Archive for December, 2008

it wouldn’t be christmas


without a tree



without family


beautiful presents


and happy wishes

Nono and Ana and Sola and João Pedro, or in other words (to us) the MEIRELLES! my father used to spend his christmas, on the 24th of december with the MEIRELLES family, far away cousins but yet so close! times have changed, independencies and different continents made our families grow apart but this year we were able to sort of recreate a long lost tradition, WE SPENT CHRISTMAS WITH THE MEIRELLES!!! dad was proud i’m sure! 

the BACALHAU was the main dish, different one but also the weather was different as was the tree, no more pine shapes, this year we had an embondeiro (i think that’s how you spell it)… and who says 44year-old girls can’t have lots of fun, and lots of presents and lots of giggles?! of course the 29year-old girl over here also loved her present… i even had a hard time putting it down when i was going to bed!

i will never forget this night. it made our far-away-from-home christmas so cosy and wonderful. it’s good to know we’re not alone. merry christmas everyone!


chokwe #003

it’s all about giving… to the children

we had decided a long time ago that this being our first christmas away from any of our homes, portugal or italy, we’d give up exchanging gifs between me and aldo and give to the children at the Chokwe orphanage. we couldn’t resist. we visited them 3 days before christmas and gave them what we could, new clothes! since every time we go the orphanage there seem to be even more children since the time before we were a bit short on items, but they still enjoyed our company and we simply adored seeing them. they sang like never before, they danced and they chatted until they dropped, literally of hunger. we were all hungry by lunch time, and we couldn’t say no when Sister Isaura asked us to join them for their special christmas meal. the food was very good, warm and so homemade. it was strange for us to give up all our rules for eating in africa, usually we never eat vegetables outside of private homes, we don’t drink water and certainly we tens to eat things we know where they came from… i think those rules flew out of my mind the minute i sat down at their table. the food was delicious, the water so cool under that sun and the vegetables straight out of the garden. i didn’t care. 


Chelton, the new kid in town


Luanda, she’s doing so well. she’s sitting up on her own, when she feels like it! and she has a beautiful smile!




aldo and andrea dancing


Zezito, the cutest!


can’t stop dancing


they just couldn’t resist 



everybody loves Chelton



seeing them on this day meant so much to me. i think to my sister and Ana also so much because we opened our hearts like we never expected. we laughed together, danced together and especially learned so many new things by just spending time there. every time i visit this place i leave a bit of myself. i feel that my hands are tight in so many aspects, we can’t change the way they live, but i feel, selfishly so much better with myself. i feel proud of myself and aldo and whoever wants to learn more about this place because we give our time, we’re not better than them, we just can use our education, economic position, our outside view to help. and help sometime is just as simple as this gathering, lunch together. that’s all it takes. and if in the meantime you can by them new things, or search for prices of things they need, or pick up groceries, or letters or anything, we’ll do it. because it doesn’t take anything to make them smile. 

and the best reward to us is seeing how happy they are. with so much less than us, but with hearts bigger than we’ve ever had.

kruger park #002

the Kruger Park is without a doubt a gorgeous place, not as savana as i would have expected after last year visiting the Gorongosa Park in Mozambique, but still so exciting, searching for all t«of the BIG FIVE or not, was a challenge, it exhausts you because it seems like so much land for only four pairs of eyes! we were very lucky though because apparently eventhough it’s normal to see so many animals, not everyone gets to see so many of the BIG FIVE in one visit. usually december is not the best time, the grass and bushes are very tall at this time of the year… but i guess when you’re not expecting much, when things have happened that make you just wish to have good fun with you boyfriend, sister and friend, i guess the animals didn’t mind showing just to make our weekend so much better!




there is a giraffe behind me!


a whole family of zebras


a sleepy rhino


another hypnotized bambi


a funny and ugly couple of pumbas… ok so their technical name is WARTHOG, but to me they’re just pumbas!

now prepare yourselves for the master, the king of the animals, ladies and gentleman, i give you MR. LION KING!




the lovely royal couple enjoying the breezy shadow on a very hot morning… just in case you think the pictures have the zoom on, not really, we were about 7 meters away from them, the thrill of seeing them so close was something i cannot explain, they look fierce, strong, owners of the land… but in a way they looked very cute!



in the eye of the… crocodile!


and a turtle on the rocks!


again the bird that pees


another bird, which by the way was also 2 meters away from me and was so huge i’m sure it took take your head off with that beak!!



we found this lagoon without expecting it and guess what we found IN the lagoon… HIPPOS!!!! see the lumps in the water? ok, so we had binoculars… we even saw them get up, yawn and get back in the water.


the tree in the middle of the lagoon was also full of nests of different time of birds


and there she was again, hiding but still so curious!


this is a KODU… family of the bambis i think, with just a meaner face!


mommy and son. 


our cabin in the SKUKUSA CAMP


and just before we left the KRUGER PARK, we had an amazing, exciting, almost scary moment…




right there next to us, they passed, on with their business, took their time, ate a bit (apparently elephants have a really bad digestive system making them spend all their time awake eating… this way they’ll digest all day and get filled up all day. ah an another detail, zebras have also a really bad digestive system, they fart a lot and that’s why you’ll never see a think zebra… they hold a lot of air!), looked around them,

and headed home… and so did we.

kruger park #001

it wouldn’t be africa,without a safari.

our way of dealing with these past sad feelings was not canceling our weekend at the ZOO, more precisely at the KRUGER PARK, two nights in the middle of nowhere in South Africa with a few cars, a few people, astonishing landscapes and guess what… animals, animals, animals.

now i know why my father never let my have the elephant i so much wanted and wished for, or a giraffe, or even a tiny lion… dad, you did the right thing by not giving me these “pets”. but you know what, i saw them, almost all of the animals we could see at the Kruger, we saw! just one was missing… Mr. Leopard, he hid very well from us and almost from everyone because on the TODAY and YESTERDAY charts there were almost no leopards to be seen.


our houses at the KRUGER’s BERG-EN-DAL lodge, very dingy looking, stopped in time back in the sixties, needed a bit of a refreshing new look, big and filled with creatures

after a somwhat wierd night we slept for 4hours and woke up very early to catch the safari caravan at 4:30. we were just waking up and so were the animals.



Mr.I-PEE-IN-MY-LEGS-BIRD is a odd creature, this bird pees on his legs so that they become white rather than being black like naturally so that the sun doesn’t feel so hot, and also to stop parasites to adopt his legs as home-sweet-home… kinda smart if it didn’t involve peeing on yourself! but oh well… 


Mr.CROCODILE wasn’t so brave as i would imagine, he simply ran away when he saw us passing above him on the bridge, it took a sharp eye to see him and seconds for him to run!


Mr. and Mrs BAMBI were very kind to us, they belong to the largest family at the KRUGER LAND so everywhere we went there they were, eating, getting themselves hypnotized by the sound of cars, they didn’t move and we got to the point of not even writing on our map that we saw them… after all the other animals i guess a few bambis weren’t so exciting.



Miss.GIRAFFE, now that’s a cute girl! i always thought of them as the princesses of savanas, they look so cute when they eat and so shy. their awkward legs make them look silly in a way, but a fun fact is that they protects so many animals, because they are so tall bambis, monkeys, zebras usually are found around them so that when trouble comes the tall girls let them know that they should RUN (i know the feeling!) anyway they also have another fun fact: when a lion for example gets close to them they usually do two things, they either run if they’re alone or if they’re in a group they tend to group up, look all together to the beast and run directly at them so the lion knows they’re on to him and they’re not scared!

now the lion isn’t stupid either, he knows that if he can just get a giraffe to run on the asphalt roads she will slip and fall, they are very silly when they run, each leg goes in a different direction, and the asphalt makes them even more uncoordinated! fascinating how each animal has a procedure!



Mr.RHINO, can’t say i’m a big fan, jeez they look fat and lazy, but gosh knows how fast they can be when they charge after you! so secret to all, smile for the picture but have someone always with the foot on the accelerator or looking out for any faster move!



Mr.BUFFALO has a very wierd haircut, good thing he was far away!



Mrs.MONKEY AND CHILD walked along like they didn’t even noticed us. i guess they have better things to do with their lives.



Mr.IGUANA-OR-SOMETHING-THAT-LOOKS-LIKE-IT wasn’t a nice friend, stood still, quiet behind the grass cold as ice.



M.ELEPHANT, now that’s what i call a majestic presence, they are HUMANGOUS and so much more old than i thought. i absolutely love elephants, i used to sign my name everywhere with a drawing of an elephant from the back all the time when i was young, even made a pillow with that drawing… anyway, they are gorgeous, and sooooo big! and so worth it! fun fact: when they cross the road, please don’t stand in front of him for the photo, just keep driving ’cause one touch from this guy and you’ll fly!



ZEBRA THE KID really looks like a young child wearing pantyhose all the way to their faces! they are beautiful, funny looking and intelligent. fun fact: when they feel the presence of a lion they usual stick together and when he charges they run in different directions! talk about confusing the guy!!!!

to be continued…


turning 29 wasn’t supposed to be such an important year. usually i’m just happy with a bog cake, singing twenty times the same song “happy birthday”, get calls, smss, emails and eventually presents… allright, i’ll confess i anxiously await my presents. i’ve always been this way, i’ve always liked December 13th. 

this year everything seems different. i woke up on this day and saw a beautiful sun! for the first time in my life my birthday wasn’t flowing with rain but with an amazing ocean! i was in africa, more precisely swimming in the Indian Ocean… transparent as water, warm as paradise beaches should be and surrounded by sunshine. i had my sister with me after 6 years of only hearing her say “parabéns” through the phone, i had new friends (blond and blue eyed friends!), and i heard that cute song in my own language again!!! i was having a great day, with a few presents but with so much love and care around me.

and then the phone rang once more, and i hear her voice for the last time. part of me accepted it, part of me ignored it for myself selfishly and also for my sister who is still too little to get hurt… to me. Vó Madalena, the most beautiful name ever, said like always in a unrecognizable voice “don’t forget to pray to the Holy Spirit, he will guide you” and i did that night, for her.  i believe she knew what was going on, and i believe we both knew what was about to happen. my mother still talked to me crying but wishing me the best of my life while she held her mother’s hand and cried in silence.

in the most selfish way i did enjoy that day. i, like i said, ignored the fact that far away from me there was a room in an Old People’s Home where there were no smiles, just prayers and hope. 

i turned 29 in a country where my own grandmother arrived when she was 29 years old… she passed on to me something so big i hope i will be able to make her proud. maybe it’s history all over again… or maybe it’s just her way of saying happy birthday


a fashion statement


a good first happy birthday song! with a microphone and everything!



picnic at the beach with another magic song



instead of like always having water coming from above… i was literally surrounded by this green ocean



just the girls…


and a special day




need my beauty sleep, the sun is the best sleeping pill even on your birthday




happy birthday to me


best gift? there were few but so nice, and i can’t deny it, i finally saw aldo take over the wheel and enjoyed looking at the view just like everyone else!


to all of you who sent messages, emails, facebook notes, who called and who in a way or another thought of my special day i thank you, i hope you realised how happy i am to have you in my life. i am very lucky… thank you, it’s been 29 years, some of you less but still all so important to me. 


i probably never told you this… but i have the most beautiful mother in the world. we have had our problems (and still do) but i hope one day i can hold her hand the same way she held her mother’s when she drew her last breath. i hope i can tell her from today whenever i talk to her how much i love her, how much i need her and how much i admire her… i know sometimes i get angry or upset, but her smell is what makes me sleep and her touch is what makes me feel safe…
mommy, we will always be here.

vó madalena 01.04.1922 – 16.12.2008

on the 13th of december when she talked to me on phone to wish me a happy birthday i couldn’t hear her, words were coming from her but she was already gone… i didn’t recognize her voice or her tone or even her heart… she was going… she was slowly giving up.
my grandmother madalena died three days later, slowly while holding my mother’s hand, apparently she didn’t suffer, she didn’t panic, she just let go and drew her last breath as if there was nothing else to do.
last time i saw her she was very smily, happy in her own way, not worried at all of her condition, still made a few remarks that makes us laugh because of her strange memory, still confused a few things that we had decided a long time ago to not correct because it was just too funny. she didn’t mind.

i didn’t have a great relationship with her, she was my mother’s mother to me, she once made me angry while i was a child and i gave up on us for 12 years, i never forgave her and she never insisted… you have no idea how much hurt and pain i feel for not being able to remember why i was so upset… what did she do to me that could made me stop holding her hand… i can’t remember and for the rest of my life i will hold on to the moment when she died as the moment that i should’ve said “i’m sorry”

for 6 years since i left lisbon i have suffered for anticipation of the things that can happen while i am away, i hated turning off my phone in case something happened but always thought if something dod happen i would fly home… until now… my sister is here and we thought about what we should do, we’ll fly back we said, but my mom decided to not let us, she said i’m here, she’s in peace and you need eachtoher there. “help eachother in this moment, let aldo and ana help you, and remember vó madalena is ok, she’s in peace and on her way to heaven… i need to be her daughter right now”
it is so hard to hear you mother be so strong when her mother has just passed away. i know she is suffering but when she talks to us she knows she has to be able to help us get through it too.

i knew this day would come when the distance between me and home would become so unbearable i would question where i am… i’m here and i won’t let this happen again…

i just hope she didn’t die angry, dissapointed, sad… just calm.
she was buried next to her husband, my grandfather mateus where he was waiting for her for the last 12 years. they’re together and i think though it will take some time we will be fine…