1, 2, 3… Testing

 

After less than a month of something passing for winter, we are welcoming spring the best possible way: testing our 6m semi-rigid Navegador. Navegador is a very reliable and playful boat. Thanks to design, lightness and motor performance, it can cross this bay with three times less fuel than any other boat. Most of them dock during long periods, while Navegador only docks because of weather or laziness conditions.

 

There’s a lesson we have to learn from all this long period without boat. Three years ago, when Navegador had an accident, we assumed the motor was completely doomed. So, we sat and waited for an opportunity to buy a new one. JP even offered parts of it to a friend. Assuming is a terrible thing…

 

Due to some pressure from the club, we sent the boat to a repair dock in Durban and after a couple of days we were informed that the motor was in perfect health. As a conclusion, we have just paid for service and the parts JP had alienated. The total repair cost represents 7 or 8 times less than our estimative. I couldn’t ask for a better way to start our 2009 beach season.

 

We have three tests planned: one short distance (Catembe), one middle distance (around the bay) and one “long” distance (Inhaca Island). The short distance test was absolutely successful. The motor roared softly, yet powerfully, as it should have.

 

Leaving behind the city humming and a white foamy path across the blue bay, to Catembe we sped. We were lucky to have picked the most perfect day, almost “mar espelho”. We had champagne on the beach and prawns at the nearby quiet, friendly restaurant. It was a bit stormy during the trip back to the club, but Navegador behaved till the end.

 

The only problems noticed were: 1) We have to improve the anchor system. 2) We have to get a light cover to protect the navigation instruments, since the original cover is too heavy and only useful for travelling proposes. 3) We have to repair the working trailer in order to ease the docking procedures. The travelling trailer is new, but the one where the boat sleeps is rusty and difficult to manage. 4) When hydraulically upped, the motor touches a seat bar. It could have badly crushed my hand, but, as most of the time I protect hands and feet on beaches and at sea, the thickness of a glove saved me for the worst. We have to do something about this.

 

Other than the boat, here are some exciting news from this corner of the universe:

 

– World Cup 2010 construction frenzy seems to have reached Maputo.

 

– Guard Albert is now a father of a healthy baby girl. That same day (August 4), one boy and 15 other girls were born at the same hospital, confirming Andy’s theory that men are on the verge of extinction or Chanda’s theory that people are eating the wrong food.

 

– Speaking of food, our house has been functioning as B&B for two crocodiles. Again. One of them, full of vim, jumped from the travelling container and, if it weren’t for my checking on them from time to time, he would be lost or smashed by a car. I caught the guy two steps away from our front gate. We are feeding them with liver and I have to say that these two guests are not very sociable. Soon they will join two other male crocs living up North. Andy swears this time he is sending a female too. The lucky girl will not know what competition is in the near future…

 

Keket celebrated six months in good spirit. She is growing pretty fast and learning basic lessons during our daily walks: no, come, stop, sit… With the right incentive (read biltong), I believe that I can teach my dogs to sing “This Paws Are Made for Walking”.

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Just Weekly

 

I started writing this blog on a daily basis. In 2007 I changed to four a week posts and that’s how it has been until now. At this stage I feel like I can say whatever I feel like saying with just a weekly post, starting today.

 

Writing weekly brings a few advantages to me, namely time to organize or complete things I’ve been postponing. It also avoids stopping for good and losing what I learned in terms of writing.

 

Becoming more synthetic is going to be a challenge and I’ll have to select subjects with more care. Such challenges give me a sort of positive excitement and that feels good.

 

Besides this weekly posts, I intend to write when I have a genuine tale from the sea to tell, in an attempt to be truthful to my initial purposes.

It’s Party Time!

 

Today we are throwing a party for JP. Finally he is celebrating his anniversary with us, after a few years working in this date. He has been showing his joy and we are all pretty mobilized.

 

Our guard George was the first one directly involved with the preparations. He usually is. He has spent Thursday gardening and painting. He painted and repaired an extra toilette so that we don’t have people coming and going inside the house with all inherent inconveniences and risks. In the end of the day he was all smiles. His energy is a rarity and galvanizes other people around him. This time we have two guards on duty, because the last party someone took wood art from the front patio.

 

JP has invited twenty friends, but owing to the last party I am thinking double. I organized the following menu for him: 1) Starters: peanuts, cashew nuts, chamuças, rissoles and cold chicken. 2) Mozambican feijoada (beans stew). 3) Brazilian feijoada. 3) Barbecue meat and chicken. 4) Orange and pinapple slices. 5) Sorbet. 6) Special cake (my present to JP). 7) Black forest cake.

 

I believe JP is popular not only because he is always paying drinks but also because he is a good company and someone friends can rely on. Because of all this, I think he deserves to have a really good time.

In the Quietness of Summer

 

This week I received really good news in terms of summer programs. They came after a few others not so good. It was time something positive happened to make me forget the worst.

 

Since December we have been in ‘house arrest’. First it was the rain turning the roads into dangerous muddy pools. Subsequently it has been the heat and humidity.

 

In the end we are doing what people living in cold climates do: whenever possible seeking refuge from the harshness of the weather. We seem unable to stay far from the air conditioner. Cowards!

 

I’ve been the worst coward of them all. I spend my days watching people coming and saying: “I should have stayed home… Outside is like hell!”, rivers of sweat flowing from every single pore of visible skin. I have become a coward from listening to others’ misery.

 

Extreme temperatures have their own beauty. One afternoon I wrote down the following: It’s so beautiful outside! It’s sunset now. As we have the air conditioner on, it’s exquisite the contrast between the hot red outside and the fresh somber inside. Maybe you, living in a cold climate, have a similar feeling when it’s very cold and you look outside through a window of a cozy heated room. The indelible attraction of contrasts!

February Stars

 

It’s February again and February it’s me. I don’t believe I own the month or that I am owned by it, so then why not just say: I love this month and maybe I am loved by it too? And this one started with a few remarkable facts.

 

I normally avoid reading horoscopes, but why not when it’s my month and they promise a new life? One came with the Sunday newspaper magazine I leaf through because of a column and the picks of the week, and ostensively promised “a look into your life, money and the week ahead”.

 

As a curiosity I register here what the stars had to say to me about this particular period: “Excellent! The communication planet has straightened up after weeks of confusion, and you’re raring to go. This is the real start of your year, with several planets in your sign and luck on your side. Make demands. You’ll be heard.”

 

I knew something was wrong, but I would never have guessed I could have hopped a whole month of time. Now I am not sure if I know how to demand or to whom to demand, but I’ll keep you updated if my luck really changes and the goodies start to happen or I dig that treasure buried for too long.

Phases

 

My kitchen has phases. I was clearly aware of this when TD, usually inviting himself for lunch (and welcomed), when he is here, SMSed the following text: “What’s on the menu today? Peking duck?”

 

He knows we never cook duck at home, despite the fact that Paul and Andy would appreciate it from time to time. Duck, rabbits and a list of other graceful living beings are uninvited over my table. I would cry if insisted.

 

But TD’s message made me see that we are going through an oriental kitchen phase. Though not a Chinese phase, it’s definitively a Japanese one.

 

Last week, while investigating the back-room big freezer where usually we only keep the huge fish JP brings home, chef Tieta discovered the best cut of Dente de Cão tuna. I immediately SMSed TD and girlfriend something like: “Discovery of prime tuna cut asks for another sushi dinner. Besides, I still have salmon.”

 

The answers I got were like: “Yes!!!!!” This time the menu included: two options of soup, tempura, tuna and salmon sushi, our pecan cake with Madagascan vanilla bean ice cream and strawberry mint pesto. So the last day of January, we had our third sushi dinner at home, not only proving that things have the tendency to happen thrice in a row but also that we are living a Japanese kitchen phase. Sayonara!

Gourmet Road

 

There are two approaches in terms of driving from Maputo to Johannesburg and vice versa. The first one is making it fast in order to have lunch at your destination.

 

For the fast version you have to wake up very early, pray for the border (nearly 100km from the starting point) procedures to run smoothly, stop for petrol and quick snack in Nelspruit (nearly 300km from the start), repeat the same in the Ultra City stop (nearly 500km from the start and 150km still to go). We know it works because we have done it often.

 

The second road version of the same journey is the take it easy one. You spend two or three hours more in terms of time, but you arrive less stressed and a lot better fed. Instead of stopping at road joints you pick the best places to eat and take your time.

 

Suppose you are driving from Johannesburg to Maputo. First stop can be Ultra City (150km after the start) for petrol. Supposing you didn’t left empty stomach, you can have a serve of fruit (good for your health) and whatever you have to do. Next stop will be only 80km ahead, precisely the time to digest that fruit you had. This time you don’t feed your car but yourself. We suggest simple trout fillets with lemon and a drink of your choice. That’s a good starter.

 

You return to the road. At this stage both car and you have enough fuel to keep running. Next stop is in Nelspruit, another hundred kilometers ahead. There you have a wide variety of restaurants to select from. You can pick one of the various grill houses offering a nice steak or think seafood and Japanese.

 

After feeding your car too, from Nelspruit on you can have a last stop at the gas station before the border for water, fruit, petrol or whatever your car and you need.

 

Surely you aren’t going to be in Maputo at lunchtime, but you can have a late tea or a cozy dinner in the comfort of your home.