Monday, May 27, 2013

Posts from Maputo and Beira

Beira Marginal, its own version of the Promenade des Anglais, the mighty Marina.
The sketch below was made quite early during the evening, before the sun sets, which is why it is so empty. After dark, and until midnight, the beach road gets packed: ladies selling beer and refrescos from their cooler boxes, car parked with youngsters sipping booze and flirting, a 2 way traffic jam of cars, windows open, each one trying to cover the music from the other cars. For the people who are standing and enjoying their drinks on the side of the road, the car festival can only be compared to a  one year old discovering the radio, having found the sound button (up up up) and now pressing the channel button with great joy. Car with blue neon under the chassis plays full blast Passada, Deu me Amor pink honda spitting south african techno, '95 mazda pick up with 10 teenagers in the back blasting Shakira, Oh a quite corolla, then an Angolan-dance-boombox on wheels, a toyota hilux proving that Bon Jovi is also popular here, boum boum boum tchakalaka boum boum boum, Crash! (that is Bon Jovi kissing the arse of Shakira, failing to recognize her hidden break lights)- The traffic stops, Castel-Light-loaded drivers jumps out, eager to kill each other, then finding that they are, in fact, cousins and should continue their ride and let their dads sort the damages later...
People drinking, people watching, people driving, people getting deaf, and some working too, the cooler-box sellers, the cigarette and chewing gum vendors, the kids watching after cars, the portuguese Sporting-Fan selling his hot dogs, the chinese take-away guy busy cooking his  Mozambican dishes /Cantonese style, the tchopela (tuk-tuk) drivers offloading some sailors,... on a big night half Beira meet up on the 100 meters between the hot dog stand and the Mira Mar bar. It is busy. 

Small sketch done in Maputo. On Ave Lumumba there is a small old house, escondida between two blunt styled concrete towers (the type that inspired generations of architects building low-income-tower and making sure people living there feel as bad as possible). There are still such surprises in Maputo, where in the middle of eye-sores one will see some type of wonders that make it interesting, and gives its charm. This old house is one of those. Could pass 10.000 times in the street without noticing it, then one day, you are brought there. It is nice. As well they are doing food, prato do dia, no gourmet dishes but good food.
That is a great thing about Mozambique, and the west Africa I had the pleasure to know, is that there are hundreds of small hidden places to eat and drink out. A lot of chicken chopped, millions of potatoes slaughtered and fried, fish scaled, and salad dug. I do hope it can stay that way for a bit more time.
Oh and in that small old house, they also had WiFi. The house is falling down, but does it in style:  connected to the world. Now that is cool.

And last one from Maputo was done in Mundo's, a thatched place with international food and pizzas. It used to be full of south africans, now its a bit more mixed, still a lot of foreigners. When I draw I seem to be able to listen better. So during the hour at Mundos, I had the pleasure to hear two frenchmen talking NGO stuff and their relations with the ministery of health, an American lady pushing a Spanish guy in sharing his sex life stories with her (and detailing hers in the same time), a group of noisy Portuguese getting upset with the waiter, an English family laughing together, a women missionary reading her kindle, a mozambican  couple sharing their silence, a table full of businessman getting pinted after a sealed deal, and me in the middle

Friday, May 17, 2013

Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe, with its enclosures made of stones without any type of cement, embracing the rocky landscape, its stone hills and kopies. I am not going to jump into the heated debate on who build the stone houses that can be found in Zim and Mozambique, whether Phenicians on a mission for King Salomon, the arabs, shonas, lost tribe of Israel, indians or Ananarkis and other aliens of the like. History is always more fun when people really have something to prove, I think. 
For me it is just really inspiring, to see those big walls, with perfect alignment of stones, that have withstand 6500 /3400 / 2000/ 600 years (depending on your point of view, but in any case it is not older than 6500, because as every one should know, the creation had not happened then yet).
It is great to be in a place that breath greatness, that show with its buildings, traces of a well organized group, a rich culture and strength. It is the most interesting thing to hear the different theories about it, and realize that a lot of archaeological clues gathered on the site might have been twisted and re-twisted by the ones in the boss' seat. 

It is sad as well, for at the end of the day, there are great stone buildings but little understanding.  

So this is the story I like most. I heard it from an ancient Mozambican women, who was bling and blind but could see. She told me that she heard this tale from her mother, who heard it from hers and so long since the beginning of times. She was levitating in a small smoky bar in the deep African Veld. After some cups of a local fermented brew, she started to speak and trusted me with the story. She told me that she had no children to pass her wisdom, spoke with deep words she weighted with the thousands of year of oral tradition. When she finished. she died with a last but nevertheless horrible cough.

hum,- am clearing my throat- 
A long long time ago, there was a big fuss between the angels. The argument grew nasty and God decided not to intervene in settling the disagreement. He was tired of his last big job, the creation, and needed some amusement and distraction. He knew he had to cut down his staff and get rid of the losers. He was also a big fan of the theory of evolution, and its base stating that only the fittest should survive. One of the group won (the white robe ones). God kicked the losers out of his place, so the fallen angels went on exile, which happen to be on a spinning meteor, and dashed out of space with some key knowledge and wisdom they took from their previous boss. 
The feathered angels thought they got rid of the bad ones and continued having a sinless blast blowing trumpets and organizing the perfect paradise. 
HAHA, they were completely wrong. First because the theory of evolution failed to recognize the power of cooperation and symbioses between species, then because that specific meteor had a boomerang app in, and as an redundant malaria, zoomed past the earth a couple of thousands of years later. By that time the fallen angels, bored to hell on their piece of rock, had to adapt and put the knowledge stolen from God to good use, created TV and produced a show called Star Trek, which inspired them to invent a lot of things among which the machine that can zap you from one place to another. So they did. As soon as they were at a zappable distance from earth, a group of them decided to come. 
And they came with their great skills and technologies on an island they called Atlantis. From there they decided to go and teach the good words of the lost wisdom (referred to as the hidden book) and to push the human good folks into inventing the telly and new episode of Star Trek. 
So, in their flying saucers (they got zapped with the saucers, no incoherence in my story), they roamed the earth, and gave humans the greatest of their knowledge: Building Walls with stones,  without cement, which in itself is a proof of their extra galactic origin. 
Great places have been build where they stopped, in nowadays Egypt, India, central America and... Great Zimbabwe. The indigenous population was very grateful to the aliens and offered them mating partners in order to accelerate the invention of other useful things such as the zap machine, 3-D printers, the perfect expresso machine, flying saucer, universal healthcare, the secret of happiness and the end of stupidity (my story does not stop here). 
Humans were in any case super happy that the fallen angels had started their teachings by the secret of a great stone wall. Very grateful indeed.
The end of the story is not that nice, God got a bit edgy about all that wisdom and knowledge being shared with the descendent of the vegetarian sinner Eve and poor victim of female tricks Adam, so, with style and without any spirit of vengeance, he flooded Atlantis and spread the theory that is to doubt about the fact aliens are among us, or within us should I say, for these sneaky fellows were more than happy to bring some diversity into the genes of the humans they met. 
It was, however, very unfortunate for Europeans, who, at the time, had followed God's plan and invented cement for their castles. They understood that they missed out on the extraterrestrial parties, and grew frustrated about it ever since. 
SO To make it short, Great zim was indeed build by native zimbabwean, under the leadership and direction of inspired aliens, and that is why, when the english, portuguese and dutch people got there, they were unable not to recognize the touch of the fallen angels, and still utterly frustrated about what they missed, had to work very hard to find all the hidden links between them and the constructions. 

That is the story of Great Zimbabwe. Dare to prove me wrong. Am waiting with a smile.

That is my dad having a nap and baby Elena playing with a wasp 
Elena sleeping, Naomi in her princess dress, Charlie playing with her and Oscar far away, running to be the first on the hill.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

HIFA 2013

Hifa 2013, yey.
First time for me, even though I was proudly wearing a Hifa T-shirt a decade ago, a gift from my then girlfriend that turned into my beloved wife. One thing to say first, is that the Harare International Festival of Arts is one of the best festival I've been to, which is a lot to say since I consider myself as type of expert in that domain due to my huge experience gathered in festivals all over the world. Fine, I kinda went into the desert whist in Beira. Lome and Cotonou were not really on the scene neither. But hey, at the end I can say that I haven't been to such a great festival for the last 10 years. Ha. 
It has theatre, music, DJ (thumbs up for playing that great remixed tune about the eat a huku satisfaction), and other things for all tastes. 5 days were the city accommodates nearly 1500 performers and artists from all over. We've seen opera, classical music, Korean dancers, Irish folk musicians, and we've missed much much more performers from Senegal, England, France etc. The vibes were great, the organization 100%, just an amazing festival all together. 
Next year we'll be there, with some change probably on our program, and lesson learned. For example, kids under 6 (my 4), do not appreciate to sit for 2 hours for a Paris-themed-classical-2-handed-piano-concert, even coming from excellent Dutch performers. The eldest was showing sure signs of boredom, number two snoozed all the way, and I had to get out with number 3 and 4 for recklessness, those little ones preferred to jump up and down a log tree or cuddling in my arms watching the rear end of a police officer instead of listening to Debussy's notes.
Mental note, kiddies need a moving crowd and lots of loud music. They did love the dance moves from the Korean, and went ballistic to the Irish band. 
Other mental note, even if it might bring me to sleep in the sofa for the next month, there is no real need to bring a fully equipped 4x4 pram in that festival. To get it in/out the buses, up/down the stairs and realizing that at the end you just have to leave it behind because you are getting hugely unpopular trying to get your way through to the pit with it. Naah doesn't worth it. Kids have 2 legs and if they don't walk they end up preferring to be carried anyway. 
So Hifa should be on any one with sense' s bucket list. 

One good thing that we also managed to do was to participate to za flash mob. So fun. Lou had the moves right, I had the motivation all right. Nothing else than suddenly popping into a choreography along 6millions other people in front of a bank and a parking in a busy shopping mall, Avondale for the connoisseurs. A well planned Zesa sponsored power-cut helped even those that have been practising in front of their mirrors  for weeks but were still a bit unsure about the public thing to join the group. I was absolutely awesome, I do really stand out on videos, and if not, did feel like a true offspring of  Michael - Jackson (RIP) and a bollywood star who just won a street dance competition live on the strictly come dancing show. No disrespect for He who gave us thriller and smooth criminal but I was so in the act that I actually was moving like one of the zombies fresh out of the grave, whilst everyone else was wiggling like they were somewhere in Hindustan, accompanying the moves of the exhilarated beauty who let her moustached-free hero know that she might be considering blowing him a kiss 3 hours later, if the setting is right and all the baddies dead. 
I should in any case thank the girls that were in front of me for constantly reminding me of the previous correct move. 
So Hifa, next year, cool.

Monday, May 6, 2013

And then I uploaded.

 Finally, I did it! Estoril beach.
Well, I do think that 4 weeks to upload and post a sketch is not that bad after all. I have to recognize the efficiency of the network in Maputo, where I am now, and accept that networks here somehow treat the internet fairy better than in Beira or Harare.
So as posted before, this is the view from Estoril beach, in a bar/chicken restaurant next to the lighthouse. This spot was quite a touristic place before the independence and the war that came after. My parents in law actually came camping here on their honey moon, and i've met some white-haired who, a tear in their eyes, remembering some beach adventures of their youth, are asking how is the hotel don Carlos, Hotel Estoril, their beach bar, camping ground and bandas.
So I tell them that the hotel is full of permanent resident and the beach get busy on the WE. I do fail to mention the BigBoy song contests, and the absence of anything else than the concrete skeletons of their past paradise. It might get back to become a groovy spot one day. All depends of one's understanding of the groove.
It is still a nice place to passear, to have chicken and a beer on a lazy sunday afternoon, watching the commotion of people passing by.

A glimpse of the 929 bar, waiting for a burger of some sort. That bar was amongst the few ones that was screening the world cup outside a couple of years ago. The day Ghana lost and got send out was to be remembered, the atmosphere was electric, beer pouring, and every soul in the place left with a deep sense of frustration. I don't even know if anyone bother to pay their bill on the way out. hmm. 
Now, the screen is showing the latest Micasa or Beyonce video, some game of football and the bar has since been painted, renovated and if it is not a posh place, it is definitively not the derelict sand pit it use to be.

Triathlete are tough.
Mozambican style triathletes are beasts.
the cycling part with 100kg attached on a chinese made bike, for 40 km on soft sand roads is just to select the truly motivated guys. Never seen a women competing, probably because the are busy plowing the land, feeding the family, fixing the house and getting cash for school fees. hm. So the cycling is not for chicks.
Then there is the dugout challenge. Days on the ocean, in a flat- bottomed canoe, with a paddle. Sounds easy. The canoe is damn heavy, the paddle is tied up with an electric cable and the water is pouring inside by the holes. And you are supposed to fish. haha. Those fishermen are mega beasts. they are standing in the boat, facing the waves, and speeding up in the direction of the ocean. I tried something similar, sitting down in my super light sea kayak, with profiled paddles, and could not catch up with them. It was actually quite a challenge just to stay in the kayak.
Then again I am neither a sportsman nor a boat freak and my handicap should not serve as a comparison.
Then, third and worst of all, is the 20 meters ATM challenge, the only one really open to women. It can take a day. Queue jumping is hazardous. Some of the ATM competition prove very popular, the best one is held the week before Christmas, and minor ones at the end of each months. Cities will come to a standstill, businesses are made in the lines, people are socializing, and the reward is sometime worth it, if the machine does not run dry, if there is cash on the account and if your card dos not get eaten because you failed to remember the code, or decipher properly the code your brother wrote down     
The winner is Zed, a 25 mtn (0,7usd) headache muti, made and bottled by an ethanol plant that went in partnership with a factory that makes artificial gin and pineapple flavour. If you happen not to enjoy fake pineapple flavour, they also have a great choice of coloured spirits, with obscure reference to whiskys, gins, rhums and vodka, and absolutely amazing names such as Tentaçao, Choice, tipo tinto, Knock Out, El Salvador etc. They are so good that a friend, Spike, keeps on asking for me to bring him samples and refills. Although there is definitively a market for plastic booze in zim, I am not to sure i want to start to bring these as a business, the promotion, tasting and socializing after a bottle might just be too much for me. I'll leave it to Spike and will make sure I never ring him before 4 pm.

 On my way to Harare, 2 hours from Beira is Inchope, with kids selling coke and cashew nuts.  Half invading the car. Good thing is that the nuts are really good and the coke is really cold, which is a must for the rest of the trip. Coming from Beira it is the reward for being alive and having done the worst of the journey. Getting there it feels like our last meal before 160km of potholes, rocks, gazillion of trucks and greatly qualified drivers.
Some say the Top Gear crew came to see if they could make a show and challenge on that road and decided it was just too difficult so left.
Other say the US army has a secret program there, testing the strength of all their newest all-terrain vehicles, including the Moon Walker and Mars Rider. But people are also talking a lot of shit nowadays. The one true thing is that whether you crossed or have crossed the beira-inchope strip, a coke and nuts are a must.

Baby Elena,
she was 4 month when i did the sketch of her on the bed, now she is 5 and just had her first tooth. She is so chilled and sweet. Love her so much.

these are not dragons, nor okapis, nor rhinos. these are not endangered species, but these are really cool and should deserve a Love the Lizard campaign. They have bright electric blue tails, not like their cousins in west africa, bragging with their red and yellow tails. 
These lizards are flash. 
Birds and predators must think that eating one of them should be like swallowing a wiggly neon light on speed. Not something you are looking for, even if you're a reptile-eating bird. 
My kids have done an interesting experience with the lizards. they scientifically tested and came to the conclusion that these reptiles love fanta-grape better than a cola, and show interesting levels of running around and energy after having had a sip of the beverage. Males will defend fiercely their source of the fizzy drink, even accepting loosing their females who will be promptly victims of abrupt courtship from outsiders. Ethology from the perspective of a 6 years old is gripping and super interesting.