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Paradise Found... And Lost Again

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We took this photo of Vilankulo from the water
Here on the beach of the village of Vilankulo, fishermen prepare for a day of work much as they have for hundreds of years. As they call to one another, the wind carries the sounds of their native language, Chitswa, to my ears.

Chitswa is one of the 14 native languages in the country of Mozambique. Chitswa is spoken by almost everyone here, but many people also speak some English now that the civil war has ended and tourism has started again. One such person is 12-year-old Neto, who helped us carry our bags to the hut where we were staying. Most tourists come from English-speaking South Africa or Zimbabwe, so Neto was excited we had come from as far away as the United States to visit his little town.

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Lost in thought...enraptured by village life
Everyone here seems so fit and healthy, the families so close, the community so strong. There are no phones in the entire village and most people get their water from wells and cook over fires. Yet everyone has time to stop and talk to each other and to me. I find it impossible to even explain to people what it is I do. Who's heard of the Internet here?

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A woman from Vilankulo
One young woman, who has lost an arm to one of the thousands of landmines still hidden in the Mozambican countryside, walks over to see what I am writing. I told her it's in English, and she explained she can't read anyway, even if it were in Chitswa. Her name is Yeisa and she invited me to come see her home. I sat by an older woman who was preparing food for dinner on a straw mat. A 13-year-old girl named Amina brought me a cup of hot water, some sugar, an open can of condensed milk, and a large roll.

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A few of the young residents of Vilankulo
We slept in one of these thatched huts in Vilankulo
After I left Yeisa's home, I ran into three young, barefoot kids dancing to a far-off radio on the beach. The children were not shy and came up to me and said, "Hello sister!" with big grins. Then they held out their hands saying, "Give me one thousand." This is the only English they know, to ask for money. One thousand Mozambican Metacais is worth about 16 U.S. cents. It's not a lot of money, but it makes me sad that these children have learned that, when white folks come, they should ask them for money. I can only hope they get to spend more time dancing in the wet sand than worrying about money.


Shawn - A Taste of the Island Life

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