The World Around Us

Let no good deed go unpunished

Country: Mozambique by Marlowe


Marlowe's muddy feet

Photo by James Nakai

So my mission to gain weight has worked too well and I am starting to get fat. To blame are the ubiquitous pastelarias (pastry shops) and my inability to resist their soft, flaky, custard-filled wares. No worries, time to go running / walking with the local chapter of the Hash Harriers. To those who don’t know, the Hash Harriers are a running group, mostly foreigners living locally. They run at various locales in the city, afterwards returning to their headquarters at Aeroclube to engage in sophomoric drinking games. As they succinctly put it they are “drinkers with a running problem”.

So this time we are to go to the satellite city of Matola; located to the west of the main city of Maputo and featuring a more industrial / rural landscape. With me for the ride there is my friend James and a couple of other volunteers and a friend. The walk itself puts us through a charming and quiet rural community and finally out into an enormous salt-producing field inundated with water.

It isn’t long before pathways end and the group is confronted with an impassible rivulet. One of the women I’m with jests openly if someone would carry her across. Of course I’m on a mission to get back into shape and soon begin carrying the surprised woman over the watery course (and yes, I asked first). As you see in the image to the right, both the water and mud seemed to have no bottom and I was forced to basically throw her onto the other embankment because I could no longer take a step.

Anyways, this happened again and again and several other well-meaning men helped others cross in this way. Many a fancy running shoe was saved that day from muddy contamination. We return to Aeroclube.

The Hash formed a semi-circle and began the forced-chugging-beer-to-song activities; with runners randomly pulled into the centre for humiliation. About halfway through the woman I had carried stated how juvenile it all is and how she cleverly avoids being pulled into the middle by staying at the back of the circle. No sooner does she say this that the group orator (aka The Hash Master) calls her to the circle for allowing herself to be carried across “so she wouldn’t mess up her feet”. It’s only a matter of time before the Hash, like a fanatical medieval mob at a witch trial, begin asking who carried her. Fingers are pointed, accusations hurled and I am soon pulled to the centre with my own half-pint of cola.

All in all this was just good fun. However, I can draw parallels of good will being punished in my everyday life here. There are entities in Maputo that seem far fairer but feel far fouler than the Hash. But that’s a rant for another post.