7 days ago

I spent my last night in Mozambique sat with a hastily tied capalana around my jeans helping prepare food for 70 people. I carried the boiled and peeled eggs in a basin on my head, but steadied by both hands. I collected some water for people to wash their hands in, marvelling at the speed at which it came from the tap, but still unable to carry the not even full bucket the 100 metres to where it needed to be. I served the bread and eggs to each person in turn: 1 roll for the under 5s and 2 for everyone else. I chatted away to people in Portuguese, apologising for my lack of Macua. We ate with the family that hosted us during our first week in Mozambique, in Lichinga, 2.5 years ago, now living in Nampula about 700km away. How much becomes normal in that time, and how much there is still to learn.


A long 7 days ago Rebecca, Andy and I had an abendazole party – each taking our tablet at the same time and toasting to any worms that might have found their way in and who would soon be reabsorbed into our bodies. I reflected that whilst abendazole will get rid of the nasties that have made themselves at home in our bodies in one gulp of a pill, the rest of the things that have changed us will not be got rid of so easily. And of course that is a good thing.


7 days before that we drove away from Milange and our home – the only place we’ve ever been able to personalise a bit and the house we’ve lived in together for the longest. It was an emotional departure which made us thankful for the relationships we’ve been able to form. Little Mira doesn’t quite understand that we’re not coming back but her cuddles have been more frequent and more lingering suggesting an underlying feeling that things aren’t normal. With everything packed up our house seemed to have returned to the shell that greeted us when we arrived – a concrete square space. Except, the bright orange wall remains in the kitchen, a piece of furniture we designed is in the living space, some shells we collected in Maputo 2 years ago are scattered in the bathroom and the curtains I made are still hanging in the bedroom. We’ve left our mark on that little house and in the same way Mozambique has left it’s mark on us. That house will never be quite as it was before we lived there, and neither will we.


7 days before that we started packing up our belongings, sorting the things that we wanted to keep from the things that could be sold, thrown away or donated. As we marvelled at the amount of stuff that we had accumulated we tried to ask what we needed, what was replaceable and what was of significant sentimental value. We tried to strip back and simplify, letting go of things we’d held onto ‘just in case’ making room in our minimal luggage allowance for the things that really make us happy or which help us to live our lives. Life here has made us reflect on our lives in the same way. It is sometimes important to go through a process of prioritisation and give ourselves the space to focus on the things which make us happy, the people that are important to us and the causes the motivate us and give us purpose.



  1. Beautifully written Joanne. Very heartfelt. Perhaps you are on your way to Australia now. El is already there. I hope she has been in touch and that you get to meet. Safe travelling and enjoy your post Mozambique experiences which will, no doubt, be very different. Sending you both much love and peace. Jane

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