BOM DIA – Greetings from Mozambique! We made it across the border in true traveler fashion- poli – poli – slow slow. Algebra 2 had time for a class while other girls made themselves comfortable in the corner of the customs office playing banana-grams. The customs officers were quite amused with our group and offered a behind-the-scenes tour of their new office building.
In the past couple days we have covered hundreds of kilometers and compared different town scenes of rural Mozambique with rural Zambia. Thatch and mud huts cluster together along the road, woven reed silos are stilted above the ground, overflowing with corn husks and chickens; pigs and goats amble about.. These scenes are transferable across the border while the rocky outcroppings, rambling mountains and gigantic boulders are unique to Mozambique thus far in our travels.
“I've planted 97 million trees so far and I feel its still not enough,” Muagra casually mentioned during his talk about conservation and reforestation. TTS 20 sat enthralled as he spoke of various conservation methods and how instinctual it was for him as a small boy. Muagra didn't realize his childhood past time would lead him down a lifetime journey of conservation complete with requests by the President to meet him and witness his passion. This was only one blip into our amazing day at Gorongosa National Park http://gorongosa.net/videogallery/all/welcome_to_gorongosa. We spent the day listening to locals and internationals alike speak modestly yet passionately about their work in the area. One gentleman presented a thorough history of the area from the times when Bantu people migrated down through Africa to the “civil” war and Renamo's influence around to the park today and the current reintroduction projects. Another gentleman showed his homemade ecology book highlighting the uses of the many plant species such as natural glue. Rangers set up snares used by poachers to catch animals and told heart-wrenching accounts of poaching in the area.
Tomorrow our group is slated to hike Mt. Gorongosa and travel back through the memories of the mountain which has witnessed horrific pain and destruction in the past 50 years. Mt Gorongosa is on the edge of the park and was Renamo's base during the 70's. These rebels poached profusely, fought brutally, and forcibly removed locals from villages scattered around the mountain. Today the Carr Foundation and Gorongosa National Park are working to stretch the park boundaries to include the entire mountain
The girls are embracing all new activities with energy and enthusiasm. They are excited to learn by doing. As one student turned and said to me during lunch today, “I'm not really interested in science back home, but here I am fascinated by it because I can see it in motion.”