Sunday, October 31, 2010

One month done!

I have officially been in Africa for a month! This week was pretty slow training-wise, but I had some pretty valuable interactions with my host family, so that made it a successful week. On Tuesday, our classes ended early so I actually was home in time to help make dinner. Although we usually don’t eat until 8, when I get home around 6 or after the food is usually just cooking. Getting home at 4:30, though, allowed me to help with most of the prep-work (and only most- my sister had already done a lot of the stuff before I got home… can you imagine starting to cook dinner at 3 EVERY day?? Maybe some people can, but that’s not how cooking usually went for me). I got to “pilar” some peanuts (grind) and then shred the coconut. This involves sitting on a little seat with a sharp, round, shredding device on the end that you roll the coconut over. Coconut is in almost everything here- and I actually like it! I have always hated coconut, but it’s really the texture that I hate. Here they just use the milk, so the flavor is all you get. Usually it is combined with peanuts and some kind of green to put over rice, and I’ve started to like it a lot!

My family is starting to understand my sense of humor, too. A couple weeks ago they showed me pictures of a previous volunteer that they housed and talked about how funny he was and how much he liked to joke around, so I figured it was time to start stepping up my game. Last night they were filling up the plate for the dog (did I mention we have a dog? Not as cute as Gracie, but it is cute) and they put xima (corn or flour based starch staple dish) and cabbage on the plate, which was exactly what I ate (they all had beef, too), so I asked if the dog was vegetarian too and they nearly fell out of their chairs laughing. It was funny because I’ve definitely said some wittier things that did not go over so well, so perhaps I need to simplify my jokes- at least until my Portuguese is better.

Some other interesting observations by my family- I was explaining about how much I hate to wash my jeans (and let me tell you, if you hate doing laundry with a washing machine, try to hand wash the mud out of your jeans in the African sun and then you might change your mind) and they told me that I shouldn’t stop wearing jeans just because they are hard to wash because apparently I have a body “like a guitar” that looks good in jeans. Not quite sure what that means, but I think it was supposed to be a compliment.

This week we went to Swaziland! Or more like we stepped into Swaziland, got our passports stamped, and then walked back out. Apparently for our visas to stay good we need to leave the country every month (or something), so that was the task for Thursday. All of our classes were cancelled in order for us to do this, so it was a nice break day for us to just “passear” and relax. Passearing is one my favorite things about Mozambique so far. It can be used for anything that you are doing that is not work or school. Anytime you leave the house for social purposes you are going to “passear.” You might be going to the bar, going to walk “downtown,” going to the market, it doesn’t matter.  It’s especially convenient for me now when I don’t always have the vocabulary to explain what my plans are with friends- I just tell my mom I’m going to passear and it’s all understood. She encourages me to hang out with friends as opposed to making me feel guilty, so that’s nice. All the trainees had a Halloween party last night, and my dad was trying to tell me that I needed to be home early so I wouldn't have to walk home in the dark, but my mom was totally on my side and told me it didn't matter when I got home. I am living to tell about it, so clearly she was right to trust me! :)

The song for this post is.... Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Odd choice, I know, but we have this talent show thing a couple of times during training, and my group performed this! I have a video, but the internet might be too slow to upload it... anyway, it was pretty funny, and has been stuck in my head all week! Hopefully more pictures to come!

Miss you all!


  1. Continue to love the pics!! You look amazing!The fam is wonderful to see. How about your host mom and dad? What's up with the barbed wire fences every where?

  2. How sweet it was to hear your voice even for just such a short time! I am loving this post and the pictures. You're looking wonderful, Hannah Alice! Sending you lots of love and xxxxxxooooooooxxxxxxxxxxxx

  3. Love the pics! Please keep posting, my sunburned Hannah!

    Glad to know you're doin' well and that there are fun things to "passear" your time with... ha. ha. ha.

    Love you much, guuuuurl!

  4. Hey from Kansas! Wonderful reporting, looks like a top notch group you're with. You look great and so does your family there. I think Ann and I will passear a little today and get ready for the week... Ann travels to NY and I will sit in the basement! We love you, A and B

  5. talent show, eh? your rhapsody training/skills are still valuable!