Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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Re: Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot (by mark at 5/09 2:16 PM)
Re: Photo Friday: the kids are all right (by sonia at 1/03 11:20 AM)
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Re: Africa Always Wins (by lacyemartini at 11/05 3:01 PM)
Re: Africa Always Wins (by mark at 11/05 12:01 PM)
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30 November 2012
Photo Friday: thankful for...

On the heels of last week's American Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share this photo from our Moz trip that encapsulates the concept of thanks.

Felixmina and Nosta celebrate
Felixmina and Nosta celebrate their new homes

I took this during the dedication ceremony for the two houses we'd built, which included lots of singing and dancing and words of thanks from Nosta and Felixmina. When was the last time you did something at work/home/anywhere that made someone this joyfully appreciative?

This helps remind me of all I'm thankful for, especially as we barrel through the hectic holiday season.

More-more-more Moz to come, I promise! I am making some progress in wading through the mountain of pics and will be sharing more in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, check out the fabulous travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

* A love note to Team Pedro
* browse all Mozambique posts
* browse all photos from Mozambique and South Africa

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

19 November 2012
A love note to Team Pedro

Before I get into the what (the actual work we did) and the why (the families of Chipenhe village) I wanted to spend a bit of time on the who.

I'm the first to admit that I'm not a "group" person. The idea of getting tossed together with a bunch of random strangers, spending all-day-every-day with these people, engaging in group-think and group-speak... it chafes my nonconformist streak and tends to make me want to run screaming from the room. More than anything else about this trip -- what will we eat? will there be running water? what to pack? -- this group-thing was the biggest unknown factor weighing on my brain.

And then this happened.

Team Pedro works hard and plays hard
Team Pedro works hard and plays hard



our fearless team leader LisaTo say I was pleasantly surprised by our incredible team is the understatement of the year. To be fair, this group was mostly hand-picked by a superlative team leader Lisa, so I shouldn't have been so stunned at how well we all got along. And it takes a special group of people to volunteer their vacation time to fly halfway around the world and work on a project like this. But I've done a bit of casual research on the topic, and this level of bonding seems above-par even for Habitat trips. This was more than simple camaraderie-in-the-wilderness. By the end of the first day, we'd figured out each others' strengths & weaknesses, there was an almost palpable care and compassion for everyone's well-being, and we were joking and laughing together like lifelong friends. Corporate managers would KILL for a textbook high-performance team like this!

Master Mason PedroThe one unfortunate circumstance of our worksite configuration was that the two houses we built were kinda far apart. On the first day we randomly separated into two teams of seven; our group stayed with Master Mason Pedro, and the other group went with Master Mason Lucas. The idea was that maybe we'd shuffle around and mix things up as the week went on. But it became clear by the end of Day 1 that not only were we each invested in building "our house" for Nosta, we all wanted to cross the finish line together, as Team Pedro.


And so, without further ado... Team Pedro:



George never has any fun
classic Giorgio speak English, man

A big man with a big heart, and one of the most effortlessly funny people I have ever met. The village ladies loooooooooooooved them some Big Poppa. And he's a foodie blogger to boot! I lurve this man.

Hanine snaps another brilliant photo
you could almost put her in your pocket welcome to the gun show

So much grace in such a small package! One of the few non-Americans on the team, she's a Lebanese fashion designer and entrepreneur, and a gifted artist. She got the most amazing people-pics of the beautiful people of Chipengue. And you can already hear the wheels turning about how we're going to work in a trip to Beirut to visit her as soon as we can.


Lovely Lacye
Lacye with Nosta┬┤s kids heyyyyyy!

I have to fess up to completely misjudging this girl as a high-maintenance diva. Nothing could be further from the truth! She's hardworking, smart, and compassionate, and hilariously sassy-funny. Girl's got grit. I can still hear her Southern "heyyyyyyy!" echoing in my ears.


The day Lacye MacGyver'd this ramp so we could wheelbarrow-race a ton of sand onto the floor of the house... a total classic, and one of my favorite worksite moments.

Sean & Inger 
twooo wuvvvv f'reals

Sean rocks the massa
Inger builds a sandcastle
Mark and Inger <3

Definitely our peeps. I was so touched by their openness and honesty. These are genuinely good-to-the-core folks. On our last van ride from the work site back to the lodge, Inger bust out with this amazing heartfelt speech about how working with us had made her a better person, and my eyes still instantly well up just thinking about it. Sean's construction experience (and subsequent bromance with Pedro) helped the rest of us make the transition from bumbling computer jockeys to slightly-less-bumbling worker bees.

Sara has the Best.Hair.Ever.

worksite chic

Our Habitat "handler" and translator, a bookkeeper in Maputo by day. I have never seen a bookkeeper with cooler hair, and probably never will. She worked harder than the rest of us combined, and pushed us to do our absolute best every day. Most importantly, she taught us all how to properly execute the Mozambican version of "oh no you di'int!" aka "na-na-ni-na-NAO!"

practicing our nao

Apologies to the rest of our awesomesauce team, I don't mean to shortshrift ya. George did a much more egalitarian job of describing everyone in his last post. Rounding out the magnificence, we have...

The inspiring mother-daughter duo Kristin & Stef
Kristin Stef

Ironwoman Peg

Nurse Maureen

Redneck Dave

Princess Philippe

And our Habitat wrangler, the indomitable Sylvia

I miss you all! When can we have a reunion??? I'll bring a case of real-sugar Coke!

PS. Of course Mark was a part of this team, too. Hopefully y'all know how I feel about him by now. :) There will be plenty more pics of him working and interacting with the kids, in future posts to come!

* view the rest of the pics of the team
* view all Africa pics (a work in progress)
* browse all Mozambique posts
* PhotoFriday: Kruger safari
* Africa Always Wins


Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

09 November 2012
PhotoFriday: Kruger Safari

take the long way home
take the long way home

As I alluded to in my last post, our Africa trip was not all hard work and grappling with serious issues. There was serious fun, too! At the start of the trip we managed to fit in a one-day safari to Kruger National Park, in South Africa.

canoodling zebras
canoodling zebras

Despite the frigid cold and pelting rain (part of the charm of traveling in an open vehicle) we managed to see a lot of cool stuff, including four of The Big Five* and lots of other fascinating flora & fauna. .

trotting warthogs 
trotting warthogs!

Our guide Sibusiso was an absolute expert at spotting random stuff from incredible distances, and seemed to really enjoy sharing his knowledge even with just the two of us huddled under blankets in the back of the enormous jeep

spotting rare leopard spots
spotting rare leopard spots
(if you squint hard you'll either see a spaceship or one of its blue eyes peeking out of the foliage)

a pachyderm family affair
a pachyderm family affair

* The Big Five:
1. elephant
2. rhino
3. water buffalo
4. lion
5. leopard

We saw everything but lions, which apparently prefer not to come out in the pelting rain. Smart cats.

 one of several entrances

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday. And there are plenty more safari pics where these came from.

* browse
all Mozambique posts
* browse all Kruger pics

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

05 November 2012
Africa Always Wins

me and my new Moz boyfriends
me and some of my new Moz boyfriends

More than a week has passed since we've returned from our Mozambique adventures, and I'm still trying to process the experience. One of our teammates did a great job encapsulating the week into a single post, but I think it's going to take me some more time and work to find the right language. Plus I have like a million photos to go through. :)

oh, the places oktapodi will go
oh, the places oktapodi will go

Months back, when we first started talking about this trip, two good friends who'd done time with the Peace Corps nodded sagely and said simultaneously, "AAW!" Big smile. "Africa Always Wins."

Sheila is excited about her new home

Yes, I can vouch for this. Africa does provide more than its share of forehead-slapping moments. Like when the only functioning ATM accepts Visa cards, not the MasterCard you'd counted on using. Or hearing the whine of a  mozzie, right next to your head, *inside* the carefully-draped gauzy netting around your bed.

But the real AAW comes from something deeper. Africa always wins because it gets inside your heart and soul, with its warm friendly people, its powerful landscapes, its sense of time standing still and rushing forward headlong simultaneously. Overlay that with a week spent working side-by-side with some of the most compassionate, funny, smart, strong people I've ever been randomly thrown together with, on a project that literally changed lives, and maybe you'll understand why every attempt to describe this trip quickly drowns in a sea of hyperbole.

Team Pedro works hard and plays hard
Team Pedro works hard and plays hard

Coming back to reality has been harder than I'd expected, too. Reverse culture shock after visiting the third world -- like standing dumbstruck in front of 17 different brands of toilet paper in the grocery store -- is something I'm used to and thought I was prepared for. But somehow this has been different, probably because we weren't just visiting a place and then strolling away to the next lovely spot on the map. We built something tangible, we connected with the people whose lives we were able to help change. Coming back to this past week of Frankenstorms and bowls full of Halloween candy and election politicking has been a real challenge. "Walking in two worlds," I'm told they call it in Habitat circles, and that sums it up nicely. Everything's the same, but different. Moreover, I'm different, but still the same.

Nosta and Felismina celebrate their new homes
Nosta and Felismina celebrate their new homes with a song/dance

We've been telling people this trip was a play in three acts: safari, Habitat build, scuba. I'm going to attempt to break it down a little further, into manageable themes, in my puny effort to make sense of it all. Don't worry, I promise to tell all about the fun parts too! Because we did have fun, we had an absolute blast... it was a grand adventure on an epic scale.

* browse
all Mozambique-related posts
Kanimambo Means Thank You
Oh, The Humanity, Part I: Just Passing Through

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments