Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Impressions- No, We're Not in Kansas Anymore!

The experience of a world traveler has taken me to a new level of understanding. The countries that I would only hear about from the television, magazines or newspapers are nothing like a real life, tangible, personal experience.

When I arrived at the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, the drive to Maputo, Mozambique was unique. Along the paved highway were farms growing the country’s pride and joy: bananas, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, papayas, nectarines, macadamia nuts, and aloe plants. The man made forest was a sight to see as well. The planting of eucalyptus and pine trees had made the project a success, with milled lumber used for home construction, mine support beams, and paper products.

While on the journey we passed a game reserve. I was surprised to see antelope and zebras from the highway. I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming—I am really in Africa.

I wonder to myself where all the people are walking? Where they are coming from? How long they will walk? I wanted to just stop them to ask, but alas, the road before us was long.

We finally arrived at our destination some 8 hours later. I was surprised to see children playing in polluted water only blocks from the ocean.

On our way to our hotel, we got lost in Maputo. We stopped to find the proper turn that would take us to the hotel. The local police swooped down on us—telling our driver that it is illegal to stop on the road and demanding a cash payment. It was like a scene from the movies… but those were real guns they were waving around.

Finally safe in the hotel, seeing the bats drop from the roof eaves was a sight to witness. It was scary to see swarms of tiny bats going on a feeding frenzy, but I was thankful they were eating the mosquitoes and other insects.

The next morning I awoke to the crowing of a rooster. It was amazing to see the sun rise in the Northeast and travel quickly towards the Northwest. It wasn’t the slow rise that I see in Kansas City, but it seems the sun is sprinting across the horizon, racing an unseen opponent.


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