Blogging Mozambique

Losing My Baggage - Anne-Marie Graham - June 2010

Anne-Marie Graham is a Saskatoon Physiotherapist, a partner in Bourassa and Associates Rehabilitation Centre  and teaches at the School of Physical Therapy at the University of Saskatchewan.Anne- Marie is being hosted by the Training for Health Renewal Program n Mozambique.

After almost one year of language preparation, planning, hoping and dreaming I left Saskatoon on May 26 2010 for Mozambique. I'm here with the Making the Links program as part of a visiting delegation from the University of Saskatchewan. After two overnight flights I touched down in Nairobi in the continent of my dreams, hopes and aspirations. I rechecked my bags in Nairobi for the start of my itinerary. From Nairobi I travelled to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania capturing a stunning image of Mount Kilimanjaro along the way, my first shots on the new digital camera a friend had carefully help me select before departing on my trip. After a few misadventures in the airport in Dar Es Salaam it was on to Pemba and my final destination of Nampula, Mozambique.

I arrived safely in Mozambique and was warmly greeted by two physicians from Saskatoon, Dr Ryan Meili and his wife Dr Mahli Brindamour-Meili. My carefully packed bags, however, were nowhere to be found. So there I was, my first night in Africa with two people I had met only once before and only a small backpack on my shoulder.

Several trips back and forth to the Nampula airport took place over the next several days trying to locate my lost luggage. There were multiple forms, phone calls as well as trips to the travel agency all steadily navigated by my trusted companions and friends in Mozambique. One week after leaving Saskatoon my only outfit is still a tattered skirt that I had purchased for eight dollars off a clearance rack at Winner’s.

One could be distressed, even obsessed, with the situation or one could just let it all go. After all that was one of the objectives of the voyage -to surrender- to let the wind take you where it is going.

So I chose the path of the wind and let myself land softly into the rhythm of life here. I arise early every morning to wash my only shirt and hang it up to dry along with the women of Nampula who are doing the same thing on the surrounding apartment balconies.

With no sight of my baggage I head to “Fashion World “ with Mahli where the salesperson chooses a bright orange shirt to accompany my new skirt selection. I feel strangely at home in my new African colors.

My camera battery faded on the flight over. I briefly mourn the fact that the battery charger is packed away in my elusive baggage, but I am once again presented with an opportunity. I discover the rich and vivid images that surround me with wide-open eyes instead of trying to seek them from behind the camera lens. I drink it all in.

And so I continue to wait for news from the airport without any of my prior restlessness. I am liberated by my lack of processions. If my luggage does not arrive I will simply head to the local market, Meticais (the local currency) in hand, to buy a capulana –the traditional wrapped dress of this region that most of the women wear.

I will cocoon myself in my new capulana, grateful to be here and to those around me, especially to the special few who helped me get here.

I feel the wind gentle on my face. I walk slowly amongst the people. My bags can wait. Estou aqui. (I am here)

Estamos juntos
We are together.

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