Forgive my long absence these last weeks! Immediately after closing this term I embarked on an adventure with Jake, the endlessly patient, optimistic and tireless leader of this excursion. Together we went coast to coast, covered over 8,000 kilometers, and explored five different countries in four weeks time. Let me correct the record, Jake drove over 8,000 kilometers; I was “co-pilot”, which meant that I opened his sodas, selected the tunes, daydreamed with the road atlas and demanded rest stops every hour or so.
Now I am back in my little house, in my little village, with the little kids, all of which I actually missed very much. It is really wonderful to come back home, relive all the adventures by sharing stories and showing pictures. The hard thing about coming home this time was saying goodbye to friends along the way. I was fortunate enough to meet wonderful people, but best of all was the old (some older than others) friends in Africa. For me the happiness in many adventures is magnified by the people I shared it with, this trip was exceptional.
At every stage of this adventure Jake and I sat down with incredible people to share a delicious meal (or a few). Meals that were truly unique to each place. I will tell you about my favorite meals, which of course was the home (or camp) cooked ones. What can I say? I love nights spent cooking, talking, and drinking favorite beverages. Every person has a special task, which all culminates to the grand moment when the table is set, the food aromas are mouth watering, and we toast to good food, good friends and the good life. I especially love the sounds of appreciation and enthusiastic second helpings of everyone’s favorites. In each country, even within those countries, the food, the spice, the scenery and even the people changed, but these things were present at each meal.
I will recount to you these wonderful nights from end to beginning, from east coast to west coast, starting with Mozambique and the delicious offerings of the Indian Ocean.
Jake and I picked up two friends, Rachel and Shannon, in Gaborone before we tore out of Botswana and over to Mozambique. We stayed a night in the capital, Maputo, and then set sights on the beach town, Tofo. We arrived late and sick of the road, but ecstatic to be by the ocean. We were happy to find two other PCVs, Jan and Karla, were also staying a few nights in Tofo. We all spent a happy night talking about how much we loved Mozambique already.
Mozambique is a food lovers’ dream. Everywhere there is people selling gorgeous produce, fresh caught seafood, newly baked bread, even hand picked and roasted cashews. There are tons of local restaurants to tempt us in for every meal, but on our second night in Tofo we decided to take full advantage of our camp kitchen and the abundance of wonderfully cheap food and drinks.
The entire menu was purchased at a small seaside, open market. We picked the best-looking veggies and fattest seafood, which had arrived about an hour earlier with the fishermen. We watched in awe as the men skillfully cleaned our choices in minutes, then we paid an outrageously cheap price for the lot.
Starter: Two types of Calamari
- Pan-fried with (home grown, newly pressed and bottled by yours truly*) olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of limejuice.
- Sautéed in red wine. What else can I ask for?
Green, green salad with tomatoes, chickpeas, garlic, olive oil and squeezed lime.
Main meals: Fish Curry and Prawns
- Kingfish and barracuda cooked in (fresh) coconut water, with butternut squash, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, curry, coriander and coconut shavings.
- Pan-fried prawns in olive oil.
(Jake’s) Side dish:
- Pan-fried prawn heads. He swears that sucking out the little fried brains is delicious.
- Fresh baked Portuguese bread rolls, for sopping up every bit of coconut curry juice.
Despite there being six of us, we couldn’t manage to eat it all, so we did the next best thing to eating it; we shared it with fellow campers and the staff at the camp ground. After dinner we all retired to the deck over looking the beach. We drank local brewed rum drinks, rubbed our happy bellies, listened to the waves and counted my lucky stars.
This was an incredible night, but not the only happy one like it. I look forward to going back in time again to share with you another great meal. Next time you will be familiar with the names of guests but less familiar with the tasty treats served up.
All my love,
*More on this fresh olive oil in a later post.