputo, had stopped on the left (our lane), after the yellow line but still on the road. We were just passing and noticing the fact that there were no visible lights or triangle, when one of two identical trucks coming from Maputo decided to cross the road (from the right lane to the left), also without any warning sign, with the intent to reach the stopped truck. In matter of seconds we found ourselves between part of the stopped truck, on the left, the truck still doing its very risky maneuver, in front, and the third truck moving towards Nelspruit (right lane) with the prohibitive speed they allow themselves as soon as they cross the Mozambican border. The space for us turned to be just enough. The risk, as Andy perceived right away, was to turn just a bit to one side or the other to avoid the collision. It would be fatal in both cases.

It was only after the trucks that I realized that the meaning of my horoscope could be a very different one. If by now I were dead, I wouldn’t need money any longer. As for the energy, who is out there to prove me that there are no gyms or hardwork after death? It was a very long stretch before we reached home…

Five Years Ago


 

If you need a good reason to keep a diary, see the difference between who has it and who does not… Can you tell what happened to you five years ago? Many times I can. Five years ago I was here:

By mid February we went to the Kruger Park, a natural reserve delimitating a good stretch of the South Africa/Mozambique border. The only regret that I have was the delay at the South African side (and our breakfast at the Stop Café, on the route to the Crocodile Gate). Appetite apart, what is the problem with the South African border? Besides keeping people on endless lines for passport control, we witnessed kilometers of trucks waiting to enter into Mozambican territory. As most of them looked to be transitory goods, I can only conclude that South Africa is not supportive of the Mozambican economy – a real shame. I suppose I don’t have to list all the reasons against such policy.

Thanks to bureaucracy, we missed the lions and leopards signaled early morning near the entrance gate. Forget the large breakfast. People usually don’t eat well when their initial expectations are spoiled by doubtful agendas.

Well, it felt strange once inside the Kruger. The day was hot but not that hot to justify the heavenly quietness of the park. I only understood that peacefulness later on when I witnessed the massive number of elephants. Usually, if we are lucky, in a one-day visit, we spot one or two groups of less than 10 elephants. This time they were everywhere and in large groups, always with one of them working as a sentinel. Zebras, gazelles and wildebeests must have felt somehow pacified and protected. If such a giant is so peaceful, then the universe has to be peaceful too…

They walked near and between the cars with their quiet and solemn manner. One of them came from the bush and placed its potent grey body right in front of our car, precisely the moment my camera went on strike. Instead of turning to the right, where our car had stopped, the elephant turned left and followed the road towards a small white car whose occupants must have felt some panic, since they kept reversing as the elephant progressed straight towards them. This walk lasted almost half an hour. The elephant only left the very hot tarmac after defecating, forcing me to conclude that: 1) The elephant suffered from constipation. 2) The elephants use the roads we cross as a toilet. (And if you think this was enough for one day, precisely the same happened a couple of hours later when my camera behaved and allowed me to capture the moment the elephant entered the road and, instead of crossing it, decided to turn left and face another white car, forcing a wise second speedy retreat. Maybe I should add a third conclusion here: 3) White cars bother large grey elephants.)

Besides the elephants, I spotted rhinos and buffalos. To meet the Big Five I would have to cross a different South African border. I also watched small birds, large hippos, young and old visitors, men and women, a rainbow… Because of my “elephant day”, this is my “elephant month” too.