Sunday, July 31, 2011

Two More People in Places

I realize I forgot two people from the people in places of our travels. It is inevitable that I forgot many more, but these two came back to mind as people who deserve special mention.
Being on such an epic and fast-paced adventure has certain consequences. One is that the travelers experience periods or situations when they are a bit… unprepared, unorganized, overall just a complete mess. Our messy period came when we left Zanzibar. We were trying to figure out how to get to Mozambique because the overland visas would take at least a week, one third of our total vacation in wait, and we had a limited budget. We had spent the days in Zanzibar lightheartedly debating our options. One morning, we woke up on the beach, decided to take a flight, found Internet access after a desperate and hopeless search, and booked a flight for that afternoon in only a few hours. The chaos began. We packed, traveled back to Stonetown, caught a ferry to Dar Es Salaam, a taxi to the airport, somehow scrounged up enough cash for our tickets, made it through security and on our flight, and flew to Nampula, Mozambique. We laughed because it was one of a few times in our lives when we have taken a bus, ferry, taxi, and plane, all in the same day. Our laughing turned to worry when we landed in Mozambique and realized we were not carrying enough cash for our visas. In addition, the ATM at the airport was out of service, which we realized is the typical status for ATMs in Mozambique, especially the northern region. What were we going to do? Fortunately, in fact, thank goodness, Sean sat next to a very nice man on the plane who saved our day. We were delayed when checking in for our flight. We asked what the delay was and the attendant informed us that he was trying to seat us together. We said it was okay, we could sit apart, and we received our tickets for seats in different rows. These things have a way of happening and working out. Thank goodness we sat apart and Sean met this man. As we sat at the customs desk, wondering what we could do and to do next, the man asked if we needed help and offered us American cash. At first, we were hesitant, but when every other option failed, we asked him to borrow the money. He gave it to us and we bought our visa. The customs agent snapped a photo of me for my visa that became the second joke of the day. I am a complete wreck and I’m not sure how I survived in that state or how I made it in public or how Sean did not say anything. The photo shows me. I have a bewildered, intense, almost scary (okay, scary) look on my face. My eyebrows are raised, my eyes wide open, my head cocked to one side, my hair a mess, my shirt incorrectly buttoned. What happened to me? After we made it through customs and to our hotel, we took long showers and reorganized ourselves so we were prepared for the second stage of our trip… Mozambique. But, we never would have gotten there if The Money Man had not saved our day, and our trip.
As we were traveling down the coast of Mozambique on the bus, we stopped in a random town in the night. The bus’ headlights were not working and the driver jumped out of his seat to fix the problem. While he was pouring over the engine and dashboard, we got out and grabbed some dinner at a local street stall.
The town was awake. Music was blasting from all the restaurants and bars lining the street. Lights from the same restaurants and bars spilled out onto the road and lit up the night. The town was vibrant. It seemed like everyone was dancing. As we sat at one of the roadside picnic tables, we watched the crowds of people dancing down the streets. Later, as we stood on the side of the road waiting for the driver to fix our bus, a group of girls emerged on the street and began dancing. They were fabulous dancers and I couldn’t understand the movements of their bodies. I began to wiggle in the confines of my roadside stance, slowly moving closer and intensifying my dance. They giggled and we shared a moment of exchange and eye contact before the bus roared, headlights blazing, and we had to run to catch up and reclaim our seats. I’ll never know the name of that little town, but I will remember it and its dancing townsfolk forever.
If I think of any more people deserving of mention, I’ll let you know.

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