Our first 3 months as South African Expats in Mozambique. What is it like living here?

I cannot lie to you, I was a bit scared for the move to Mozambique. Mostly because as an extrovert, I was scared that I would be extremely lonely in the middle of the bush.

I had a couple of surprises when coming here. First of all, the middle of the bush is not so isolated as you would imagine. There are literally villages everywhere and we are definitely not alone. Secondly, I could never have imagined the welcoming kindness that we have experienced from both staff members and neighbours and other South African Expats. From local food that is brought to try out, neighbours offering to bring things through from South Africa when they go, a neighbour that never let us leave with empty hands when we pop in for a visit and invitations to a baby-shower of people we did not even know… yet. All I can say is the surprise was pleasant and the loneliness I was so scared of is much less than during the year we were living on the outskirts of Bloemfontein.

We are quite far from a hospital, but in comparison just as far away from a hospital as we have been in most of the other places we have been living. We did have a scary incident which turned out all well, with a bit of a funny twist. One day while my husband was working cattle, his hand got caught between a cow and the cattle crush. Two of his fingers got badly hurt and he radioed to get medical supplies ready. I also got my identification documents and handbag ready for in case we had to drive to Vilanculos for stitches. I am not going into too much detail, but with telephonic help of a medical doctor, we decided that I would use a medical staple gun to close the wound. I practised on an orange and then proceeded to the big moment where I had to put the staple in my husbands first hurt finger. He was very worried and told me to not hesitate and just go through with it. I did, but when I thought the staple went in completely it didn’t and I paused a second and then went through. My husband reacted much milder than I would probably have, but it was clear I put him through extreme pain. Just there and then he refused a second staple for the other finger. There was no way that I was stapling the second finger. So I did the best I could, pushed the skin and flesh into the right position and supported the wound with omnistrip plasters. We covered everything with clean bandages and after two courses of antibiotics and the constant monitoring of a medical doctor, his hand is healed again. (Disclaimer, clearly I am not a doctor. Do not try this at home.)

Another incident that was quite entertaining was a visit to the local market at Inhassoro. (Read: Shopping in Inhassoro) I was busy getting my daughter and some shopping bags out of the car while my husband proceeded to the market so long. As he entered the street a drunken man cornered him and asked for money. My husband gave him a good piece of his mind in Shangaan, a language he speaks which is closely related to the local language. It came down to the fact that he, my husband, wants to support the lady’s shops and now this drunken man is bothering him. The ladies from both sides of the street started cheering on my husband so loudly that the drunk man walked off and I was sort-of embarrassed walking into the market with all that public attention.

On the language front, I am trying very hard to learn Portuguese, but it is a struggle. The other day (on a Thursday) I tried to ask my housekeeper, in Portuguese, if she would be able to work on the coming Saturday, but I was a little concerned that we did not understand each other. Next thing I know she is gone and when my husband went looking for her, she was halfway on her way home. She understood that I gave her off from Thursday and also Friday and she could only come to work again on Saturday. Clearly, I have a bit of work to do on my Portuguese…

To round off all the stories, the bush is beautiful at the moment, lush and green. We are slowly but surely finding our feet and I am looking forward to sharing many more stories from the beautiful district of Govuro.


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