Monday was probably our slowest day thus far in Amatongas. But don’t worry. Tuesday brought a complete 180 and goes down as probably our busiest day here (pictures of the day to come later, sorry!). We were told we would head to Chimoio for a few things before visiting a nearby orphanage in the afternoon. So like clockwork, we hit the alarm, showered and ate, gathered our things and hopped in the jungle car headed for Chimoio.

This time nearly the whole gang tagged along – Br. Chris, Br. Angel, Br. Fabian, Michael and myself. Since there’s only three rooms in the main Brothers’ house, once Br. Fabian arrived in Amatongas, he and Br. Angel moved to the other house across the way from where Michal and I stay. So stop No. 1 was to get an extra key made for the two Brothers. We stopped at a little side shop that hand-makes keys and dropped off the sample key.

Next stop was for gas as we headed into town. Br. Fabian still had some issues to deal with concerning his passport, so he and the Brothers went to get him a resident visa, as opposed to a visitor’s visa, which allows you to be in the country for 30 days. After way too much hassle, they realized Br. Fabian must go back to Zimbabwe to get his visa filled. They said they would make that trip next week at some point.

Br. Angel went to pick up some supplies the workers needed for one of their many jobs while the rest of us hit the Internet café again, taking advantage of our visit to Chimoio to update our respective blogs and get caught up on any news at home. We stayed there for a little less than an hour and decided we were ready for lunch. Still missing Br. Angel, we waited for about 30 minutes on the street looking left and right for him. As soon as we decided to go back to the Internet café and wait for him there, we see his goofy smile in the car, waving out the window for us. We all laughed and hopped in the back.

The Brothers said there were two good restaurants in Chimoio (one being the pizza place we tried last week, Vapor) so we went to the other one, Hatlantida. Br. Chris and Br. Angel advised us all to get the half chicken, so we put in our order for five of them. The food came out about five minutes later. Delicious slow cooked chicken and French fries filled us up and we all piled in the car and went to yet another stop at ShopRite to fill up on groceries.

After stocking up on, we hit the road headed for the orphanage. Br. Chis kept telling us how cool this place was, so we were pretty excited to get there. We turn in down a random dirt road off the side. Something you would never think to turn in to on a normal day. The bumpy dirt road snaked deeper and deeper into the woods. We passed a few houses and crossed over a small bridge before running into the main grounds of the orphanage. The journey (reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood’s trek over the river and through the woods) brought us to a cul-de-sac that had houses on each side and a bridge down a little ways to another.

As we pulled up, we see kids playing in the grassy center of the circle drive, joined by their two dogs. Mr. Roy Perkins (who we had actually briefly met on our first visit to ShopRite) walks out of the house on the right and greets us. He’s a taller man that spoke English in a different accent I’ve never heard before. Turns out, he is from Rhodesia, which is present day Zimbabwe. He and his wife Trish moved to Mozambique about 30 years ago and have been here since. I’ll get more into their incredible history later one.

Br. Chris and Mr. Roy talked business for a few minutes (the Brothers are buying wood from Mr. Roy to use for the roof of the pig house) and then Br. Chris said we wanted to go see Nanna. He seemed super excited to go see Nanna, so Mr. Roy said we can go visit Nanna and he’ll get the wood ready to go. So Br. Chris led us down to Nanna’s house, passing some beautiful trees and gardens. We walked up a round house, with more flourishing gardens around it. Br. Chris called for Nanna for a few minutes from outside and after a few minutes, a small yet spry old woman opens the door. Before we can even finish our introduction, Nanna has invited us in and scrounged up five extra chairs for all of us.

We gather in a circle in what must have been Nanna’s very small living room. It was a cement room with one small table, a green recliner, and a TV that probably didn’t get used much. Then story time began. A few simple questions to Nanna sent her off telling some amazing stories of her life. Not only did she live through the war but she, along with Mr. Roy, his wife, Mrs. Trish and four others were kidnapped at gunpoint and taken captive as prisoners by heavily armed guerilla soldiers of the Mozambique National Resistance Movement. Their captors marched them relentlessly more than 500 kilometers for about three months. She told a few stories of the kidnapping and their survival, including one that included one of her favorites, when the captors led them across the Zambezi River in the middle of the night on Nanna’s birthday. Crossing the river had always been something she wanted to do, and while the situation may not have been ideal, she still loved the moment.

That shows you a little peak at the kind of personality Nanna is. The stories she told us could fill hundreds of pages. And we only hit the tip of the iceberg on our visit. Nanna was a nurse in Mozambique for more than 30 years and used to run a small nursery/pharmacy at the orphanage. She’s seen more medical issues than we could name. So naturally, Br. Chris and I asked her if she knew what in the world was wrong with our rashes. She diagnosed us immediately as being victims of the African Burn Beetle!

We’re not sure if that’s the official name of the suspect, but at this point we’re taking everything Nanna says as Gospel. She tells us it’s a tiny black beetle with a red dot on his head that usually lives in the mountains or hills (like Chimoio) and shoots a burning acid on you that can penetrate about half an inch or so deep into your skin. Br. Chris got shot on his neck and I got it on the arm, most likely when we collapsed on top of the old man’s forehead. Since mine was on my elbow, I must have bent my arm and spread his poison all inside my elbow crevice. Br. Chris and I chuckled as Nanna ran to get some medicine to treat us. “It sounds like a horror movie,” was Br. Chris’ first take of the diagnosis. Nanna said we should treat it just like a burn and handed us some burn cream she had stocked up in her old pharmacy. This woman is an angel.

We showered Nanna in thanks for her stories and medical help (since a poison-shooting beetle was probably our last guess). We walked outside to Nanna’s garden for a photo. Right on cue, Michael’s camera refused to work. Luckily Br. Chris had his available, so we snapped a few shots and headed back up the hill to the main house. 

Mr. Roy greeted us again and he and Br. Chris went inside one of the buildings to finalize the wood deal. After the business was taken care of, Br. Chris brought up a nearby waterfall he’s heard good things about. Mr. Roy told us we can get there by car and said his wife would bring us. We talked for a few minutes before Mrs. Trish walks up the walkway from what we would find out is their house.

She has the same accent as Mr. Roy as she introduces herself with gang of kids following her. She offers to drive her car, so we all pile in. About 10 kids (including Michael) jump in the very back of the car while rest of us squeeze into the main cabin. Mr. Trish takes us down yet another bumpy dirt road, barely wide enough for the car and over-grown with grass and weeds on both sides. After a slow five minute cavort through the trail, Mrs. Trish puts it in park and tells us we’ll walk from there. There are two different paths to the waterfall, one that leads to the bottom and one to the top. All the youngins took the route down to the fall (a little tougher of the two) while Br. Chris, Br. Angel and Mrs. Trish went to the top.

The view was jaw dropping. We couldn’t resist the grins that appeared on our faces. The waterfall flowed down into a pool of cold, clear water at our feet, with rocks and vegetation painting a movie-like background. We explored every nook and cranny we could find, shooting photos attempting to capture the beauty of this hidden gem. The camera doesn’t do it justice, but it gives you a good idea at what we were looking at. After about 20 minutes in the lower section, we made our way back up and around to the top, which gave another angle to the scenic view. A huge tree that must have fallen during a storm stretched from bank to bank at the top. We awed at the beauty of area. If it were summertime (which has reached 120° range at its peak) we for sure would have been taking a dip.

A few more minutes at the top and we headed back to the car. The sun was beginning to set and Mrs. Trish wanted to get back while we still had some daylight. Br. Fabian took Michael’s spot in the back with the kids and the rest of us crammed in again. Mrs. Trish expertly turned the car around amidst the brush and we were back to home base. As soon as we got back and unloaded our caravan of kids, Mrs. Trish invited us into her home for some tea.

We made our way down the pathway into the woods and came upon the Perkins household, which could be mistaken for the Swiss Family Robinson’s abode. The large log cabin overlooked the beautiful scenery of Amatongas and surrounding areas. Hill after rolling hill of forest and scattered city lights is the view the Perkins see every night from the dinner table. We took a look around their home for a few minutes while she prepared the tea. The children gathered around us eating fruit and cutting up with us while we questioned Mrs. Trish on their lovely house. Her home is decorated with her own amazing paintings of Africa – everything from forests views to wild animals. Looking out over the mountains of Amatongas, it’s easy to see where her inspiration comes from.

Mrs. Trish led us up to the balcony of the home and shooed the kids away as she began to tell us her story, from her and Roy’s initial escape from the kidnapping to some of the rough nights they spent being held captive in the forests of Africa. There is so much of her story to tell, she could have went on for days. And along with being an artist and a mother to 20+ orphans, Mrs. Trish is an author. She wrote her story down in a book titled “In Rebel Hands.” Luckily she had some extra copies around, so Br. Chris bought two, which he gave to Michael and me. I haven’t cracked into it yet, but knowing the story that lies inside, I already would highly recommend it to anyone interested.

The sun set, leaving us in the dark. With dinner approaching, we decided it was time to head back to the residence. We said our good-byes and thank yous and left the orphanage. The rest of the night was a discussion of how crazy/amazing that whole experience was. From Nanna, to the waterfall to tea with Mrs. Trish, it wasn’t exactly the day we had in mind. But we were all more than happy it turned out the way it did.



Lucy A. Rivero
06/29/2011 9:51am

Hi guys . . . great blog . . . I'm really enjoying reading it . . . Keep up the good work!!!

Lucy (Michael's aunt/God Mother)

05/28/2012 1:51am

Great steps takes to educate the Orphanage and African Burn Beetle Remedy. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information.

10/18/2013 10:26pm

Was just bored and thought I would post to say hello


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