Saturday, October 9, 2010

Latrines, Larium, and Lingua

Ola tudos! I have been in Namaacha, Mozambique for a week now, and feel like I have experienced every emotion possible while here. I can only imagine what the next 8 weeks hold! I was planning on having plenty of time to write a nice long entry, but I have noticed that “plenty of time” isn’t really possible to find during training! I’ll try to include as much as possible!

Last Saturday, all of the Trainees piled into chapas (buses/taxis) to travel to Namaacha. We unloaded at the IFP, a nice building where teacher training occurs in Namaacha. After waiting for a while (which seems to be quite common in the Peace Corps), we finally got to meet our host families. This in itself was quite a sight to see. The moms (and some dads) all came marching in singing a traditional African song, after which they all came running over holding out post-it notes with our names on them. I was met by my host sister, who walked me back to my house to meet the rest of the family. My host mom and dad were in Maputo for the day, but I met them later in the afternoon. My family is great; I have 2 sisters (17 and 18), 2 brothers (6 and 9), and 2 cousins that live with us most of the time. I have my own room, and the rest of the family shares 2 bedrooms, a hallway/bedroom, and a living room/dining room. The kitchen is off the front porch and the bathroom is outside. Although I don’t have running water like a couple lucky trainees, I do have a pretty nice set up. It’s funny that I consider my outdoor bathroom sans running water to be luxury compared to what some trainees have (or what I have heard the high school bathroom in Namaacha is like)!

I’d be lying if I said the first week was not tough. The first weekend was one of the hardest of my life. After feeling so connected with all the other trainees at orientation, I was suddenly separated from them and dropped in a house where no one spoke my language or knew anything about me or my culture- and I was lacking the ability to tell them anything! I only saw another PC person at church Sunday (3 hours long!) and spent the weekend feeling very alone, even though I was never really by myself. I knew that things would get better once classes started and I saw the other trainees, but I had to remind myself of this quite a bit.

Sure enough, once classes started, things started getting a lot better. My Portuguese has already improved drastically, and I can communicate with my family pretty well. I still have a LONG way to go, but I have enough confidence that I can usually get the message across, even if it is with terrible grammar and vocabulary.  I LOVE my sisters; they are so funny and now that I can speak a little better, they actually think I am funny, too… or at least they laugh at me a lot.  I use the word “tentei” (“I tried”) after just about everything, and they seem to think that’s pretty funny. We have language classes every day, in addition to education technical classes. My days start and end much earlier here than in the States. I’ve been waking up at 5 to jog with some other trainees (it’s not hard to get up- I wake up anyway around 4 when the chickens and roosters start their racket) and tuck in my mosquito net around 9:30. I think the next 8 weeks will go by pretty quickly.

I have yet to get too sick (knock on wood), although the anti-malaria meds have made us all a bit loopy.

The reason that I did not have as much time as I’d hoped to have tonight was that my homestay “pai” just completed another year towards his bachelor’s certificate to be a professor of professors (I think). He completed something, at least, I’m sure of that. We all were poured Cokes (he had champagne for himself) and he proceeded to read off his entire certificate (including every class completed and grade received over the last 3 years) out loud, after which we all toasted. Although our 6:30 am departure to Maputo for the day tomorrow is suddenly much closer than it was when I intended to go to sleep, I am glad I got to share the celebration with my family here.

The song for the post is:
The Rolling Stones: “I am Waiting” just because it seems like we are all waiting to find out what our lives will really be like over the next 2 years... in addition to the fact that in Mozambique, we seem to spend a lot of time waiting for things to get started! And it's just a really good song. :)

Okay, ate logo everyone! I think there is an internet cafe in Namaacha, so I can update sometime again during training. I'm just warning you now: my English is only going to get worse from here on out. :) Oh! And I promise I'll have pictures to post EVENTUALLY....


  1. I'm so happy - an e-mail and a post from you this morning! I devoured every word you wrote. It must have been very hard to make such a big change, but you sound like you are adapting well and that you have a great host family. For now, Hannah, God bless you and I love you so very much. Take good care of you!!!!

  2. Love you Hannah! I am assuming you have electricity at your homestay? I think you are funny, too! Can't wait to hear more about church!