|On the road again!|
|The Dream Team|
|Checking out techniques|
The hundreds of pictures we took (thanks to Ashlea and Sarah for sharing their photos) will help tell the story as I was enthralled from the moment we got out of Pemba until our return four days later. Our first stop was in the district of Quissanga where we set up headquarters in the guesthouse in Bilibiza. From there we visited newly planted machambas, more established groups including the Greenbelt Movement, and had the opportunity to sample some of their products fresh from the vines.
Our transport to each household was via the back of the AKF pickup and we trekked through brush and vines to get to the homes and fields. After a full day of learning and observing about the challenges and successes of agriculture in Cabo Delgado and a lot of sunshine and walking, we ate a giant meal in the AKF guesthouse of galinha makua, xima, matapa, okra and beans and freshly boiled corn. After our basin baths, we explored the bustling nightlife of Bilibiza which was a baracca with one kind of cold beer and music videos from the early 1990s.
The next day dawned bright and early (with the help of our breakfast of champions) for trips deeper into the villages of Quissanga district where we parked the truck on the side of the road and trekked into the bush to the machambas. More information about elephant attacks, irrigation problems, and how useful mulching is. First tastes of baobab and a pitstop for bajiyas and buns served to us through the car windows from women on the side of the road. After our work was done in the inland portion of Quissanga, we headed to Quissanga Praia for a few more home garden visits and spot checking recipients of goats and chickens through the livestock program.
|Matabichu (breakfast) of Champions|
Ricoffy instant coffee (actually chickory), Coke in a glass bottle, and bajiyas in a bun
|Best Bike Name Ever (and the rural roads are packed with them)|
|Baobab tree fruit - definitely an acquired taste|
|Fresh buffalo meat|
|The use of sisal fencing is one technique promoted by AKF |
to deter animal attacks, especially elephants.
This section of the machamba was beginning its fence planting.
|Planting sisal to ward off animal attacks in Senhor Celestino's machamba|
|Senhor Mustafa and the machete that cleared our path to the machamba|
|Just another day at the office; carrying a full tree on your neck|
|Riding in the back of a pickup makes me feel like the coolest person in the world.|
|Welcome to the Termite Lodge|
|Pounding rice husks|
|Preparing the evening meal|
|Bringing in the day's catch in Bilibiza|
|Picked from the machamba that day and boiled as an appetizer in the AKF guesthouse|
|Big friendly giant|
|More discussion about irrigation in Bilibiza|
|Another mitigation strategy for elephant attacks|
(and a great photo op)
|Green pepper plant|
|An afternoon break over more Ricoffy|
|The bright lights of Bilibiza|
|I will never take a stove for granted|
|Magic baobab tree|
|The machamba of this family in Quissanga|
|Background to a machamba and something out of a children's storybook with the winding river and cliff|
|The sweetest red pepper I have ever eaten|
|Green pepper and baby okra fresh from the stalk |
(pimento verde e quiabo)
|The majority of the communities follow Islam but this tree is a traditional prayer and thanks giving site which is combined with Muslim beliefs.|
|Hanging out with Forest Whitaker's twin in Quissanga Praia|
(actually our driver Senhor Abudu)
|Senhor Abudu and Senhor Mustafa in Quissanga Praia|
|Chicken coop in Quissanga Praia|
|Oyster farmers and the source of part of our meal on Ibo Island|
|Leaving the port for Ibo in the AKF boat - not a bad commute!|
We came into port and I felt like I had stepped back in time to a ghost town with old colonial architecture on the verge of crumbling into the ground. The natural beauty with the skeletons of houses is hard to explain in words and pictures but I feel like if you have not been to Ibo, there is a special corner of the world waiting!
|Coming into Ibo|
After the three of us settled into our giant room in the guest house, we explored Ibo with the threat of the setting sun. After fresh Quirimbas lime juice and a cup of Ibo coffee, we raced to Ibo Lodge for my first caipirinha and Ibo sunset. I lay under the setting sun through the mangroves and then watched the stars come out before we had dinner of grilled prawns, the oysters from Quissanga Praia, coconut rice, and more vegetables.
|Discussing techniques for conserving water through the day|
But our journey was not limited to one island; we had more of the Quirimbas Archipelago to explore and we were given the cue by our boat captain that the tide was at the right level to make it to Quirimbas Island. The timing of our visit was dependent on the tides as the boat had to be navigated through the mangroves and low tide would have shipwrecked us. Not a bad commuting problem.
As we approached Quirimbas, I felt like an explorer seeing a world for the first time Our second day on Ibo, we took a boat to Quirimbas Island (all part of the Quirimbas Archipelago) and felt like an explorer coming up to shore for the first time. Our tour of the island was similar to the other locations but we also just missed a huge storm and also got to sit with an agriculture group as they explained their techniques and progress.
Because of our photo shoot of all of us with frangipani/plumeria flowers braided in our hair and watching a goat give birth, we almost missed the tide and the mangroves seemed awfully close to the bottom of our boat. Upon ther eturn to Ibo, we ran to the Ibo Fort where the silversmith artisans work out of. Ibo is famous for their silver jewellery so bargaining skills were put into place until I walked away with a number of new necklaces!
Another big meal and a bit of sadness as I realized that this was our last night in the field and on Ibo. By our final morning, it seemed like the four days of basin baths were beginning to show and Ricoffy was needed even more. After spending our last meticais on jewellery, all we could afford was a visit to the bajiya lady but it was on our route to visit a model farmer and his machamba and learn about the small guest house project they are developing on the island.
The photos of our days and nights spent in Bilibiza, Quissanga Praia, villages on Ibo and Quirimbas Islands, and people’s homes can help describe a magical week spent with amazing company, fascinating work and insight into the hard work of harvesting food from the ground, and the need to hold onto the time on Ibo where I think everyone must leave a little piece of their heart.
|The M&E Meninas|
|Dhow on the way to Ibo Island|
|Rushing to our date with the sunset through streets of Ibo Island|
|Our bajiya dealer on Ibo Island|
|AKF headquarters on Ibo Island|
|One of the artisan groups working with AKF and the craft component|
How convenient that this is part of my job...
|A machamba owner and counsellor to other villagers on conservation agriculture techniques|
This was in their guestlodge project on one side of Ibo Island
|Final field morning required even more Ricoffy|
The black and white photo hides the griminess of 4 days in the field
|Ibo Fort - the archives room where all the bulletins and documents are still kept|
|Mangrove route to Quirimbas Island |
We had to pay close attention to the tide so that we could make it through with enough time to not get shipwrecked
|Glamorous mangrove shot|
|Our trusty captain (one of the few times without a cigarette hanging from his mouth!)|
|Meeting with an agriculture group on Quirimbas Island|
|Coming into Quirimbas Island|
|Green onions waiting for mulching|
|A pomegranate tree!|
|Caipirinhas at sunset|
|Everything depends on the tide so we watched the water |
recede all the back until boats were beached on shore
|Little slice of heaven|
|Relaxing at Ibo Lodge|
|Our Quirimbas Island commute|
|Ibo Fort sunset|
|Bajiyas and pao - breakfast costs 30 cents|
|One of the many types of beans we learned about and sampled.|
|Strolling through Ibo ruins|
|Setting Ibo sun|
The hole in the mangroves was our route to Quirimbas Island the next day.
|Checking home gardens on Quirimbas|
|Quirimbas Island looking out towards Ibo|
|Coffee seedling and proud machamba owner|
|Grilled prawns, the size of a baby's forearm|
|One of the hanging benches at Ibo Lodge|