Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Potholin' it, Mozambican style

This year's Christmas was a unique one as our gift to each other was a trip to Mozambique to spend time where Ben served his mission. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." I love that I used that exact line in describing our 2-month backpacking trip to Asia too...but that's how it goes when you visit 3rd world countries on a shoestring. We have some seriously good stories that will just have to wait to be told in person...writing them here just wouldn't do them justice. Mozambique is a fascinating place. It's so beautiful. The pristine coast-line, untouched jungles, and endless stretches of palm trees make it one of a kind. We literally drove our little car all the way up the coast, 20 hours of driving one-way, with at least 4 hours being the worst roads imaginable. Angels definitely carried us over those stretches because potholes that big could swallow cars.

Note: It was just too dang hot to get my nice camera out and use it. We really thought it would just melt, so we used our small not-so-good one.

We started our adventures by getting pulled over near Kruger (still in SA) for passing a massive diesel in a small stretch that was a solid line (even though driving lines and rules are completely disregarded here by all public transport...basically, they wanted bribes). Ben worked his magic and was able to talk his way out of the ticket by generously offering the cop an endearment (a small South African mint - I know you're proud of him Jon!). We then made it across the border illegally with our little rental car (which isn't supposed to go into Mozambique). Shh! I guess we hope Avis doesn't read this blog! :)

First stop, Maputo (the capital of Moz) where we saw the Massango family (we were also able to see them in April here):

We stayed our first night camping on the church's property where they will soon be building a new chapel in Matola. It was an adventure, that's all I'll say:) Then the road trip really began. We drove to Tofo first, which is a good 7 hour drive (with 2 hours being covered in potholes the size of planets). I wish I could have taken a picture of so many things we saw. The taxis and buses are packed higher than you can even imagine, and all of them had goats tied to the very top, probably 50 feet in the air! So funny. Here are some of the things (of many) that we saw on the way.

Bath and laundry time at every river:

This billboard began my great exposure to the millions of black bottles and open culture of this country:

We camped in Tofo for 3 nights, the first night being so awful it's just one of those hilarious stories we'll tell (we probably have 50 of those kinds of stories from this trip). It was so dang hot, and our tent has minimal ventilation, but you can't keep the windows open because of all the mosquitos and bugs. We were trying to sleep when all of a sudden it started pouring rain. Our "smart" tent was built such that you have to get OUT of the tent to actually zip up the windows. So Ben had to get out and get SOAKED and then get back in our TINY tent, so hot, wet, and miserable. Oh it's so funny now. The bathrooms and showers were broken almost everyday which was cool too. Pretty typical. The beach was really beautiful and I've never felt sand so soft. We stupidly got really sunburned, like we always do, our first day on the beach.

Here's Ben playing soccer with the locals:

One morning at 4:30am, Ben went fishing Mozambican-style with some locals. He said is awesome and cool to see how they make a living, but that he was semi-miserable due to being in the HOT sun for 6 hours on a tiny boat without any proper seating. He came back exhausted, stinky, sore, and sunburned.

But he got a Baracuta!

There were so many little blue jelly fish on the beaches and in the water. Ben would go around popping them (yes, they sounded just like bubble wrap) with his heels and he talked me into doing one. So I did, but what are the odds that a small broken sharp shell lay just beneath the jelly fish. Thus leaving a hole in my heel that killed and continued to hurt worse and worse everyday. I couldn't even walk on it for a couple of days. Ha. That was fun too.

The burn:

After Tofo, we drove to Vilanculos, which is another long stetch but a cute, quiet local beach town. We stayed at this campground and decided to bag the tent and just use our mosquito net, which we did for the rest of the trip. Oh it was so much cooler. You still sweat all night mind you, but we at least got some breezes in here and there. It was here that we have a hilarious "squirts" story...but who wouldn't when you're in a place like this?

We did a snorkeling, day-trip out to the Bazuruto Archipelago island which was AMAZING. It was the best snorkeling I've ever done. There was a current which would carry you from one end of the island to the other, all one had to do was float around while looking at fish and coral. I didn't have to kick at all. It was awesome. Those fish are SO COOL!

We saw dolphins! There were 6 of them that just hung out all day by us on the beach. It was nice of them.

One of the most beautiful beaches I've ever been to. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Now we're to Monday, Dec 21st. We spent this day driving all the way to Beira, where Ben spent most of his mission. You definitely don't go up there to vacation or sight-see, only people-you-know-see. Everyone we told we were going up there said, "WHY?"

Ben in Beira. I saw this spot where they did baptisms. So neat.

Another side note, we wanted to go to Marrumeu, Ben's favorite place in the remote jungle north of Beira, but it's an 8 hour trip on roads like this:

So we didn't.

To all Ben's companions who will LOVE this. We stayed our first night at Biques on the beach! This is where all the missionaries would (and still do) come to play football and frisbee and eat pizza on P-days. And there they were, 6 missionaries playing football on the beach. It was fun to meet them. There are so many Elders there! They were everywhere!

Ben ran into Raimundo Candieiro, one of Ben's buds from his mission. It was fun to meet him and his wife and cute baby. They invited us over for traditional chima and caril (sauce) meal which was actually SUPER good. I loved the sauce. The chima, which is basically just whipped corn flour, is kind of like mashed potatoes but tasteless.

Tuesday night we went over to see Manuel & Iris Domingos and their 3 boys: Belton, Ailton, and Carlton. They are probably Ben's favorite family from the mission. Manuel was Branch President for a long time in Manga and they are SUCH a strong family. And they made it to the Johannesburg Temple to be sealed as a family in 2007!! Ben was so happy. They fed us some good food too. It was so fun to meet them.

(Boys in front: Ailton (11), Carlton (6), and Belton (13), also a boy that they take care of, Zeca)

Here are the boys when Ben was on his mission, Belton on the left and Ailton in the front middle. The little boy that's flexing is Nandinho (he used to live with them. The family takes in kids without families for a couple years each. It's really cool).

And here are they now. Carlton is the addition in the middle.

Belton is the cutest little man. We love him. He was so happy to see Ben and smiled the whole time we were there. Here they are looking at something Ben had given them when he left his mission. Belton cherishes it, it's so cute.

Here is Manuel and baby Carlton who is now 6!

We had a lot of fun teaching the kids songs on the piano:

Wednesday we went to Manga! One of Ben's favorite places. This is the old chapel, in the back where they would do baptisms:

And the chapel back then from the front with a bunch of people that I now know!

And the AMAZING new chapel that was just opened the week we came:

Look how big and beautiful!!! And that is Zito Maingue, the coolest kid ever that Ben taught and who served a mission in Mozambique recently.

The chapel:

There were some cool missionaries there, including Elder Ujembe who is albino on the right and the 2 in the middle just got mission calls.

And where Ben and his comps used to get their manna from heaven (bread). Ben claims that Matson (yes, Ben spelled that) and Robertson will be particularly jealous of this!

After a bit at the chapel and in Manga, we went to Inhamizua, and left our car where Ben used to live as a missionary, Motel Bispo:

Amazingly, the workers and gardeners remembered Ben! It was so fun. Ben said he and other missionaries have fond memories of this dart board and that one may even have fond memories of the pool just outside...

After we left our car, we walked around and headed to the chapel there (which is super small and actually part of an old member's house). We had heard there was a Christmas party going on that night. This was one of the coolest, neatest, most touching experiences of my life. We walked up and saw the room and everyone sitting while the missionaries were giving a lesson or something. We walked in and and a couple of people gasped and covered their mouths, and as soon as Ben pointed to one of them, Luisa, it was instant chaos. I'm even getting emotional again writing it, it was so special. We totally disrupted whatever was going on, but the missionaries understood:) Everyone just shot up and ran over to Ben, hugging and crying and screaming. They were in total shock. We got way too many pictures to post, but he saw Inacio, Tomo, Joaqueiro, Luisa (from the Misquito), Luciano, Domingos, Maria de Conceicao, Adelia, Constancia, and Samuel and Grinha.

It was SO neat to see and meet Samuel Mulape. He was one of Ben's favorites, but he had heard that he was less active so he wanted to find him. It was such an awesome surprise to see him there at the activity! Very active and married to Grinha (who he taught and baptized) with a baby! These people, if I could just tell you how happy they were and those big smiles on their faces when they saw Ben, AND Ben's face! Wow, it was magical. We stayed all night, joined the games and lessons, and talked forever after. I can't even tell you how HOT IT WAS! Oh gosh. I have never sweat so much in my life. It's just constantly dripping from everywhere, even my elbows!

Thursday we spent the day with Mussage, an awesome kid who served a mission too. And he knows English fluently so it was really fun for me as well. I could understand almost everything Ben would say with people in Portuguese, but I definitely couldn't say much. So it was nice to have a break and speak English. He is such a good guy.

That night, he and Ben and Zito went walking around Manga and visted a couple of people while I rested from the heat and did some editing from a lot of photo shoots I had before I left. They had a lot of fun.

Christmas Day wasn't anything too special. We actually splurged and stayed the rest of the trip in an A/C room, which was so nice and made the trip SO much better. It was just too hard to start every day sweating all night and waking up at 4:30am with the sun. It was well worth the $40 bucks a night to splurge for Christmas. Pretty much we stayed inside enjoying NOT sweating all day and had a "nice" dinner out at Tropicana, a place where Ben and his comps would go and get the "pizza surprise" (they'd order the same pizza but it would come out different every time, which I quickly learned is what they do everywhere). It was here that, while on his mission, Ben bit into a burger and had a dead cockroach surf out in the burger juice.

Saturday we went to a baptism in Manga and stayed with the people and missionaries for a while. Then we walked around Inhamizua ALL day. It was awesome, but I can't describe the heat. It was unbelievable. It was so fun to be walking in the jungle and around their huts and have someone scream out when they recognized Ben.

Back in the day:


Ben in Inhamizua back then, getting materials for the house they built for Maria de Conceicao, a sweet, crippled member. Ben had an article in the Ensign about the house and experience too.

The house then:

The house now!!

That night we walked around and chilled with Samuel Mulape and his family, as well as some other local young men. P.S. For those of you the know the infamous "MARIA STORY," I met her!! She's now 15 and she's the one next to Ben with the yellow headband!!

Here is Joaqueiro (right) and Samuel (left) back in the day. Alves is in the middle, but I didn't get to meet him because he is living somewhere else in order to go to school.

The boys now (Joaqueiro, Zito, Samuel, Ben, and Inacio):

I had a weird thing going on in my mouth. Of course, I'm the one that gets everything wherever we go. Ben never does, lucky! But I got all these sores and this thick layer on the top of my tongue started coming off. It did not feel good and it was weird and discolored. I thought I was dying from some weird disease. Okay, not really, but it was weird. Don't worry mom, I'm fine now.

Sunday we went to church in Manga and thanks to Mussage, gave a talk and a testimony. Ben gave a great talk on the Savior and I bore my testimony. It was funny though because I told Ben I wanted him to translate for me like 3 times, but he thought it'd be a good opportunity for this other guy Felipe to do it, so he did but it didn't go so well... Ha, I said all these funny things and would laugh and then he'd translate and no one would laugh and I would think, "Man, tough crowd." So after I asked Ben about it and he said, "Ya, he didn't translate most of it correctly." Hilarious. They all thought, what a crackhead wife! Oh well! The church was so packed, more than half weren't even members! It was crazy! Our Sunday school class was so packed, it was SO FREAKING HOT. Again, we were as wet as if we'd just jumped in a lake. I'm not even kidding. It was miserable. I don't think I could serve a mission here like Ben did. Maybe as a couple with lots of A/C though!

The famous Herculano is the in photo below (kneeling):

After church we said goodbye to Mussage and Zito:

Monday Ben drove ALL day, 16 hours straight from Beira to Maputo. I can't believe our car made it. We only hit ONE pothole really bad the whole way. We were planning on staying a little longer overall, but Ben saw who he wanted to and we did all we wanted faster than we thought. And there was just no way I could handle the heat and food and driving and crazy people much longer. It's a place that I think you could only come to truly LOVE like Ben does if you've served a mission there:)
Okay, so on our way out we had a very very frustrating (but now funny) experience. The cops are so corrupt there, we were really lucky not to have any more problems than we did. They will pull you over just because you're white. Period. They know you have money, they want it, and they love having power over the white man. But it's worse in the city, which is where we were for a little bit. So we were just driving and came to the intersection below:

Notice the signs on the left, "Do not turn left" / "Turn left"....whatever. That's how streets are here. No one cares or follows anything. There is one light without any arrows and it is a 2-way street. We need to go right. The GPS says turn right. So we wait for our light to turn green, wait for all the chapas (taxis) to run the red light, and then we proceed to turn right. Apparently, there was a police truck, with 6 armed cops in the back of the truck that wanted to run the red light too and did right after we turned. After a while of being stopped at the next intersection, and deciding what they could pull us over for, they turn on their lights, one guy with a massive gun gets out and tells us to pull over. Oh great. So we do and this big macho cop comes up and aggressively tells Ben to get his license and get out of the car. Ben said, "Sir, what did I do?" He just said, "Give me your license!" So Ben did (too bad we didn't have any fake ones made like they did on the mission!). So then Ben leaves with him and he tells him that we weren't supposed to turn right there. Ben was nice for a while, but the cop was SUCH a jerk that Ben started getting mad and it got a bit heated. The cop said we needed to follow them to the courthouse to pay the ticket and wouldn't give him back his license. Ben took the camera and went over and took the picture of the intersection above to prove we didn't do anything wrong, and the cop said, "I'll throw you in jail if you take a picture of us!" Anyway, we got in the car and started to follow them through these awful potholy roads, and stopped at this place, thinking we were there, but the cop said to stay in the car and proceeded to get prisoners out of the back of the truck that were tied up and took them into this prison! Geez man. So then they said, "Follow us!" And Ben said "Can I get my license please?" And he just took off. I'm not kidding, TOOK OFF. He took all these turns and did all these illegal moves and totally lost us within 30 seconds. We had no idea where they went. We searched and found a police station and told them what happened and they just stared at us like, "Cool. Stop wasting my time and get out of here." So we did! We didn't know what to do! I guess Ben doesn't need his license right?? It was so maddening, I can't even tell you.

Okay, so then seriously 5 minutes after leaving the police station, we got pulled over AGAIN!! FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!! Apparently we weren't supposed to switch lanes on a 2-laned street because we wanted to turn right???? We were so fed up and frustrated we just wanted to scream and get out of there. The cop wanted Ben's license of course which we didn't have, so we talked our way out of it and were like "Let's get out of HERE!!" Wow. Fun huh??!! :)

We did get to end on a good note, though, seeing Cumbane, one of Ben's old companions. He's super cool and it was fun to meet him!

Anyway! That's it!! Wow this is a long post. We had such a great time. It was certainly an adventure in all regards, most not even explained in this post, but so fun to see all of Ben's special friends and families. They are amazing people, I love them. I can't believe we only have a few weeks left here!! Wow, time flew. We hope you all had a Merry Christmas and that you have a Happy New Year!!


Whittney Clark said...

Sounds like quite the adventure! Glad you both made it back safe!

Nades said...

Welcome home! so lovely to read your post, looks like you had alot of fun, but at least you ae home safe to. Chat to you soon! X

anna said...

hey! my aunt and uncle are in Mozambique now! They just got there about a month ago maybe, they aren't the presidents there, they are doing a service mission of some sort, I wonder if you saw them! What a small world 'eh? Hope you guys had a merry merry one!

Sarah said...

Wow, how do you do it? At least the high points outweighed the hard parts. Definitely a trip you'll remember forever! Hopefully we'll see you sooN!

Sara said...

So much I want to say about this post, but I'll just say thanks for posting it! Since we won't be going to Mozambique for awhile, it was fun to read about your experiences there! I won't be going in December when we finally do get to go- sounds too hot!
I must admit that through the whole post I was looking for a picture of Maria...

Steph and Brady said...

Wow! This is so crazy! It sounds like quite the adventure! I am glad you guys are okay and had a good time!

Randi Patch said...

I am so jealous of that beach, and all your fun adventures.. Although, I am def. not jealous of that disease on your tongue.. lol. I am glad you are fine though.

C&C said...

i'm surprised she would come near him. your tongue looks crazy (no offense). hopefully you and ben weren't doing too much kissing when you had that goin on!

hilary said...

wow, camille. what an awesome and crazy trip that you'll never forget! fun fact for you: i didn't know ben very well, but i knew who he was and i seriously remember seeing that picture where he's holding those two guys hands just after baptizing them in the ocean in the weber high seminary building! i don't know if you remember that wall they have with missionary pictures, but i totally remember seeing that picture and thinking, how cool! what a fun experience for you to meet all those people he loves from his mission and see the places he lived for 2 years.

hilary said...

oh and i forgot! we saw your cute grandparents in jeff's parent's ward when we were home for christmas. your grandpa even gave a short presentation during gospel doctrine which was awesome and your cute grandma congratulated me on the pregnancy. anywho, they were so sweet and darling and thought i'd share. :)

Kourtney and Nathan said...

What an amazing adventure!! You are so lucky to visit all of Ben's mission areas, that is so awesome to meet some people who's lives he changed and who LOVE him for it! Someday Nate and I will go back to his mission, but luckily we don't have to travel as far! Happy New Year!! I'm sure you'll have even more fun adventures!!

Unknown said...

What an adventure! You guys are so brave it kills me. Happy your safe at home and healthy (I'm the one who always gets sick too). I can't believe your African adventures are coming to a close soon... Oh and that story about Bens license... Ca-razy!!

The Imperfect Pie said...

holy moly; we miss you guys so so so much. I've already dreamed about you both coming home. I got your email but its too late to write HALF of what i have to tell you--mostly just a whole bunch of "holy crap!"'s from all the stories on this blog post. I can't wait to hear the longer versions. we went to a little mission reunion for new years at JR deog's house; we missed you so so so so so much. how amazing you guys got to go back and see all those people. and holy hot. i can't believe your elbows were sweating. love you so much!

Gage and Missy!! said...

Wow! What an adventure you two have been on! how awesome is that, that you got to go back to your husbands mission! That is mine and Gage's goal to go back to his mission! I would love to meet all of Gage's converts, what a neat experience to be able to walk in the same places that you have heard about and meet the people that you have heard about! What an adventure that you will never forget and what a awesome story to tell your children one day! You guys are so blessed and lucky to get to have done some of the things you have done! I love reading about your adventures! Keep them coming!

Haylie said...

I love living vicariously through you! Although you make me want to go out and have some adventures of my own! Love you!