Despedida is a Portuguese word meaning farewell or goodbye. It’s generally used as shorthand for a farewell party. Between us, we had 5 (!) despedidas, as well as many personal goodbyes to the people who have made up our lives in Maputo. Lauren left before me, to spend a month in Portugal with my parents while I remained behind to sell furniture, finish my final work contract and generally ensure a smooth exit from Mozambique.
Lauren’s despedida started off on the last day of school with a special goodbye to her teachers and classmates at the French school where she has been incredibly happy.
Then in the afternoon, her party was held in the park at the end of our road, and we had an awesome cake, giant jenga and darts, and lots and lots of kids and adults. Her very first nursery teacher came, as well as her adored form teacher from the French school and a lot of close friends who have always been there for me during the ups and downs of being a single working mum in Maputo. It was a lot of fun, until people started to leave and it hit hard that this was the last time she would see many of her friends, schoolmates and teachers. Particularly sad was her goodbye to our nanny and housekeeper, who has been with us since she was born, and who has helped me raise her to be the wonderful, kind and mature child she is today. Another big goodbye was to Lauren’s cat Luke, who is being fostered by a kind friend until we are settled.
Once Lauren was happily settled in Portugal, I had a series of wonderful but also sad despedidas, with former colleagues from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Irish Embassy where I worked as an economist for four years, with a bunch of other economists with whom I have shared the many frustrations and crises of recent years, and then a final despedida on my very last night with friends, sundowners under the massive fig tree by the beach at the fabulous Southern Sun in Maputo.
It was a great way to close this chapter in our lives, and I am sure we will see many of our friends again in the future.