Sunday, July 31, 2011

Farmer-to-Farmer Program: Day 17 - 21 (Mozambique)

My assignment ended in a flurry. After the most intense day of training, the lab members were happy to finally relax and take pictures. The translator and I had to get back to work after the brief respite. Final revisions had to be completed so we could leave the lab with the complete documents - more than 60 pages worth for each copy.

My time with the seed lab was over but not the work. USAID volunteers prepare a detailed trip report to document their experience and observations. Some of it could have been written during the weeks with the lab. However, as training outcomes and future recommendations are a large chunk, I waited to provide the most comprehensive information. This probably sounds arrogant, but the mixture of pride and relief at finishing that slog of writing (and realizing what we had been able to accomplish) felt almost akin to turning in my graduate school thesis.

The bumpy trip back to Beira was the first time I had really been on the roads late. It was easier to understand a news piece I had seen where a single highway accident had claimed the lives of 20 people. Chapas (the local transportation) are packed tightly, bicycles and pedestrians do not keep to the shoulder (people drive on the left), and lights on vehicles or streets are pretty rare. Apparently, the general lack of bicycles I had wondered about in Chimoio were a result of road checks discouraging them because of the amount of accidents they caused. And oh, yeah, we also passed a massive wildfire in the bush, which in the States, would have had camera crews swarming, did not even register a comment from my companions in the truck!

My last morning in Mozambique was spent finishing paperwork at the CNFA office in Beira. It was a quick trip to the bank to exchange Meticais for euros and off to the airport. No one in security questioned the bottle of water in my bag, but careful examination of the two bottles of piri-piri sauce was needed. It was probably strange for them to think that something as common as salt in Mozambique would be a souvenir.

Joburg was freezing again, even armed with my coat from the Chimoio market. I did get a nice surprise (and the supreme envy of my aero-engineer-by-training dad) when I got to board my first A380. There were two jet bridges to board the two floors, so those in first and business classes did not have to mix with the riff raff of steerage, er, I mean, economy. Inside it did not look too much different, except the overhead storage bins were impressively deep, and the sides of the plane were so concave that you got a fishbowl effect with the window. Unfortunately, these observations were not detailed enough for the grilling from my Dad, who even suggested I should have lifted a safety card from the seat pocket in front of me for a souvenir!

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