Saturday, June 7, 2008

A honeymoon type trip to Inhassoro and 1st cell phone bites the dust

I made a trip down to Inhassoro, the next big shore town south from Mambone on the National Highway. My friends Dr. Nilton, the only doctor in the district, and Geraldine, a French woman working for Oxfam, went down on Friday but I stayed in town until Saturday to teach and have some free time, plus the students were supposed to dig my latrine on Saturday morning but they never showed up. I lost my phone on the chapa (taxi). More on this at the end of the story. So when I got to Inhassoro I went to the market and bought some food and headed off in the direction of the hotel, following the sign at the main road. Well I was told it was somewhere between 3 and 7 kilometers, and I imagined there would be some kind of sign, no matter how crude, to indicate once I’d arrived. No sign. So I walked past it even though I was persistently asking passersby they didn’t know because it’s a new hotel and did not involve the neighbors in the hotel. Once I passed it I was informed that the place I was looking for was quite a bit farther down the path on foot, way farther, but that sure enough there was a hotel out that way. As it turns out, that was a different hotel and once again I found myself lost in a strange and beautiful land with that same uncertain feeling about how this imaginably dangerous situation would end but faith that all would be right soon enough. Eventually I was turned back around and made it to the hotel, were I was given food and wine and well taken care of. From there on it was a blast. We three went to a new friend’s house. His name is Scott, he is Zimbabwean and new to Inhassoro. He is building his house here and currently living with a friend. He has a Land Cruiser that doesn’t have any breaks because at some point the beach lodge employees left it on the beach at low tide and it was inundated. I wasn’t able to ride in the back of the Land Cruiser because that would have been against Peace Corps policy, but if I had ridden on the beach in the back of it at night with a beer in my hand and offroading over dunes the next day I imagine that would have been quite a feeling of youthful exuberant vacation. Please see the photos to know more about this trip. As for the phone, I know it fell out of my pocket in the taxi but it was gone when I went back to look for it and I only found out 5 days later that there was a witness who saw the lady who had my phone and wanted to help me get it back. She denied having the phone when we confronted her and so we ended up taking her to the police where it was my witness’s word against hers, he says she took him aside after she got out of the chapa and asked him to remove the SIM card from my phone. Not knowing whose phone and what have you, he did so and only minutes later did he hear about the professor who lost his phone and put 2 and 2 together. By then both the “finder’s keeper’s” lady and me were both back on the road, again in the same chapa. She’s what we call a malandra, someone who goes about in a bad way. The police interrogation was quite interesting, I couldn’t imagine how they were planning to get her to give up the phone and essentially the tactic was to flex muscles and say, “pretty please? We know you have it..” and that’s as it should be, an allegation is not enough to invade someone’s privacy. So in the end I’m mostly satisfied with the way the local police handled it.

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