A Traditional game called Bawo

Hey!

My name is Markus(but the usually call me Benjamin here in Malawi), I’m 20 years old, I’m a percussionist and I live in a small town called Nkhotakota. Life here is very different here compared to Lilongwe in my opinion. There you’ll find everything to be so stressed and rushed, while here in Nkhotakota life is a bit more relaxed.

I work at Nkhotakota Youth Organisation(NYO) where we offer different classes for youth, and we also have a Culture Center for the younger kids where we focus on music and traditional dances. While I have instrumental lessons with the students here at the center and also are planning for the Nkhotakota Music Festival (27th of April, don’t miss it if you are in Malawi at that time!!), I also have fallen for a very fun game that is quite common here in Malawi called Bawo. This post will be dedicated to Bawo, and I will try my best to explain how it works.

So, the concept of Bawo is that you have 4 rows of 8 small pits, two for you and two for your opponent. The point of the game is to steal you opponents marbles from your inner row, and protect your HOUSE(more on that later). So, the way the game works is that you always add a marble to one of the already put marbles on the board, no matter if you steal or if you don’t(more on that coming as well). Then you can choose whether to go right or left. Then you pick up the pile that you get on either side and walk inwards. You will then end up in a pit that hopefully have another marble. Then, if the pit on your opponents side have marbles you steal and start on your outer pit that you came from. Each player have 32 marbles each. Aand the point of the game is to steal all your opponents marbles from the inner row. When one of the players are out of marbles in the inner row, then you have won!

Within the pits you have a “house” where you place 8 marbles. The house is essential in the start and you always want to protect it! When you start you have 2+2 marbles next to your house. Then you add one and put the 5 marbles where ever you want to, and then the game begins. Whenever there is a marble on your opponents pit and you also have one in your pit you have(note:HAVE) to steal. If you can steal, then you shall steal. Every time you steal you take the amount and start either from left or right until it’s finished. When both of the players have finished all of the marbles the real fun begins. I mentioned that you walk around right? Oh, okay, so when you steal and start from one side and you end up in a pile of marbles buut there aren’t any marbles on your opponents side, then you continue to go around the board until you end up in a pit without any other marbles.

That’s the basics, but hold on: there is more!

No matter if it is in the start or mid-game, if you end up in one of the two pits on each side, you have to start from that particular side. Even if you come from the other side, you have(note again: HAVE) to change the direction and start from that side (see picture). This is a set rule.

Another rule is that you always have to steal if you can right? But, if you can’t steal with any of the piles or when you add one on your first move, that means that it is kutakata! This means that you have to walk around your own two rows without stealing until you stop on a pit with only one marble.

So this is the rules of Bawo explain in a (not) simple way! In a way, this game is like chess+mathematics. It’s all about counting around the board and see how you can steal as many pits from your opponent as possible. I enjoy it a lot, and when you get to know the game a bit, it can be very entertaining! (Check it out on youtube)

So cheers if you actually read all of this and let’s play some Bawo!

(Note: Bawo rules may vary, due to different game variants in different countries)

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The blog piece by a young lady that’s very bad with titles.

Alright, that’s Mozambique turn!

My name is Miriam, I’m 19 years old, I’m a guitar player and I live now in Maputo. I was thinking about writing my piece about my routine, about how crazy and nice this experience is. But I know some of my friends already wrote about it (thanks Lucas and Magnus). So I’m going to write about one of the projects that I’m working on: Azgo Festival.

Azgo Festival – 18/05/2018

But keep on reading, that’s not only about a festival.

It’s amazing the opportunities and plurality that we have here. The Maputo team works teaching music to children, dancing classes, music theory classes, orchestra, building traditional instruments, playing, recording and sharing music, and I also work (a lot) to an international music festival that’s going to happen in May.

My main work is social media. But actually I’ve been doing a lot of different things like secondary design, writing journal, bio of the artists, designing the backstage, website, albums cover, forms for applications and anything else that I manage.

The first time ever that I have contact with this type of work. Haha, I had no idea. Thank you, internet.

Azgo design color guide

It’s cool that I never thought that I would use this type of skills here. I always loved to design posters for my band events, my family’s business, birthdays invitation. But I never had contact with a professional design team and that’s teaching me a lot of things!

I work everyday to Azgo, most of the days I’m at least for 4h in the office that is located in Baixa (the lowest part of the city). A lot of things happen there and I’m glad to be closer to this place that I never thought I would appreciate.

The view from my bedroom window

Time is running very, very fast. And when it happens you start to realize every little detail that you know you’re going to miss when you leave. It’s a melancholy that makes you feel good, it feeds your soul. I realized that moving around the city is the best you can do, watching houses, people, talking to them. You never know, but that’s how you find the most valuable things.

Six months. It’s scary to think about going back to Brazil. I feel the same thing I felt before leaving home. It’s almost like I miss it before leave, but it’s even worse. I knew I would come back to Brazil. Here I have a routine, friends, home, some places and my MOVE family that I love and I don’t know if I will ever see them again.

Some time ago I was very proud to shout out loud that I was a free soul, nothing could stop me. But this time I rather stability. I think my emotional part took the spotlight.

“WHEN YOU TRAVEL FAR ENOUGH, YOU MEET YOURSELF”

 

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Ever wondered how it would feel like to lose sight of all that familiar comforts of home and friends you have known your whole life for almost a whole year? As a young person who had never travelled so far away from home for a long time before. The moment I got the news that I had qualified to be one of the participant for the musicians and organisers volunteer exchange project, I was so excited but as days came closer to leaving home I became nervous, not knowing what exactly to expect in a completely new place, I asked myself “what have I gotten myself into?” thought to myself if am going to meet nice people, if am going to cope up well living with people from a completely different cultural background, if am going to be able achieve my goals and objectives. Well am here to tell my story about how the journey has been so far here in brazil inside Marilia city-state of sao Paulo.

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It has been 6 months already and frankly speaking, I feel like am home, far away from home. The people of brazil are so warm and welcoming. I felt this right the first day they received us from the airport in sao Paulo and right the first day we arrived in Marilia city. The reception by the host organisation (ptojeto guri) staff at our apartment was so nice, it felt like the people had already met us before. And of course, every time we do our day to day activities, we are meeting new people and everyone is so eager to know and learn about our countries. They open their homes and always want hang out with us in our free times. The feeling is so cool. I ask myself “how can people put so much trust in a stranger” something that is so rare and a lot of us are scared to do.

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Brazil as a Portuguese speaking country and the only languages I knew were English and Chichewa, we had a 3-month language course. Curious to know how communication went like the first month or so? Well it wasn’t easy. I found myself stuck on google translate most of the times and got so much excited when I met someone that could understand a little English which is something so rare of course. It was so funny because I would sometimes try to say something in Portuguese mixed with sign language and a little bit of English in it. Sometimes hanging out with friends, I found myself surrounded by a lot of people speaking a language I could not understand, it felt like I was about to go insane. This whole experience with language made me realise there is much more to communication than just making conversations and just trying to hear and understand what people are saying. This is because sometimes I would try to express myself on different situations but with difficulties and a thought that the person am trying to communicate to might get the whole thing the wrong way. it was like that feeling where you are trapped inside a small space and you can’t get out. But here we are now, able to at least hold a full conversation and make presentations. Its been a great challenge and am so excited I have learnt a new language.
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One thing I have learnt is that culture is very important and needs to be embraced and appreciated, it is our identity and it makes us all unique. As a MOVE participant yes, I have always appreciated and loved my culture but this whole experience has made me appreciate it more than I did. Brazil being a multicultural setting with different ethnicities, I got the chance to attend festivals and performances specifically by a particular group of people showcasing their culture. One of them was the Japanese festival. As most of the times we like to say “when you are in rome, do what romans do”, some people take it the wrong way and lose their own culture. I learnt that sometimes when you are in rome do you. At the end of the day you are so unique.

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Talking about the weather in Marilia its usually very hot, rainy and windy but according to my own experience, it does not really seem to have a pattern. You don’t really know what to expect because one minute its very sunny and hot, the next minute its unexpectedly rainy and windy. It’s not a bad thing of course, I remember having one funny experience with the weather. One day I had a friend over at our apartment and when she was leaving, I walked her to the bus station. As I was returning back, it started to get windy with some showers so unexpectedly, I held on to trees, fences and sign posts for support when I ran into one till I had arrived at the apartment because it felt like I was about to be swept away by the wind. It was funny i coulnt stop laughing and shaking at the same time.
The city is so beautiful and clean, it has fixed litter bins almost everywhere along the roads such that you would not dare to litter on the bare ground. This beauty makes me feel some kind of comfort when I go out for short walks and automatically helps clear my mind.

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The sun sets so beautifully I find myself almost everyday standing by the window watching.

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“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes wide open” Jawaharlal Nehru. I wake up each and everyday with a smile on my face anxious of what that day holds for me. It has been an amazing journey so far full of activities from, attending music classes, conducting social development activities, teaching, performances and others. Some of these activities challenge me and teach me that I can ascend to limitless heights long as I just believe in myself, because some of these activities, I have never done before and I never saw myself doing them either. I had to get out of my comfort zone and take up the opportunity, at the end of the day it’s a “wow I did that”

A warm culture in a Cold place

It´s not a secret: the norwegian winter is cold. Not Brazilian cold (witch means 10 degrees), but real minus 20 cold. And here it goes some facts about my experiencing.

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My view is like this every day, since December. I´m definitely far from home.

On this 6 months experiecing the norwegian daily life, the culture and how a 20 year norwegian behave, I can say that is really similar with the brazilians. The way of thinking, on how a society is (or should be) and the vision about the world, almost everything I can agree and see myself with them. Of course, Brasil is a third-world country and Norway is first-world, so the quality of life is really different.

But I can say the biggest difference between the societies: the warm treatment between everyone.

Of course, here in Trondertun everyone is really open and friendly, I didn´t suffer at all. I made good friends and they are really open-minded. What I mean is in the REAL society. The people taking a bus, walking on the street and working at stores.

If back home, I can seat at the bus stop and start to talk with a total stranger (and know about his/her hole life), here in Norway I could never do that. A good example is when me and my MOVE friends (Gabriel, Precious and Generoso) took the bus one night and started to play. Everyone looked at us, some people laughing and some people feeling really uncomfortable.

I don´t think that their cold reaction is something impolite or rude. It´s just the way it´s. And that is the coolest part of this exchange! To see how different and how similar our societies are in different aspects, experiencing the daily life, making new conections and new friends.

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MOVE Band. Playing with these guys is always fun and one of the best part here

 

June is coming and with it, the end of our exchange. My luggage will definitely be heavier than before. I don´t mean the clothes luggage but the knowledge one. And that makes it all worth it.

 

 


	

WATCHING FROM A FAR

WATCHING IT FROM A FAR

(were my expectation correct?)

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The month of December made me realise that in Norway Christmas is not only about the birth of Jesus. To most Norwegians this is the month to gain some weight. You see, what I mean is there is too much food waiting for you to deal with.

To begin with, I was so much excited when my roommate invited me to his place in Drammen over Christmas.  This gave me an opportunity to get really close to the Norwegian culture. Eivind, my roommate at Trøndertun folkhøgskole had been really amazing during this festive season. He was my tour guide in a lot of places within Drammen one of the most beautiful cities in Norway. We had gone out a couple of times just to have fun. He taught me how bawling works. To his surprise I got a strike the very first time I tried it out . Apart from that, he also made me meet almost everyone from his mum’s family.

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“I got a strike the very first time I tried out bowling.”

I should mention that my roommate is almost twice my height. I am not quite sure if it’s me who is too short or he is too tall.

And then comes Edmund Molland, Eivind’s dad. I love this man too much. Amongst his so numerous qualities, I specifically miss his breakfast. It is the best as far as I can remember. More like the breakfast at Scandic hotel in Trondheim. We had so much fun with this man. He had to drive us all the way from Drammen to Bergen. Trust me Norway is also one the most beautiful countries the world has. Passing through these beautiful mountains was really amazing. Honestly I had no idea we could go through a 25 km long car tunnel. Edmund had to show me around the places in Bergen the city that a lot of people believe it’s most beautiful in Norway.

In all these places there was too much food to be feasted :).

It is true, this was my very first time seeing snow. It’s amazing. Playing around, having a snowball fight, making snow men are just a few things I really enjoyed. The only thing that sucks is when this snow is melting. I have not tried out skiing yet. We are yet to do that in Voss next month.

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“Total stranger in a strange land”

It’s true a lot of Norwegians are cold and shy. Though that is a bit different with Edmund family. Everyone I met in this family was really warm-hearted. We talked a lot and had so much fun together. The truth is, most Norwegians do not want to initiate a conversation. But once you have talked to them they open up and willing to talk to you back. Though it is really hard to make friends in Norway but I now feel like I have family here. 

When I was told that I am going to Norway, I was so much excited. I had my own picture about life in Norway which is a bit different from the reality. There is so much infrastructural development. I was startled during one of my first days in the country, in Oslo city to be specific.  I walked in the toilet and from nowhere the lights turned on. I thought someone was there just trying to scare me. Finding roundabouts inside a tunnel are some of the things you don’t find in Malawi.

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“You don’t play with minus 16º C… T-shirts at owners risk”

A lot of people had told me before I came that Norway is a very cold place, but honestly I did not see this coming. You need to get really prepared during winter in Norway otherwise you will stay indoor for the rest of the season :). There is a saying in Norwegian that says “det finnes ikke darlig vær bare darlig klar”, which basically means there is no bad weather just bad clothes. The phrase is 100% correct when you are here in Norway because people expect to see you at an event no matter how bad the weather is. I do not have these kind of jackets when I am in Malawi because there is nowhere I could use it. In my city the lowest might be 5ºc. But here it gets up to minus 20ºc even more than that.

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“You can laugh but one day all this will come to an end”

We are only four of us MOVE participants here in Norway. Apart from playing and jamming together we also have so much fun playing different games together. Volleyball, Football, Pool just to mention a few.  All these guys speak Portuguese. It gave me so much headache when I thought about this during my early days here. To my surprise however, these guys do not speak Portuguese when I am around. This gives relief and the sense of belonging since we share common language and most of the all we share the common goals.  

I hope all of you know the fact that the truth hurts right? One day we were busy having fun. Suddenly we noticed some sadness on Generoso’s face. When we asked he only said “but one day”. All he meant was that we can have so much fun and enjoy life to the fullest in a strange world but one day we will go back to our normal lives. This guy is crazy. He could wait for everyone to get hyped and suddenly throw the ‘but one day’ joke.  Yes it hurts quite a lot when you think of it but you only have to embrace it because that is the truth.

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“The rhythm brought us together”

Unlike in Malawi, most people in Norway dance under influence of alcohol (no offence). Most Malawians on the other hand dance if they are impressed with the rhythm of drum or how compelling the beat is. During my dance workshops at Trøndertun Folkhøgskole I had to explain why we dance in Malawi. Initiation ceremonies, weddings parties are some of occasions you see some complicated dance moves you have never seen before. With these guys however, it is only the rhythms of the drums that brought us together. I had to involve my fellow MOVErs to play the percussions as we do those crazy dance moves from Malawi.

Lastly, let me talk about language. Norwegian is one of interesting language to speak and/or listen to. My favourite thing however is listening English in a Norwegian accent :). I amongst my fellow MOVErs, continued going to Norwegian courses after the one month program set for us had finished. I had learnt quite so much stuff from Norskurs. Right now I understand so much than I can talk. 49042913_356577058477059_4494667139071868928_n

“So far my favourite word is ‘fiskeboller’ “

I was very happy last week on Monday 26 January 2019, as I managed to start and end a conversation in Norwegian. This was a talk with the doctor who was doing a blood test on me. Among the the things we talked about is a question about how long I have lived in Norway. This question made me realise that I have spent more than half my MOVE time. I tried to look back from 11 August 2018 the day I came here. I then noticed that I have almost lived according to my expectation. In fact, I did not expect so much because I knew that this a different country, different continent and I knew I will meet totally different people with different ideologies and cultural beliefs. So far my favourite word is “fiskeboller med hvit saus og karri”. It does not really make sense because it only talks about ‘fish balls with white sauce and curry’ an expression Lars Olav my jazz teacher uses to greet me with.

I am out:).

A música é uma língua universal que liga pessoas de diferentes culturas.

Mozambican musician living unique moments in the country of Samba and Carnival

My arrival in Brazil was filled with many good things and new, my first stay was in the city of São Paulo, I was impressed by the crowd of people in the streets and in the points of train something that in my country is not very common, I do not forget until now the first meal I had here, the feijoada with farofa typical brazil dish and also the paçoca that is a sweet made of peanuts that reminded me of Mozambican sweet made from cassava and peanut flour, which is called xikhaba .

After having stayed two days in São Paulo, we had a long trip to the city of São José dos Campos where we are living today, in that same city we were well received where we had lunch in the apartment where we are staying with some members of the wonderful project Guri, after two days of rest due to the extensive trip, we had a tour of the city of São José dos Campos in the company of the Ursula who works in the Coordination of the Guri, she showed us several historical places of the city, she always very attentive giving her tell and make us realize the beautiful stories of these places, in one of the places where we went, I had the opportunity to know the history of the man who invented the first plane, the famous Santos Dumont (Alberto Santos Dumont)

among many parks in São José there is a park in honor of this aircraft, Santos Dumont Park, the other day we went to know the music centers of the Guri Project, whose poles of Caçapava, Dom Pedro in São José dos Campos, also in São José dos Campos, for each room where we entered, we could see the children’s enthusiasm for receiving people from outside (another country), they asked our nationalities and when we talked about our cultures, they wanted to hear more, but it was through a question from one of the children that came to realize that many people here in Brazil think that Africa is a country, so we explain that Africa is a very large continent and contains many countries with great cultural diversity, finally we went to know the regional pole that is located near the center of the city where we are residing in the Regional and Dom Pedro ( São José dos Campos) I was interested in some such as choral singing, percussion, cavaquinho and clarinet, classes that I have until today. It is a good experience to learn something different.
I had the opportunity to participate in many events to highlight one of them is the event of the Reference Group of the Pole of Lorraine, where I not only sang, integrating in the choir, but had the opportunity to learn the vocal techniques given by a great musician called Zeca Rodrigues I know that this learning will take me for the rest of my life, and I will certainly be using everything I am learning here and I will use it in Mozambique when I return.

I do not forget the great presentation that I had in Paraibuna, concerning the day of Black Consciousness, we had the opportunity to share our African culture through music and it was on that same day that I felt racial discrimination, the presentations that we were well received, I remember that certain adolescents treated us with disrespect, but thanks to God that on our side was a teacher of a heart of gold he was not quiet to see this type of attitude, then immediately picked up the microphone and in a wise way gave a mini talk about respect for color, race, culture or religious belief and made us understand that these things do not make us different from each other because we have the same raw material used by God. The things I could gather there as a moral teaching will lead to all life, because it is these things that make us human with respect, giving us wisdom. We do not only grow by the good things that happen in our life, we must always learn lessons from difficult moments in all areas of our lives.

At the end of the year (2018) I had some trips with friends that I met here in Brazil. In one of those trips we went to the city of São Francisco Xavier which has a beautiful waterfall, we had a unique moments, the natural beauty of the place, the clean water and the atmosphere itself pleasant by the silence and purity of the air.

The Regional center in São José dos Campos is located in the City Park, there is the Cassiano Ricardo Foundation that is responsible for the culture of São José dos Campos, in this place there is a library where I and my colleague Darius met a lady called Angela, very wise and kind, who introduced us to the history of São José dos Campos with a different glow, because in her voice there was an enthusiasm and wisdom that I never saw in anyone, she invited us to spend the Christmas festivity together with her family, I was touched by her way of treating people, for she gave me unconditional love.
For a moment it was very difficult to spend the transition of the year away from my country, but thanks to God the friends that I have filled that moment, helping me not to be alone at the turn of the year.


Adventure time!

The same day my family were on their way back to Norway Me, Lucas, Miriam and Tobias sat on a bus headed to Malawi.
Well, actuallly Chimoio. But our final destination and main goal was the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe. We said goodbye to our Malawian friends. Left Maputo at five o´clock in the morning and a 17 hour long bus drive awaited us. Nothing special happened in the bus except always being a little uncomfortable and never finding that sweet spot for sleeping. We spent the night in Chimoio and headed to the chapas (minibuses) early in the morning. We were going to the borders of Zimbabwe and Adventure Time (!) was coming. Going to the borders, no problem. Getting through the borders, no problem. Finding a driver to Mutare, also no problem! What met us in Zimbabwe was spectacular!

Large hills covered in green trees as far as the eyes could see. A long curvy road slowly ascending. And a smiling sun looking down upon us. When you live in a city like Maputo which is covered by tall colorless buildings. This was a sight to behold.

The driver dropped us off at Ann Bruce Backpackers after changing most of our dollars to Bonds (yes, just like our beloved secret agent James Bond) where we met with Ann (the owner) and Takunda (our guide).

Us and Takunda before climbing Mount Nyangani

The next four days Takunda took us to a party on New Years Eve, hiking mountains and waterfalls the next day. We hiked one of the most famous mountains, Mount Nyangani. It is famous because its nickname is The Mountains who swallows people. It is known that people have mysteriously disappeared in the mountains because of spirits. Except hearing some screams and seeing some monkeys, we were lucky to not meet any. After descending the mountain we spent the rest of our last day in Zimbabwe swimming in a lake, watching baboons and relaxing before heading on with our journey.

Our days in Zimbabwe were amazing and our guide was even more amazing! If you ever go to Mutare stay at Ann Bruce and ask for Takunda. You will have a blast!

After four wonderful days in Zimbabwe we went back to Chimoio and took the bus to Tete. I can mention that on this 6 hour long bustrip the temperature was 14 degrees and we were all shivering like jelly. Not fun.

Here we are shivering like jelly

Fortunately no one got sick and we arrived in Tete safely. From Tete we had to go to the border of Malawi in a chapa. Unlucky for us the chapa broke down halfway through. And we had to find another way to travel. Luckily for us that was the back of a pickup-truck. Instead of being trapped in a hot sweaty chapa, we now had the wind blowing in our hair and a beautiful view of the landscape. After that we took a sketchy taxi to the Lilongwe border at night. We passed the border and was ready to drive to Lilongwe. But a problem came up. We did not have enough dollars for the visa. With no one there to change our money we had to sleep and eat at a rat-infested motel with no water.

Our savior!

After a sleepless night we packed our bags, said goodbye to the rats and headed for Lilongwe.

After two hours we finally arrived. We met our Move-friends at the move-house while they were in the middle of preparing the birthday party for Henriette. Together we went to Music Crossroads and started the party. While the rain poured down upon us and cracks of thunder surrounded us, we danced and laughed and ate ´til late after midnight. The day after we visited their brazilian friends Paula and Pedro who had prepared an amazing brazilian barbeque for us. We spent the whole day there swimming, playing football and eating.

The next few days we were chilling, making dinners together and experiencing Lilongwe with our friends. We visited the refugee camp Dzaleka with 40,000 refugees and tasted the best chapati (Kenyan “pancakes”) in the world. We danced and sang with toddlers at a kindergarten and handed out candy to wide-eyed children. It was a wonderful trip and thank to you Malawi-movers who welcomed us and took care of us in Lilongwe.

The road back was hard. Not only leaving our friends but also the endless traveling with chapas. The smell of strange fish. The rooms riddled with spiders. The neverending quest to find the sweet spot for sleep. The 35 degrees in the bus. The 20 hour long bustrip directly from Tete to Maputo with Marrabenta music blasting our ears from 6 to 12 and then again from 17 to 22. Yes it was hard. But we made it. And we embraced our two Malawian friends when we came back home and made a big dinner.

Everybody is in the kitchen! (note: Lucas is not that short)

This trip was an awesome trip. It was difficult at times but I would not have traveled any other way because we saw three different countries in a unique way and we learned to face challenges together. It was inspiring. It was extraordinary. Or as me and Lucas would shout everytime we went to a new place. It was ADVENTURE TIME!!!!!