honest bones

fishpeixe grelhado – i sing the praises of this dish, in Mocambique and along Lake Malawi a large hand-sized fish, chambo in Malawi, grilled and eaten with xima. Real fish, skin, flesh, bones, honest bones that don’t hide, hard, easy to find, remove and forget.

Not like some finicky fish with prissy, complicated skeletons, for every bone you find there lurk others, hoping to slip past teeth and tongue, down into the gullet where they stick and you gag.


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“There’s gold in them thar hills.”

Yosemite Sam

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

At the northern end of this ramshackle resort is a fenced in compound of South African gold prospectors, a gated community here along the Moçambiquan coast of Lake Nyasa, complete with a trained posse of local factotums that man the gate and iron and cook and clean and wash and assist out in the field. Occasionally they also get fall down drunk together with their employers, and at these times, the locals learn some English.

On Saturday night, after a few drinks with Wonderful and the Gang, they loosen up and show off their newfound English.

– Fuck you, says Isaac matter-of-factly to Santos, the bartender. Santos uncaps bottles of 2M, ignores Isaac.
– Fuck you, again, louder this time. Giggles all round.
– Fuck you pussseeeeeeyyyyy, a yell in Santos’ face who continues unperturbed.
– Fuck you, fuck you muthafucka!!

Hilarity all round. Hand-slapping, fist-knocking laughter and talk – all in Portuguese.

– Cunt!
– You cunt!
– Hey, you, fuck you cunt!
– I like it! I like it, screeches Wonderful,
well in his cups,
having guzzled down
three 500ml tetrapacks
of godawful red wine
and busy with a fourth.

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Chuanga – Fri 30May to Mon 1Jun

This has been my favourite spot in Moçambique. Quiet swell off the lake comes onshore and collapses with a swish. Dinky little breakers, perfectly formed, but, well, tch, small you know, max tube height say 30cm, surfing for little people.

The sun is hot, tempered by a slow cool onshore breeze.

On Monday evening Senhor Katawala flings his hand across the darkening vista from my porch, the lake, the breeze, saying “Clima esta muito bom”.

Mistakes in the bill at the bar on the beach are innocent errors of arithmetic.

My cottage porch faces the shoreline with its cute little breakers, one every 2 to 3 seconds, swish…….. swish……. swish…… around 10m away. The menu is peixe grelhado con xima, the beer is 2M, there is a refreshing lack of servility about the place.

The day i leave Senhor Katawala tells me to hang out, relax, keep an eye on the Lake to the north mid afternoon for the Ilala ferry. Sighted shortly after three, he drives me into Metangula to catch it.

Sen. Gabriel Katawala
The chief of Cobue
Wonderful and the Gang
Emmanuel Abondio
Mr Chirindza
Luis Mussa
Mr Katundu

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Blantyre, Monday, June 8 2009

sunset_dhow_bookmarkThings get out of kilter when you travel further than the blog has.
Along the way poor discipline, no electricity, no connectivity…
and so i’ve fallen behind.

I am already in Blantyre, it’s high time i put up some pop music samples from Mocambique.
Here are some snippets.

Fanny Mpfumo (2.8mb)

Anita Macuacua – Tsakany (1.5mb)

Joaquim Macuacua – Amisaveni (1.6mb)

Fanny Mpfumo – Leswiwene (1.9mb)


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My camera (No! Henks camera – kindly borrowed from and entrusted with) has been stolen out of my backpack. Don’t ask, i persevere, from hereon the cellphone will have to do, i will push murky images through filters so they look different. Another place and time. Old pictures found in an attic.

Beyond that internet access is harder to come by heading west towards Lake Malawi. Here in Lichinga though, there are two excellent facilities, one run out of a pretty free standing building along Ave Samora Machel that, the other just down the road (diagonally opposite Residencial 2 in 1 where i slept last night), the upstairs of a restaurant, a proper internet cafe, six shiny black terminal workstations complete with headphones for skyping and serving excellent espresso. So this impromptu post while i wait for the 10h00 chapa to take me back down to Metangula on the lake. What? Back down? Yes, there are major gaps in this narrative. i have travelled west from Ihla to Nampula by chapa  (where the camera was stolen), then a ten hour journey by train the following day to Cuamba, then immediately onto another chapa that takes me onto Lichinga, a very bumpy crowded journey, arriving after 21h30. Then the next day to Metangula on Lake Malawi where i discover that cell phone reception is clear, but no more ATMs, forcing me to return to Lichinga yesterday late afternoon to tank up on meticals. This last journey a lift with Roman Catholic missionary workers (Kenya Daniel and two mission sisters) down by the lake for a leisurely Sunday lunch, visit to the local mission station and purchase along the way back of staples galore, two 50kg bags of beans, around 60kg of potatoes…

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school’s out



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stone town


Many more pictures will follow.

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