September in Mozambique
As a result of a chance conversation at a previous Scifest Africa I spent the week after the Umjikelezo We-Science festival in Mozambique, with Kitchen Chemistry. The whole trip has been an adventure, including the visa application, and with this experience under my belt a subsequent trip will be that much easier!
I set off from Durban after the Umjikelezo We-Science festival to drive to Matola in Mozambique. Originally I was to have taken equipment from Durban with me to Matola, but as things transpired this was not necessary.
Having looked at the map and tried to find out about border crossings I decided on a route, only to be advised (strongly) that my chosen route would require a 4 x 4 with an experienced driver so it was back to the drawing board.
Planning to split the drive over two days I decided to stay overnight in Piet Retief, a small town in South Africa close to the Swaziland border. At this point I learned not to trust my GPS blindly. The road it sent me down to get to the border crossing was dreadful, even for a rural road in S. Africa. (I discovered it was the better option, however, when I drove back later in the week.)
I didn’t know what to expect in Swaziland, but the roads seemed empty, and new roads are being built – in fact they are so new they were not on Google maps – as I found out to my cost! Fortunately the detour was only short. It’s a lovely country, I hope I have the chance to do so one day.
Matola is just outside Maputo to the South. Only the major arteries are tarred roads, and the communities appear to be a network of unmade tracks through areas where residential plots are cheek by jowl with agricultural ones: peanuts, cassava and corn are cultivated.
My accommodation was in a very comfortable bed and breakfast. You won’t find this one on the internet as it seems to be open to personal recommendations only.
My first show was to a homeschool group which nearly turned out to be Kitchen Chemistry in a Kitchen. I got the best ever reaction to the “whoosh” ever. Despite that, the younger ones might just have enjoyed the ice cream at the end of the show best of all.
The next day I performed two shows at Escola Emanuel for two different year groups. The next day we moved on to PiQi International School which was a really inspirational place. A very small school with committed and engaged teachers and an original approach to education, at least for the younger children.
My last two shows were at the Trichardt School in Maputo, my biggest, Mozambican, audiences yet. They very kindly cleared the hall where the exams were being written for me to do the show, then put it all back afterwards.
Of course, all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy. It turned out the Guest House owner was the organiser of the Mozambique Animal Protection Society. As you can see I had the opportunity to visit the dog rescue centre.
It just remained for me to head home, through Swaziland once again to stay overnight at Piet Retief. Then it was an easy four and a half hour drive to Durban Airport. Not only was I able to get there in plenty of time for my flight, but I was able to do some administration of my South African bank account at the airport branch. The ladies there were extremely helpful and managed to sort out everything for me.
I hope to be able to return to Mozambique in March after my next appearance at Scifest, but before that I have a number of things including the Norwich Science Festival to concentrate on.