Beira Beach, overlooking the Mozambique Channel

Dear New York,
You have some competition for the title of “the city that never sleeps.”
With love,
Amatongas, Mozambique

Every night thus far I’ve had to question when the city sleeps. They rise before the sun, around 5:00 a.m., and they go all day and into the night. Music travels from different homes around the residence at all hours, which the Brothers said is an everyday occurrence. They even have some songs they’ve heard so many times they sarcastically claim them as their favorite.

So living in true Van Halen style, everyone in Amatongas really is working for the weekend. While a normal day for a student in Amatongas consists of a work session, a school session and a study session, Saturday was all about fun. We had barely finished up breakfast around 8:00 when a few kids showed up at the Brothers’ doorstep asking if we wanted to come play soccer. Of course we obliged.

After getting changed into some more fitting gear, we gathered a couple balls 3rd Coast Soccer and Bo donated and headed towards the pitch. We gathered a small crowd when the kids saw we were going to get down and dirty with them, yet all eyes were fixed on the soccer balls in our hands. Quick as a hiccup, the kids were putting the new ball to the test – shooting, juggling, passing, dribbling and punting. Their old balls were one of two things. Either they were getting torn apart, ragged and tattered, or they weren’t really a soccer ball at all. Br. Chris said they makeshift their own homemade balls by inflating a condom as the center, and wrapping it in cloth, string, rubber bands or whatever else they can find. The ball works surprisingly well as a bouncy soccer-type ball, plus the soft texture is easy on their bare feet. But they were thrilled to be playing with a real ball now, which Br. Chris said can run up to about $50-60. And they certainly appreciated and values these prized possessions. When one got booted deep into the woods (full of this extremely itchy plant called fajon maloku), the kids didn’t hesitate to rummage into the forest looking for it. It took them about 10-15 minutes but they came popping out of the bushes with smiles on their faces, holding the lost ball and scratching every inch of their body. “Rub some dirt on it, kids” isn’t a joking expression, it’s the way you ease the pain of fajon maloku.

So now that we had everything lined up, it was game-on. Due to our size, they decided to put Michael and I each at goalie. No problemo. We lasted about an hour or so in goal with the score even at four a piece (a high-scoring affair). I eventually got pulled when Brother, or should I say Coach Angel showed up. Br. Angel, using his Spanish background to his advantage, is the coach of the school’s team, the Missionarios. They have a league they play on weekends with schools around the area. From what I can gather, Amatongas plays host to most if not all the games in the league. Unfortunately the two weekends we’re here there aren’t any league matches.

So Br. Angel wanted to take over as keeper and I wanted to run around a bit, so we made the sub. Caught up in language confusion, I somehow ended up switching teams, so I decided to go help out Michael, who was lacking much defensive help. We put on our best FIFA fronts and led our side to a 12-8 victory! Despite the win, these kids put us to shame. We were being schooled left and right. If it wasn’t for a plethora of misses from the opposing strikers, we wouldn’t have looked so good. Plus I’m sure they took it easy on us.

We were still proud of our performance – I finished the day with one assist (which came as a goalie) and one goal, and Michael, looking like a World Class keeper, had nearly a dozen circus-style saves. The three and a half hour affair finally ended around lunch, but our sports outing did not. Walking away from the soccer field, we were quickly picked up to play basketball now. It wasn’t as easy to get 10 guys for basketball, which takes a large back seat to soccer. We split up the teams 3-on-3 and tipped off.

It was easy to tell that this wasn’t the primary sport in the area. They lacked general order, rules and fundamentals, with the exception of one student, Fazendo, who could easily hold his own in a pickup game at LSU. The game disintegrated fairly quickly and turned into an easy-going game of show-off between Fazendo, Michael and I, to which I can’t say confidently who won. After 5-6 hours of nonstop activity, we were gassed. We headed in for a late lunch, a siesta (which I’m convinced should be worked into the everyday schedule for Americans) and took the rest of the day easy. Tomorrow we get to see our first Amatongas Mass, which I hear is an awesome event!



Holly Randow
06/23/2011 2:58pm

I am hanging on to every word. I'm a little surprised
you 2 could last 5 hours of aerobic activity!


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