Friday, November 26, 2010

Tamuire, Thousand Island, and Thansgiving

Happy late Thanksgiving! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday and is enjoying a relaxing weekend. We had a blast celebrating Thanksgiving here. All the trainees put together a potluck and the food was OUTSTANDING. I may have felt more full than I have ever felt in my life. Some highlights of the dinner plate: a fabulous bruschetta appetizer that I think unfortunately didn’t even make it to the dinner (we may or may not have eaten the majority of it at the bar before the potluck), some really great salads with thousand island dressing, mashed potatoes soaked in gazpacho, and an ungodly number of desserts that all tasted even better with the chocolate peanut butter frosting that Michelle and I brought. Oh, and there was turkey, too… which I heard was pretty good, although I can’t attest to it myself.

We just finished up model school, and are glad to be done. After site placement last week, model school just wasn’t taken too seriously… lots of us had our subjects switched, and so teaching biology lessons this week just didn’t seem that useful. I tried teaching one English class, and that was quite the experience. I think we have adopted the theory of “when in doubt, just turn it into a song.” Regardless, the 2 weeks are over and although the last week was kind of silly, I do feel more confident in front of the classroom than I did before. I did get to teach the reproductive system to about ten 16 year old boys, and I survived, so that says something!

The beach weekend was so much fun. Both mornings we got down to the beach by about 7:30 and the water felt wonderful. I haven’t yet posted pictures, but I am “tagged” in some on facebook, so please check those out! Hopefully next week in Maputo I will have fast enough internet to get some pictures up. We ate good food and just spent the weekend relaxing. It was much needed.

Not too much more news on details on my site… I probably won’t know too much until I get there, unfortunately. My site is called Tamuire, Tete… if anyone has any luck finding any information on the internet, feel free to let me know! I have yet to find it on a map or mentioned anywhere, so any information would be much appreciated. We leave Namaacha next week for Maputo for swearing in, and then on Saturday we will fly to Chimoio, Manica for the “Supervisor’s Conference” for a couple days. After that, we get dropped off at site. I will probably be one of the last to be dropped off, so I might not get there until that Friday (2 weeks from now). My site is only 65 K from Tete City, which I have heard is pretty awesome. Specifically, I heard there are 3 pizzarias, which is good enough for me! Of course, I am anxious to share more information when I know it!

In other news, I think we are all ready to get out of our homestays. Since site placement, the host families seem to have forgotten us a little bit. It is an interesting balance of still treating us like we are 5 years old but then forgetting that we exist and still do need to eat lunch every day. I still think I had a great host family experience, but I am ready to move onto my own house. Tonight a bunch of us are going to the biggest restaurant in Namaacha, so that should be fun. I am trying to take advantage of every social opportunity possible before I am off alone to the bush. I really think I will get the best of both worlds with the truly rural experience while still being close enough to the city to get away every couple weeks. Looking forward to lots of reading, hopefully getting a guitar, and cooking some good food.

Well, since it is officially Christmas season, I will have to pick a Christmas tune for the song of the post. I’m going to pick The Chipmunks “Christmas, Don’t be Late” because Simon’s laugh just gets me every time (fast forward to about 1:30 in). I hope you all are getting in the holiday spirit—we are trying to get in it over here! Miss you all, more information coming soon!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Well, I am going to the bush. I got placed in Tete province, which is as northwest Mozambique as you can get. I am opening a new site alone, and apparently will be teaching English. This obviously could change once I get to site, but I probably won't know until right before school starts. Unfortunately, I probably won't be updating this blog too frequently seeing as I will have no electricity and no cell phone coverage in my village. I am feeling fine about it all; I knew that this was a possibility, yet my expectations had kind of changed throughout training. I don't have too many more details seeing as there is not a volunteer there now, but I am looking forward to having lots of interesting stores to tell! Promising more details when I know. :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Peanut butter cookies, Permagardening, and (im)Patience

Hello again! We just finished week 6 of training and it’s hard to believe that in 3 short weeks, we’ll be off to our sites! It seems like just yesterday we were counting the days until we got to the half-way point of training, but now all of a sudden we are so much closer to the end than we are to the beginning! My emotions are mixed – while I am anxious to be out of the watchful eye of a host family (“No, I didn’t take a second bath today, I didn’t want to!”) I know it will be quite the change to be away from all the friends we’ve made (and English we’ve spoken) during training.

The last 2 weeks have been pretty busy. Last week we got the chance to have a “permagarden” workshop. This was definitely one of my favorite sessions so far. We were trained in not only how to make our own personal garden, but how to teach people in our community how to build one. I’m excited to grow some of my own food! Hopefully that is something I can really carry out once I am at site. This week we have been mostly preparing for model school, which starts on Monday. We will be giving full 45 minute biology lessons to real Mozambican students.  It is actually summer vacation here, so the students are mostly volunteers from our host families. I am anxious to see how much my Portuguese is challenged during the next 2 weeks! I’m giving one lesson on the female reproductive system, so that should be pretty fun!

This blog post would not be representative of our preoccupation if I didn’t mention site placement, too. I doubt an hour goes by without someone bringing up something about the big announcement that we’ll have this Thursday. Whether it be a funny dream (I dreamed I got placed in Kansas), new “fofoca” (gossip) about which sites are opening up, or just general stress elevation (I’ve been grinding my teeth again at night), site placement is on everyone’s mind. Apparently in the past years, everyone receives an envelope at the end of the day and has to wait to open it at the same time. This may include a lot of information, or just a little bit if we are opening a new site, but apparently there is a big map of Mozambique that we all go and put our names on with our general location. I really don’t think I’ll be able to control my facial expressions during this. Mozambique is just a really BIG country. Our friends for the next 2 years are pretty much just who we can travel easily to see, so we are all anxious to find out who they’ll be! I think, at least within the education group, though, that most of us get along pretty well. Time will tell!

Next weekend we have our mental health break, conveniently placed right after site placement, so we will all be going to the beach. Not sure if I’ll have an update for the weekend, but hopefully soon after I’ll be able to let everyone know where I’ll be living for the next 2 years!! I’ll also hopefully get some good “people” pictures so I can prove that I do have friends in this country.

Of course this update wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include something about food. Last weekend another trainee Michelle and I made the BEST peanut butter cookies with chocolate peanut butter frosting. My host sister helped us with making a “traditional oven” (dutch oven) and they turned out spectacularly. We are going to make them again for the Thanksgiving potluck. This weekend we might try to make a cake. I am going to start a “bread binge” this week, too. Apparently the bread here in Namaacha is much better than we’ll have at site, and you can by a “loaf” for about 15 cents. I decided it’s time to take advantage of it! I’ll obviously still eat the other food as well… just swapping out snack crackers for bread.

Well, I do promise that the next post will have some big news- hopefully good- about my next 2 years. I hope you are staying warm back home (you can think of our days with a high of 105 here to warm up) and all have wonderful plans for Thanksgiving! The first holiday away will be tough, but I know it will make Thanksgiving 2013 that much more special! :) Sorry to get slightly corny here, but I am definitely learning how much I have to be thankful for. But, more on that later!

The song for this post doesn’t quite have a literal connection to my experience, but is just what I’ve been listening to lately. Here’s a shout-out to my sister, Molly- the song is “The Sun” by Portugal the Man. She burned me some CDs before I left and I’ve found the ideal time to listen to them is while I’m washing my clothes outside. This past weekend I had SO much laundry, and definitely got through a couple albums, including this one, and was pleased!

Okay, thanks for reading such a long post! Miss you all!