Every Winter, our family sets off somewhere for a holiday or an adventure of sorts! Last year we did a fairly relentless, hard going trip into Southern Namibia and explored the arid and often dramatic landscapes. It was a camping road trip and quite exhausting as you can expect if you are setting up a new camp every night, packing up and moving on to another place. What we really needed as a family last year (in hindsight) was a complete break. A slow and warm one, one that would contrast our busy, full-scheduled life back home! We needed the type of holiday and destination where time does not matter, where watches, cell phones and laptops are not part of the experience. Though don’t get me wrong about our trip last year. We had a few exhilarating experiences that one can only dream of; like when a few hundred horses galloped towards us at sunset, dust bellowing and the earth shaking under our feet. It was a truly magnificent experience, one that will forever be etched on my memory.
But this year, we were sure to do exactly what we needed. Though we love to go somewhere new, this year we chose to return to one of our favourite places in Mozambique, a place that gently pulls you in, takes you under its wing and slows you right down!
Mozambique will always feel a bit like ‘going home’ for me. We lived in Mozambique for a number of happy and life changing years. It was where we started our family and also where I started the Africa far and wide blog. It is a country that exposed us to so much and through those experiences and the people we met, it became a place and time for a huge amount of personal growth on my part. If I look back over the years, I can say now that our time in Mozambique was a time of foundation – a new, long lasting outlook on life. A time that would literally open my eyes to a bigger picture, as clichéd as that sounds! For many years, I have compared our ‘new homes’ to our experience in Mozambique. It’s taken me up until recently to see how my ‘time’ in Mozambique slots into my journey, it’s meaning and how it has positively impacted not only my life, but my husband’s and my children’s life.
I remember having a very clear and unsettling thought in 2012. It was while I was having an early morning coffee on my Mozambican style verandah. It was a peaceful setting. The chickens and pet guinea fowl were inspecting my flowerbeds as usual and the dogs were eyeing them out while lying in the warm winter sun, attempting to look uninterested. I could hear the gardener raking the cashew nut tree leaves and the laughter and chatter of children who were walking to school. It was just another day in Mozambique. I thought about how our life here is peaceful, simple and quiet and how I loved it. It was followed by another thought, one that came like a bolt of lightning! ‘The calm before the storm…’
Where that thought came from, I don’t know! Whether it was just a coincidence or whether it was something else, I have no idea, but it certainly turned out to be very true.
“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston
From early 2013 and for a number of years later, we experienced catastrophes, tragedy, a huge amount of loss and grieving, danger, fear and multi mega life changes! We’ve dealt with these challenges with varying degrees of success and failure! And though life continually throws us new challenges, I do get the feeling that it comes at us in phases, or in groups of years in which we are particularly tested. I’m in my 40th year this year, and it’s come at a good time. As I have mentioned in a few blogs before this, turning 40 has prompted me to look hard at my life and my direction. It’s one of those special kind of years that has been like meeting with an old friend, one that encourages you to really be you, to be kind to yourself and to go forward with purpose.
Going back to Pomene in Mozambique is always a deeply personal and restful experience for me. It’s where I go to be quiet, to reflect and listen. This recent return trip to Mozambique has given me much needed resolution and the closure of a chapter. ‘ It’s been a few years since we were there last and much has changed. People, lodges, camps and grand plans have come and gone. It’s a place that epitomises ‘change over time.’
“It’s said after arriving in a new place, we will have replaced the entirety of the water in our bodies with that of local watershed in just a few days. Though these adaptions happened at a biological level, we are vastly unconscious of the implications a place has on our psyche. Just as humans carry an energetic signature, so do geographies. However, like fish swimming in water we are rarely aware of what energy a place holds until we leave it, or return to it after a time away.” – Toko-pa Turner
I think of the legendary old hotel that sits on the hill, overlooking the bay. I think of what it must have been like for the owners when they had to abandon it at the start of the civil war, a war that would rage on and paralyse Mozambique for 15 years. I think of our friends who built and owned the beautiful Pomene View Lodge that looks out over the mangrove swamps and the lagoon and how incredibly sad it must have been for them to close their doors and to leave their home and dream. I think of the Beach Lodge, now only opened for a few months of the year for an MSC cruise liner that anchors for a few hours at a time, offloading a mass of tourists for a tiny taste of Mozambique! I think of Pomene’s ever changing story, and while there is a lot of sadness that comes with change and closing chapters, I wonder what the new chapters will look like for Pomene and I wonder about its caretakers and what they have gained through their ‘loss?’
“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu
I’m grateful for the time that we have had, for the special memories made over the last 12 years and I can only hope our Pomene ‘time’ will continue. But if not for whatever reason, it’s served a wonderful purpose, of being a sanctuary amidst a rather chaotic world and time in our life. The last few challenging years have taught me so much and I must learn to trust that life is how it should be, how it’s a series of painful ends and new beginnings.
“Change is the only constant in life.” – Heraclitus
This time, I leave Mozambique with a lighter heart and a feeling of walking out of the storm and into a new chapter, whatever that may be.