Taking Br. Chris’ words to heart, Michael and I slept in until roughly noon. A full 3 days of travel plus jet lag will knock you out. We showered and made it to the Brothers’ residence just in time for lunch, which was the same bean and rice dish along with a new locally grown vegetable called couve (koo-vay), very similar to spinach. There’s also bread and fresh bananas at the table for every meal. With each meal we usually drink either bottled water, a fresh fruit juice of some sort or a local beer, and in the mornings the Brothers boil water for coffee. Unless you’re Br. Angel, then a good red wine is never off limits.

After lunch, Br. Chris gave us the grand tour of Amatongas. We saw so much; it’ll be tough to put it all into words. Once we can get a reliable and powerful Internet connection, we’ll post tons of photos. Our tour began at the Brothers’ grounds and we made it over towards the village behind the residence and around the entire village. I’ll go through in brief and describe what we saw.

Brothers’ residence/priest house/guest houses:
These are the buildings behind a gated area in the mission. When Br. Chris first arrived, he said he couldn’t see across the road from the residence. Now a small garden growing couve sits across the way from the houses, and the view extends all the way to the main highway. We’ve only been inside the Brothers’ house and our guesthouse and the accommodations aren’t bad at all.

The Brothers’ house has four bedrooms for the four Brothers, a bathroom with running water and a small kitchen. The main area holds both a small kitchen table with a fridge and another small table with chairs around it for visiting. The living room is also the host for the main computer and the Internet connection, which is extremely slow and unreliable.

Our guesthouse is a little larger. It is basically two houses connected, mirroring each other. Since only two of us are staying here, we haven’t gone much into the other side of the house, which Br. Chris says is going to be re-done to accommodate more visitors. All the essentials were so kindly provided, from bedding to blankets to towels. In each room we have our bed, a small desk and a dresser. We also have a bathroom with running water, which to our pleasant surprise gets warm for showers. The Brothers’ also gave us a few extra snacks in the kitchen, in case for some reason we were ever extra hungry (which has yet to happen).

Village behind the mission:
We left the mission and headed to our right. One of the biggest things the Brothers have done here so far is clearing out land that was once crowded with weeds and unused and using the fertile soil to grow crops. Before I get into detail about the village, the background story is important to know. Mozambique was in a large civil war just 10 years ago, which ended in 1992. At the time the mission was still here, housing other priests and brothers. If you talk to some of the older locals, Br. Chris said they have some amazing stories to tell.

Pre-civil war, the mission wasn’t in nearly as good of shape as it is now, but down one large hill behind the mission was one of the biggest banana plantations in all of Mozambique. We got a chance to walk through the beautiful plantation, which is one of my favorite places

in the village. Walking through the tall trees with their oversized leaves shading you from the sun makes you realize the true beauty in a place like this. Br. Chris said he goes here sometimes for some alone time, and I can see why.

The majority of the banana plants have been uprooted and brought to the new plantation, which was one of the first things we saw on the tour. The old plantation still had its fair share of older, larger banana plants, still producing huge hands on their limbs. Bananas

spring up here like crazy, making it one of the most popular sellers at a cheap price. According to Br. Chris “you could live off bananas here.” Leaving the plantation, which is relatively deep into the forest, you pass gigantic eucalyptus trees, Br. Chris’ favorite and another lovely sight the mission offers.

We passed the plantation and some local housing began popping up. In one of the back yards was the town garbage can – a large rectangular hole in the ground they fill up with trash, cover with dirt when full and re-dig in another spot. Everything from paper bags to banana peels goes in the dump and gets buried.

Aside from selling clothes, fruits, vegetables or snacks, one of the biggest sources of income for some of the locals is brick. For whatever reason, the soil in Amatongas is ideal for making bricks. Br. Chris said they use a lot of these local bricks for construction they do and will be doing in the future on the mission’s grounds. We saw a few different men throwing together bricks in their back yard, which can range in size from regular-sized bricks to cinderblock sized. A lot of the houses in the area are made from this same clay that makes up the bricks and usually have tin roofs. We haven’t been inside a house yet, but plan on making a visit next week. We’re interested in seeing what it’s like beyond the door.

There’s so much to see in the village, this blog post could go on for another three pages. I’ll break our tour up into two different posts so as not to overload everyone with what we’re seeing. There are some great things in store for the next couple days so stay tuned!


 


Comments

09/25/2012 2:56pm

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