Saturday, October 17, 2009

I am alive and well and Mozambique is awesome!

Djishili! Bom Dia a todos! Greetings from Mozambique!
(Mashangana, Portuguese, English)

(Note: I wrote this blog ahead of time so I could post it in my 15 minutes of internet time!)

I have been here for two weeks now, but it feels like months. Time slows down when everything is new and different. Each moment is significant and your brain works hard to process it all. Already though, I’m starting to settle in and get into the rhythm of life here.

At the moment it’s 18:17 and starting to get dark but kids are still hollering and running around outside. Earlier I was sitting on our veranda enjoying the evening breeze and the perfect temperature. You earn evenings like that after a long hot day. It’s peaceful … sort of. Once you get past the techno music blasting from the neighbor’s house, you can still hear the chickens cluck, the evening birds sing, the coal fire crackle and the wind move the leaves in the banana and papaya trees.

Mamá Joana was cooking “cove” over a coal stove and Filó was twisting her hair into dreads. Earlier, Filó showed me how to grind rice and peanuts into flour using a giant wooden mortar and a pestle that takes two hands to wield. She taught me to toss the dry mixture in a shallow woven basket to separate the ground-up part from the rest. We then cracked a coconut on a rock and scraped out the white flesh using a serrated spoon attached to a footstool. Mamá and Filó got a kick out of watching me struggle at all of the aforementioned activities. It’s not easy, but I started to figure it out.

They also find it hilarious to watch me try to wash my clothes in buckets. It’s something I’ve done before, but not the “Mozambican way,” which is always very particular. If I don’t turn my shirt inside out before hanging it up, for example, Mamá starts laughing then comes over to show me how to do it “right.” Washing the floors the “Mozambican way” is another interesting experience. It involves a bucket of soapy water and a rag that you wipe across the floor from one corner to the other. You bend over the whole time. Seeing as Mozambican women wash the floors every morning I don’t know how they don’t all have hunchbacks. Maybe their posture is corrected by carrying giant jugs of water on their heads. The women must carry it to their homes from the village fountain since there is no running water.

I wish I could spend more time with my host family, but training goes all day. I wake up early to run when I can (not often) and get home in time to take my morning bucket bath, eat breakfast, pack a lunch and hit the “road” (i.e. the winding dirt paths that lead into town). We have language classes in the morning, technical training midday, then more language classes in the afternoon. By the time classes get out I only have 2 or so hours of daylight left. When I come home I take another bath, help out with dinner, and then chill with Mamá, Filó and “a menina” (“the girl,” as they call my 3 year old sister). The regular evening activity is watching steamy Brazilian soap operas. Sequestering in my room is rude, but sometimes I have to get away from the constant television noise to plan my lessons and do my Portuguese homework.

Lessons! We are already giving mini Biology lessons in Portuguese. At the moment we are just practicing with each other, but in a few weeks we will start “model classroom” where we get to teach Mozambican students in the local secondary school. I’m amazed at how much Portuguese I am already speaking. The learning curve is steep when you are totally immersed.

It’s now 19:32. I took a break from writing this entry to eat way too much “cove.” I can say it’s better than most of the food I’ve been eating. My digestive system doesn’t do well on a diet heavy with rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, and “shima” (sticky grits made from millet). Mamá and I have had frequent discussions about nutrition and now fruits and vegetables are starting to find their way into my diet (and theirs too!). I have compromised my vegetarianism enough to start eating fish here as a necessary source of protein. One can only eat so many deep-fried eggs.

Now I’m sitting under my mosquito net on my bed. There are geckos on my bedroom walls and crickets singing in the rafters. When I went out to the outhouse I could see Southern Hemisphere stars. On my way back I saw the brilliant green light of a glow worm. There are neat creatures here, especially lizards. Some of them have bright blue heads.

Now I’m just rambling so I’ll save the rest for a future blog entry.

Overall conclusion: I am alive and well and Mozambique is awesome!

The favorite greeting here is “tudo bem?” (“all well?”). I hope the answer for all of you is a resounding “tudo bem!!” This has been my cheerful response to the friendly greetings of all my neighbors here in Mozambique. Stay tuned and keep in touch!


P.S. Photos to come later. I haven’t taken any yet, but I will.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like great adventures!!! I am especially jealous of the southern hemisphere stars and the geckos. (can you get close to them?) Thanks for keeping us updated on your amazing journey. Oh and ... I forgot to mention that I am jealous of the hot temperatures! It is above freezing in Calgary today and that is cause for celebration. Still not too comfortable sitting on the porch. Stay well!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoGinger