Friday, October 23, 2009


This blog is being written in real time. Mozambican time that is. It’s 17:20 and I’m somehow the only one at the internet café. We had an easier than normal day today. After giving more 20 minute practice Biology lessons (in Portuguese, of course!), we gathered with our language learning groups and our host moms + various other female relatives to have a cooking lesson. We made matapa, a traditional dish of Mozambique. The coconuts had to be cracked open then scraped out on a bench with a built-in coconut scraper (essential in every Moz kitchen). The peanuts and rice had to be pounded into flour. The cove and nganha (leafy greens) had to be chopped up with dull knives. All the knives here are dull as a rule. This fact made the other task (the killing of the chickens) to be particularly traumatic. (The following description is not for the faint of heart. You may wish to skip it).

I abstained on the grounds that I wasn’t going to eat the chicken, but the other girls in our group had to participate. I made myself busy cracking open a coconut but could hear the screams (not sure which came from the girls and which from the chickens). One girl started cutting with her eyes closed (bad start) and another from our group took over. The knife was so dull that she had to saw away for quite a while before the jugular was severed. To top it all off, one of the host mothers took the chicken’s severed head and used its feathers to wipe the spattered blood off the poor girl’s bare feet. Yeah… happy to be a vegetarian today. I did my part after the killing by helping to pluck the chicken (not an easy task let me tell you).

(Ok, rated G again now).
We made coconut milk from the coconut shavings and cooked it with the peanut-rice flour, cove or nganha, and onions and tomatoes to make a delicious sauce that we put over chima (paste made of millet flour). This was served along with the chicken for a great feast. I definitely ate too much.

I had more to say, but I am slightly distracted by the odd entreaties by the Mozambican man who decided to waltz in here and practice his English with me. “Hello baby, hello baby, hello baby, you not want practice English with me because you are work?” I like to help people with their English, but not if the request begins with “hello baby.”

What else… I am starting to feel more at home with my host family. They love the fact that I wear a capulana around the house now (I bought two beautiful ones at the market on Wendesday for 150 Metacais). “You are a real Mozambican now!” was the response of Mamá Joana. It made me feel pretty good. I think I’m going to have the other capulana made into a skirt at the local tailor. I'm also earning points by tossing out the random phrases of xishangana that I pick up here and there. The following phrase is useful for the village children: "A vitho dzanga hi Clancy, ani mulungo!" ("My name is Clancy, not white person!"). The kids in my neighborhood now shout "Clancia Clancia!" instead of "mulungo mulungo!" When you don't want to be bothered you can say "nita cugumula!" ("I'm going to bite you!") and they'll run away giggling and/or screaming.

We’re moving up to 45 minute practice lessons next week. Pretty soon we’ll start model school in a real Moz classroom. I definitely have a lot to learn about being a teacher, but I’m loving it so far! It’s challenging (especially in Portuguese), but it gets me charged up. To any of you teachers out there who are reading this: I’d love some advice! - especially from any Biology teachers who have ideas for activities/demonstrations I can do in the classroom that don’t require a lot of resources.

That’s all for now. Thank you for the e-mails! Keep them coming. I read them.

Salani! Tchau! Bye!

1 comment:

  1. Ahahahah! Chickenocide.

    To be fair, not sure I couldn't kill a chicken myself. ESPECIALLY with a dull knife, however, hearing your reactions are priceless.

    Question: would it be more or less traumatizing to wring the neck before cutting it off?