Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mud, mud, and mud.

I’ve been in Africa for over 2 weeks now, although it feels like it has been much longer than that! As slow as the first week of training felt, though, the second week flew by. We actually started having some of our technical sessions (okay, one of our technical sessions so far) in Portuguese! I think pretty soon they all are, which I think will really help my Portuguese get better. I practice as much as possible at my homestay, and I have a fair amount of confidence that I can “survive on the streets” with what I know, but my Portuguese still needs a LOT of work! Pretty soon I’ll be in a school teaching, though, and I’ll have no choice but to learn it!

Outside of language classes, we have been learning a lot about the education system and what it is like to teach in Mozambique schools from the current volunteers who help train us. It is pretty different from America… resources will be very scarce, classrooms will be crowded, and the rules of the system might take some time to get used to. I don’t want to say too much about specifics because each school varies, so once I actually am in my own school I’ll be able to tell more about that.

Some things I was not expecting in Africa:
-       COLD. It has been cold and rainy all week. Last night it was probably around 50 and raining- so let’s just say the one sweatshirt I have here is getting it’s use.
-       To ask for more beans and rice. Although my family has been doing a great job at feeding me lots of variety and vegetables, beans and rice has proven to be the most satisfying. I feel as though I’m hungry constantly just because not much of the food has many nutrients, so I tried to convey that I REALLY like the beans and would like more of them!
-       To argue that the water from the spring is much cleaner than the water from our tap. We have one in our front yard, but it’s not used very much and I thought it was broken. My mom and sisters walk to the spring most mornings to collect water (which they carry back on their heads… 20 L worth!) instead of using the tap. I am not sure if it just started working, or if they only use it for specific uses, but they were actually running it the other day and compared to our “spring river” water, it was filthy! Once my Portuguese improves I might be able to ask more about this…
-       To not be allowed to wash my underwear outside, yet to see a woman breastfeeding as she is cooking my dinner.
-       To cut towards my face. The number one rule of cooking in America is completely pointless here- the knives are so dull that even if I tried, I could not cut my finger, nor my face for that matter.
-       To look forward to my “home latrine” when I am away from my homestay. It’s funny how a home toilet is a home toilet, seat or not.
-       To take the least number of showers of anyone in my house. I was able to successfully communicate that I don’t like to shower unless I sweat (“shower” meaning bucket bath) and they agreed much more easily than other volunteers host families. When as many as 9 people need to use the water in my house, they are happy to let me save some! Unless it is hot, I usually only take a bucket bath in the morning after jogging.

Okay, well there will be more to come. The song for this post is “The Wind” by Cat Stevens. Obviously it is fitting to think of this song after hearing the wind during a storm in a house with a tin roof, but it is also a good song about moving to a new place and having new experiences.

Hope you all are doing well back home, and talk to you soon!


  1. It's so sweet to find a new post, Hannah, and to find an e-mail earlier. What you said about the "home toilet" is so true - I used to sit out in the old outhouse and just sing when I was a little girl. Be it ever so humble----------- I love what you are writing!! xxxxxxxxxxxoooooxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Thanks for posting the pics!!! Makes it easier to be able to "see" you!

  3. I am a quilting blog friend of your Grandma Carol. I find your blog so interesting. I will be praying for you daily also. I admire your courage.

  4. Love you, Hannah! So good to hear your voice today, too!!

    Norah and Chad

  5. I love reading about your adventure. I also love the pictures, am able to kind of see what you are talking about. Be safe and be happy. I am a friend from the quilting guild of your grandmas. I am also a Teacher that taught Special Ed. for 15 years, I know that you are going to love your teaching experience.

  6. Google has a language translator from English to Portuguese which translates "When should I use water from the faucet in the front yard?" to "Quando devo usar água da torneira no quintal da frente?" It is called Google Translate and you may be able to click on|pt|

    It sounds like you are having quite an adventure!

    Norm and Diane

  7. Hannah, I had to chuckle at your comment about taking a photo in the latrine! We love you, B & A