Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crianca whispering, Coca-cola, and Christmas!

Hello! I am happy to say that I am blogging from a much better mental state than last time. Since getting back from the city on Thursday evening, everything has just been pretty great. I was greeted by a bunch of teachers at a bar when I got off the chapa that Thursday afternoon, and sat with them for a couple hours. I have not had a beer at site yet, and so usually just order a soda. Well, let me tell you, I have had more soda in the last week than I would ever want to drink. Since I ordered one the first time, now whenever I sit down another teacher orders a Coke for me. And when I finish that one, they order another one for me, regardless of whether I want it or not. If I say I don’t want it, I have to take it home with me. It’s getting a little ridiculous. I’m also not quite sure on what is appropriate here… if they order it, do I offer to pay? I haven’t yet, and no one has said anything, so I’m thinking I don’t. It’s too bad I’m not drinking beer- think of how many free beers I could get!

Anyway, since I have been back, I have honestly been pretty busy! Every morning I get up around 5:30, go for a jog, take a bucket bath, sit on my porch and read while I eat some crackers, bananas, and peanut butter, and then go help the teachers with grading for a while. I go home to make lunch (which I have made some pretty awesome things- curried vegetable rice will become a staple!), do some crossword puzzles, wander around in the afternoon, usually find some teachers to sit with for a while, play guitar, usually have a visitor of some sort stop by my house to chat, eat leftover lunch for dinner, crawl into my mosquito net at about 6:30 when it gets dark, and read and watch movies until about 9! Wow, typing it up makes that seem REALLY not exciting, but I promise it is actually pretty nice. I’ve found a good balance of finding some kind of project to make the day have a purpose and being content with just relaxing the rest of the day. I was also surprised on Friday by a visit from Eden, a fellow volunteer, and I returned the favor by visiting her Sunday afternoon. She is only about 20 K away, but neither of us have cell phone service so we just have to “drop by” and hope that the other is around. It’s nice to know someone is so close!

The only thing that has really started to get to me this week is the criancas (children). There is a group of about ten kids that just sit outside my house and stare at me. All day. From the moment I open my door to the moment I close it, they are there. They don’t speak Portuguese, either, so I can’t even talk with them. At first they were kind of cute, and we just exchanged a lot of smiles, but the novelty is wearing off. They started knocking on my windows at night, too, which I yelled at them for. I hate being mean, but seriously, I can only say “Ola!”  back at them so many times in one day. I’ve started calling myself the “crianca whisperer” but I’m hoping that this will not be a 2 year commitment.

Now I am down in Moatize for Christmas! I successfully (sort of) made some tortilla chips from scratch to bring, and we have already made some pretty good things. Audrey and Helen have an oven, so the possibilities are endless! We already made the first batch of cookies (chocolate cookies with peanuts), and there was talk of vegetarian lasagna for Christmas. I’m just excited to be back in cell phone contact for a couple days, to spend some time with some new great friends, and to hopefully sing some Christmas carols! I am missing everyone back home a LOT- it’s tough to be so far away! One of the teachers asked to see photos of my family. At first I was like “of course!”… and then I had to tell him I thought it would be better to wait until after the holidays to look at pictures- I honestly would have started crying in front of him if I got those out. I got a little choked up the other day when I was helping with the grading when I noticed that my handwriting looked a little like my mom’s… ridiculous. It’s a good miss, though- I am just thankful that I have family and friends back home that I love so much! Not everyone is so fortunate.

Not to get sappy, but the song for the post is “Merry Christmas, Darling” by the Carpenters. This is one of my all time favorite Christmas songs (I can just hear my mom, now, telling me how sad it is that Karen Carpenter died so young), and it is obviously fitting for a Christmas away from family. I’ll be there in spirit! Feel free to call me over the holiday… 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! Have such a wonderful holiday!


  1. I am crying happy tears early this Christmas Eve eve. I am so proud of you! Sounds like a rich life in Moz.

  2. I just opened the best Christmas present I could ever get when I found an e-mail and a new post from you, dear granddaughter. How wonderful to read your words about your life away from us. Anxious to hear your voice. So much love and xxxxxxxoooooooxxxxxxxx Grandma

  3. You so awesome, dear Hannah! Loved to read your posts and even read them out loud to Danny as he was resting up from an early breakfast at the Boulevard with Steve. He says you should go for the free beer instead of the cokes. It is really fun to read of your days there and to hear how well you are adapting. We are missing you so much but know that you will have a very Merry Christmas in your own new way. Take care of yourself! (also loved the image of you "yelling" at the kids to get them to stop tapping on your windows!) Lots of love and hugs, Deb

  4. A belated Merry Christmas Hannah and a wonderful 2011. Enjoy learning the new traditions and spirits of Christmas in another culture. I am sure you will embrace it. Curious - what language DO the kids speak. Maybe you could invent some new form of sign language or pig latin to teach them to get your point across. :)

  5. So interesting to read your blog. My mother served in the Peace Corps in Nepal 1964-66. Your experiences so far remind me of letters she wrote.

  6. It was wonderful talking and listening to you at Christmas, sorry I'm a little late reading your post. I hope the novelty has worn-off for the little rascals! Remember, "Things go better with Coke!"

    Love, UB & AA