Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 4

Today I went to the  V & A Waterfront. Sadly, all in all I was again disappointed in South African retail shopping. The waterfront itself is beautiful as is the design of the entire area, the mall, the grounds, the views. But the mall reminded me of Underground Atlanta back in the day. It is a great place to have if you live here, for gathering, eating and picking up items you need, but I wouldn't go back. They had a little oyster bar that looked inviting. There is a fresh market and that was fun. But the retail shopping was predictable and boring. Maybe I just have high expectations. I have been away so long and I don't realize how monopolized it has become by megashops like Zara and Topshop. Poor quality, mass produced "fashion". I bought my birthday present to myself, Jo Malone perfume. I already knew she had a shop there and where it was on the map. 

Afterwards I met Carly at Manna for coffee. 

I am feeling more and more like a local...

Day 3

I made my own breakfast. Eggs, toast, jam, coffee in my new espresso pot. I sat at the table and read Hello! magazine. I picked up Lisa and we went to a "fashion exchange". I bought a gently used popover and scarf and an outfit for Carla. Then we went to a food market, a normal, beautiful, creative, fun, delicious, proper food market. They had olive oil, chocolates, pastries, fresh vegetables, cheeses, wines, crepes, gelato. All fresh and local and delicious. I bought quince paste because I always buy quince paste when I see it. And a gelato because well, I always buy gelato when I see it. I also bought fresh spinach. A lovely bunch of deep green goodness for $1.

When then went to the restaurant @ Groot Constantia for lunch. I get so easily distracted by all the people and sites to see. Every landscape and dish needs my attention. I'm awkward at conversation. I have no clue what day it is and have to think hard about the month. But I manage well and the food is comforting and healthy and fresh and wonderful. The company is kind and warm and loving. I still feel like a fraud, someone so foreign, just trying to fit in and play the part.

I left Groot Constantia and went to The Fringe in Simon's Town for a much overdue hair cut. It's an adorable vintage style salon. I got a cup of tea and watched the rain. They play 20's music and show black and white films. The stylists dress the part. It was fun and I got a really precise, methodical, good cut. I also bought a hairbrush there. It's something I have been looking for my whole life, a brush for wet hair to detangle. I loathe combing my hair. It hurts. But this brush is wonderful. It's so simple and an unexpected find but it has already changed my life.

day 2

i know i need to expand my culinary tour of cape town, but i adore spill the beans. there are pancakes on the menu, British style with lemon juice and sugar, and scones with jam and cheese. i chose my all time favorite, poached eggs on a bed of sauteed spinach and toast. i asked for rye and it tasted a whole lot like sourdough. either way, it was delicious. from there i mapped my route to the second mall on the list, blue route. i need nothing now and i have been to the mall before, but i needed one more mall fix. i know it is horrible to come to such an amazing place and hide away in a mall, but i needed one more day without having to think or plan or talk. all these new places i want to see, i know so little about, they need a little research and planning. a mall needs no introduction. i needed to walk around invisible, in a small sea of people, to look at pretty things, to practice walking in closed-toe shoes. also Woolworths has these amazing cotton blankets and lovely beach towels and i need one of each. 

apologies to all my South African friends but the mall was just lame. we Americans live in total retail heaven, other than maybe an outlet mall in Italy with 90% off handmade shoes, i cannot imagine any place better to shop than Buckhead, USA. we have it all.  it is such an injustice to open a lame mall. the mall in Lusaka, Zambia was the absolute worst. it is a massive elaborate, expensive structure, with pitiful retail stores with cheap, overpriced made in China inventory. this mall was markedly better, but still so disappointing. the shoe stores sell pleather shoes. proudly. really? there was not a leather handbag in the whole entire mall. the leading department store carries not one single designer label. the whole mall carried not one article by Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Armani, Gucci, or even Burberry. except for the perfume counter. the women’s shoes and handbags in these stores look as if they came from Fred’s Dollar Store. i know i am being a bit cruel but you must be warned. come here for incredible food, wine and the most resourceful, kind and loving people you will ever meet. but don’t come to buy a new wardrobe. Woolworths didn’t have the towel or blanket i wanted. they must have been last season. i left the mall shocked that everyone in this entire city shops at the same little places and all wears fashions chosen for them by those same little stores. it was sad. i know you think i am joking but i really do think it is sad. i am enamored by the study of fashion and the things people wear. it was a beautiful case study even on the plane here. a photographer sat beside me perusing pics on his Canon in khakis and hiking boots, Timex watch. the African businessman beside me in square toe shoes that only a black man can pull off. which photographer wore the first pair of khakis? which black man wore those dress shoes and thought they looked so dapper? who set those trends and why are similar people drawn to similar fashions? like mom jeans. i don’t know why i am a missionary. i really would be better at studying what people wear. wouldn’t it be so crazy odd if that photographer with the lowepro camera case were wearing wingtips instead of those rubber-soled hiking boots? and that Brazilian girl with the heavy eye makeup bearing her midriff were wearing pearls and a cashmere sweater set instead? i know what you are thinking, “really, this is what this girl thinks about all day”? the answer is, “yes”. 

so after i left the mall, defeated and sad for all the people in this country deprived of beautiful things at their fingertips (i know they exist, i just don’t know where yet), i met a friend for sushi. 

the sushi place was in THE most inconspicuous shopping mall ever. it was old and again, offered absolutely nothing a snobby missionary from the United States would ever want to buy (except a car charger for my phone $10. oh and an espresso pot from the grocery store $8). but this little place is a sweet oasis. lovely sushi at great prices and wonderful service. i’ve had sushi here at the local place in simon’s town and this place was much, much better. my friend Lisa invited me and apparently she is a regular. i would be too. she brought two friends and it was fun to meet new people. i still feel so inept at conversation. her friends work in prisons, had both just come from trips abroad, so we all kinda instantly got each other. it still feels odd, to be talking to people in English, in a clean, modern restaurant, with chopsticks in my hands and a bottle of Champagne on the table, but it also feels so good. it’s hard to explain. even i don’t understand.

i’m home now and it’s been raining. it’s dark now. i made a huge salad for dinner despite not really being all that hungry but just wanting fresh raw greens in my veins. tomorrow involves more shopping. apparently it’s a designer label sale at up to 80% off. Lisa is taking me. i sure hope South Africa redeems herself. but shopping is followed by lunch, which i already know will be perfect. it will be the perfect menu, in breathtaking surroundings with two or maybe more of the world’s most amazing women i know. and thus, South Africa remains stunning and wonderful and i am honored to be so welcomed. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cape Town- Day 1

landed in cape town just before 11pm, grabbed my dirty army green oversized duffel with golden hazelnut brown stains of Clairol #6 off the carousel and skidded to the car rental place. it was cold out and they were all bundled up like there was snow on the ground. after lots of paperwork and a $1,000 deposit! i was driving on the N2 (i think?) in my tiny Chevrolet something or other. it’s the kind they don’t sell in the States because we don’t drive tiny little cars with manual transmissions. i drove to Constantia area to get house keys at a friends and then another 30 minutes to the little blue house in Simon’s Town after midnight. the minute i walked in i realized, the house, like most houses in this part of the world, didn’t have central heat. it was so cold. i turned on the kettle and filled my hot water bottle. i came prepared. i’ve lived outside the US enough to know now. why heat up a whole entire house when you can warm your bum and toes with a rubber bottle? 

i slept under every blanket in the house and woke an entire hour later than normal to squeals of children arriving at the school nearby. the sun doesn’t rise so stinking early here as it does in Pemba. it took me awhile to realize just where i was. i ran a hot, hot bath. i had turned on the “geyser” last night but couldn’t stay awake to wait on the water to heat. i stayed in until bright pink and quickly got dressed, actually putting socks over my clean pink feet. i never wear socks. i wore leggings and a navy quarter length sleeved j.crew tshirt w/ a kangaroo pocket and Ali’s green North Face jacket, the community one we all borrow when we go out of the country. i wore running shoes and put my hair in a bun. it felt so odd. i looked like a total goofball. a fraud. i didn’t look one bit like myself. but i don’t have many other options. i packed the best of my wardrobe and looking at it here hanging limply in the stark white closet, it looks pitiful. dingy whites from being washed in dirty water. stretched out shirts from Veronica’s loving tugs. a wrinkled assortment of well worn articles of my colors this season, orange and navy. 

i quickly realized the house also has no French Press or coffee maker and i was hours overdue for coffee. i googled how to get to the nearest Woolworth’s and Food Lover’s Market and started in that direction in my little silver Chevrolet. 

i stopped in at my favorite little spot from my last visit here, Spill the Beans Coffee Shop. the place where the chef prepared me breakfast at 2pm, exactly the way i ordered it, and completely off the menu. i walked in and saw a sign on the register, “cash only”. although normally a real rule player and never one to bother or make a fuss,  i didn’t hesitate. i pulled out my American accent and asked if there was any way i could pay later. he had sweet mercy and agreed and i got the best meal i have had in a very, very, very long time. i could have cried. i asked me how it was and i held back tears. a salmon & avocado rosti with a poached egg on top (45R or $4.64). rosti is a fancy way of saying hash browns. 

the markets i were seeking were close by. there are other bigger malls but i need to get my feet wet first. i chose the small one with 3 supermarkets as food was my first priority. i visited them all. i am still utterly mesmerized by white people and the endless supply of goods and retail services. i almost got my eyebrows waxed just because i could. i found a tiny health food store at the mall entrance. they had baobab shampoo and conditioner. i purposely didn’t pack these sorts of things and needed a small supply. i love baobabs. so, why not? they also had essential oils. i chose 3. she asked if i needed a bag. of course i needed a bag. she looked at me like i was crazy and even made the comment that most people have their own bags. i just shrugged my shoulders and told her i did have one. i had the keys to the car and a little gold wallet from The Dollar Tree with credit cards in it in my pocket. no cash. no handbag. no bags. i had completely forgotten how one even does this.

i then went in Woolworth’s but it was too much. too much to look at and too much to take in. i needed to focus. i was there for food. i walked down to Food Lover’s Market and decided to buy anything that looked good. the dollar is strong here. i started small and got a little bag of walnuts. it came from a dispenser and i forgot how all that works. i watched the person near me get a small plastic bag and pull the handle on the nuts. i did the same. i then got a variety of big, bright apples. i looked for greens but couldn’t find any. i got a log of goat cheese. i found it all a bit overwhelming with too many choices but also not able to find what i was looking for in spite of not really knowing just what that was. i saw a bag of coffee boasting the same brand as the little cup and saucer i drank from this morning. i got that. some milk. a hunk of cheese. yogurt. a frozen berry medley from berry farm that i have on my list to visit while here. a box of rooibos tea, because when in SA you have to drink rooibos. plus the house is so stinkin’ cold i will need warm drinks often. a butternut squash. kiwi fruit. tomatoes on the vine. olive oil. and two very large grocery bags. on the way to the checkout counter i saw two people buying gelato from the a beautiful, colorful glass display. it was 10am and i had just had that great breakfast, but my survival instincts told me i have not had that in a long time and it may be awhile before i can have it again. i got two scoops. i ate it as i schlepped my big market bags out to the car. i passed by the car twice because i thought it was white and i could only remember Chevrolet something or other. it’s grey. i emptied the market bag and put it over my shoulder. i almost wanted to go back to the health food store to show her. i took it into Woolworth’s and bought a pair of black leggings and a navy jumper. then i took the shopping cart by both hands and entered the lovely world of the Woolworth’s grocery market. there i got a strawberry juice blend and their ClemenGold citrus juice, my favorite. i bought two magazines. cherries and blueberries. a red journal and wooden colored pencils. broccoli and rocket and swiss chard. water crackers. a bag of gourmet kettle corn- a guilty pleasure, and unbelievably good even though it comes in a bag. vanilla frozen yogurt. i followed the same rule as Food Lover’s Market and got everything that looked good. i took two loads out to the car and went back to Pick n Pay. there i just got a few basics, eggs, bread, honey, rusks, gooseberries and another hot water bottle. blueberry & lime jam. chapstick. well not chapstick, that’s a brand and you can’t buy that here. i chose labello, medicated. 

i am home now, fully stocked and completely, utterly happy. i couldn’t decide where to begin. i had tomatoes and cottage cheese for lunch and then took a 3 hour nap, flat on my back, no movement. i had to pull myself out of bed and into consciousness. i only did so when i remembered the kettle corn. i poured a bowl and made a cup of tea. i just had dinner of kale, mushrooms, and butternut squash, hot water bottle at my feet. such a place of sweet content. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


i'm off to cape town. this morning has flown by and they always do. departure mornings. i threw things in two bags. all my 3 pairs of pants and all 4 long sleeved articles. it's cold there. it is 50 degrees there right now.  i won't get to cape town until late and then have to drive to collect house keys and drive to house. it will take all day and i won't get there until after midnight. but oh so glorious to wake up in a house with hot running water, in a big bed. my first stop is the grocery store. other stops on my list include a berry orchard, olive farm, vineyards, a spa, high tea on the waterfront and the Mozambican Embassy. also speaking to a few groups while i am there and sharing about what i do. would like to find a dentist and get a haircut and sewing supplies for the school. hoping to do some hiking and just so happy to have two weeks to be invisible and to rest and turn 36!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Milk Clinic

Minha Mae e Meu Pai

Galeria dos Sonhos is over now and I am back in my pajamas. Working on the sewing machine makes me shed my flip flops. I can't use the pedal as well with flop-flops as I can barefooted. My feet are pitiful. They are so rough and calloused. I didn't sleep well last night because of it. And yes, I have lotion. At home. But, I am at the beach house. Today when I got home I watched a whale playing out in the sea for over two hours. Every time he flapped his massive tail and left a spray so so high, I gasped out loud.  There was a mouse in the house last night and I really wished Dad were here. Instead I beckoned the guard. But we didn't get it. Just now I drank half a bottle of dirty tap water by accident. A result of Dad filling a bottle for a science lesson and the cleaning lady putting it back with the rest. I grabbed it tonight and took it outside and gulped until I noticed something black in my cup, then something floating in the bottle. Now my stomach is making strange noises. Or maybe I am just paranoid.

Of course I've been thinking a lot about the past two weeks and how fast they sailed by and just what all happened. Roy and Vicki came and were real troopers as they endured life here.  It's becoming my norm.  I am incredibly proud of them. I am pretty sure it is because they are Southern. We Southerners are a very resilient people. Haleigh, an EC student came too and she left a different person. Her story is her own to tell but it was beautiful to watch her change and grow as a result of being here two little weeks. Vicki and Roy were beyond generous and they blessed me. I needed Mom all day today, to tell me what to buy and what to wear and bring me things and do my laundry and fix my lunch and point out my rough feet and have pity on me.

We did a lot in two short weeks. Dad and Roy ran computer classes for almost 6 hours a day, as my students never wanted to leave. Vicki, Mom and I worked 8 hour days out in the gazebo sewing, taking out stitches and sewing again. They sorted and tagged and cut out patterns. We wanted to complete as many projects as possible for them to be able to take back to be shipped via our Etsy Store. My employees were troopers and kept up with our pace.  We have new cloth napkins, table runners, pillow covers, girls' jumpers and bow ties on their way back as they board Delta Flight 201 this very moment. Boys rompers are also now in production.

Haleigh went on a weekend stay out in the "bush bush" and Dad and Roy were supposed to go to a local prison but that got cancelled so we went out to dinner instead. Haleigh, Mom, Vicki and I went to our base about 30 minutes away in the village of Mieze to help out with Milk Clinic. I love Milk Clinic. I have posted pictures here before. Babies and Mama's make the best pictures. We saw some fat, some sick, some well, some really, really frail. A set of twins graduated from the program. We spent a day at Veronica's house in the village and had her family come spend a day at my "house" on the beach.

I hosted a small party for friends to enjoy the beach house and I hosted the Celebration Service here   the first Sunday of this month. I tried to show them all that there is to see. I introduced them to my students, my Mozambican friends, my missionary friends, Iris and other. We tasted from the menus of all five restaurants. Some, more than once. I took them to markets, armazine's and barraca's. We combed the beach. Roy practiced driving on the left side of the road and giving way at roundabouts. Our days were full. We all fell into bed each night only to gather again by 8am for another full day. I tried my best to show them my world. I wanted them to see the reality of the poor here, but also experience the hope I see for this nation.

Here is a glimpse for you too. Starting with a day with Veronica:

"Verunica's" Front Door, House No. 55 Carriacou, Pemba

Living Room


Bulletin Board of Family Photographs

Veronica's Son Beverly

Veronica's House


My Parents Came to Mozambique

Sunset & Tiago
Pardon my absence, I've had company! My parents arrived two weeks ago and now I am sitting here alone with a whole French Press to myself, missing them terribly. Collecting them at the airport was surreal, never dreaming that my parents would ever physically be here and that our two world's would collide. But here they came, with chocolate and coffee for me and I, with canned tuna and bread rolls for them. Dad drove on the back of the scooter from the airport and waited for perfect comedic timing to say, "I didn't want to say anything, but I think you are driving on the wrong side of the road". I absolutely adored having his presence here with me. Mr. Fix-It, a man, a father, The Professor. He killed a rumored poisonous snake one Sunday morning. When he road on the back of the scooter with me, everyone looked at me different. I felt protected. I felt safe. He had my back at all times and I got to let down my guard a little and let him. This has been my sermon to myself these past two weeks. Abba Pai is just as real and ever present and even more foreboding that Papa Carl. My first few days here Dad slipped $20's in my palm. It's no different with Father God. He plants unexpected surprises and He always provides. I've loved feeling the love of the Father through my Dad.
I was so proud to watch him fit right in. He stepped into the teaching role like a pro. He taught technology classes. My favorite students became his. He says Bichele produced a video that "will make you cry". I will post it here soon.
I don't have time to finish this now, Galeria dos Sonhos starts in 45 minutes and I am still in my pajamas, but wanted to post pictures and let you know that all is well, except for little pangs of really missing my mom and dad.