Sunday, September 2, 2012

Safari, Sherry, and So-Longs

Hello again, friends and family! Today is Sunday of Labor Day weekend, and I imagine America is enjoying the last real weekend of summer. I sincerely hope everyone is eating lots of barbeque, corn on the cob, and ICE CREAM! Here in Kaunda (and yes, I will post this from my site thanks to my fancy new internet modem that goes with our new cell phone network and allows me to get on the internet in my bedroom), I am spending a lazy Sunday catching up on grading, lesson planning, and yes, blog post writing.

So what’s been going on? Since my last update, I feel like I have had quite a month and a half! As I mentioned, my mom came over to visit at the beginning of August. It was great! After meeting her in Johannesburg, we went to Kruger National Park in eastern South Africa where we spent 3 days spotting elephants, lions, giraffes, hippos, and maybe leopard eyes at night… but that is up for debate. The lodge was beautiful, right outside the park. In the morning we could sit on the upstairs deck and watch elephants coming to the river, and at night we were treated to wonderful South African meats (which I ate- I am now a ravenous meat-eater, if you didn’t know!). From there, we flew on to Cape Town, where we spent a few rainy-ish days wandering the city doing all the good tourist stuff. After Cape Town, my mother braved the left side of the road and drove us to Hermanus, known for its whale watching. We took a great “cliff hike,” and saw many whales out in the ocean. From Hermanus, we hopped on the Garden Route and stopped at Knysna, another nice touristy town, and ended up in Port Elizabeth after stopping at one more elephant park along the way. All in all, a great trip and a wonderful way to spend some time with my mom! I think she enjoyed herself, despite my insistence on only eating or staying places where we could watch the Olympics.

After such a great trip, getting back to site was a stressful occurrence. I lost my Mozambican SIM card in South Africa, and was just overall worried about going back to loneliness after vacation. My mom gave me a good pep talk (even though she ended up being the teary one upon saying goodbye… or maybe that was both of us), and I was able to by a new card in Tete City before going back up to site. Good thing I did, too, because upon arrival, I was met by some upsetting news and was happy to be able to call someone for support.

When I leave site, I generally leave Harriet at my director’s house, where his wife takes care of her. Generally they just keep her tied up the whole time, but since she’d been running free lately and I really didn’t want her to spend that long of a time on a rope, I told them it was okay to let her be free.

 As soon as I got to site, one of my students ran up to help me carry my bags. We chatted a bit, and I asked him, “And my dog, she’s still alive?” kind of jokingly. “She died!” he responded, with a huge smile. “You’re kidding, right? You are lying?” I asked him. “No, she died. A car. Okay, goodbye, Teacher.”

This is what I had been afraid of. I unlocked my house and headed over to the director’s house to see if it was true, and sure enough, just one look at my director’s wife’s face and I knew. She told me she had been taking good care of her, but she ran out the street one day and was hit by a semi. It was apparently only 4 days before I got back. I couldn’t really ask more questions as I knew I would start crying, and I had a hunch that crying was not something that would not be acceptable for the death of a dog in Mozambique. This was confirmed when people proceeded to bring up how my dog died in any type of conversation I had in the next few days. Besides a few colleagues who recognized that this dog was like my child, very few people seemed to think it was anything more than just something that happened. While the first week was rough, and I still miss Harriet, I have come to terms with the fact that she did live a much better 8 months with me than she would have otherwise, and I am very thankful to not have been there to witness it. A goodbye was coming in November anyway, but I am very sad our time together was cut short.

Despite the loss of my little companion, third trimester was already in full swing and it was time to get back to work! One of my colleagues had attempted to give some of my classes while I was gone, but between his busy schedule and a lack of participation at the beginning of the trimester, I had a lot of catching up to do. It felt very good to get back to teaching, though, and I think the students were really happy to have me back. Because of the provincial exams taking up the last 3 weeks of the trimester, a 2 week break, and me missing the beginning of the new trimester, I had not given actual lessons since June! It came right back, though, and I have been working hard to make these last classes I give in Mozambique good ones.

Secondary projects continue to struggle, but exist. My REDES girls keep asking when we are meeting, but as soon as we plan a meeting, they don’t show up. I have given up on forcing soccer practices for the girls, but am happy on the occasional day when they decide they want to show up to go out and play with them. And English Club, anticipating the English Theater Competition at the end of September, has started rehearsing their theater piece, although they often claim they have too much homework to come to practice. While this situation would normally get me down during my time in Kaunda, I have settled into a nice “last 3 months at site” mindset, and I have to say… it’s pretty nice. The pressure is gone! Sure, I want my projects to function well, but at this point, I can’t force it. The students are busy, the schedule is hard for them to find time, and when you look at the big picture, my secondary projects have been a success! The REDES group, for example, exists, and I truly believe will continue when I am gone. It’s struggling to meet regularly right now, but the girls who take part consider themselves part of the group, have learned what it means to be a REDES girl, and have two other Mozambican women teachers that they know support them. At this point, I’m okay accepting that and waiting for them to take action. Sometimes I feel guilty, but I don’t want to spend my last 3 months being disappointed that they don’t show up every week… I’d rather admit that finding time to meet has been difficult this year, but the group exists. And hey, if it means my evenings are free to relax, that’s okay with me! What happens next year is up to the girls, and the new volunteer(s).

So that’s the other big news… Kaunda will for sure be getting at least one, if not two, PCVs for the next two years. I’m thrilled. It’s a great site for a volunteer, especially now that communication is not an issue. It’s a pretty small site for two volunteers, but I’m sure they will figure out how to make it their own if that is the case. I just hope the school has work for them! I keep thinking every evening “wow, I can’t believe in less than 3 months I will just leave forever.” And then one day it hit me “Wow, in just over 3 months, one or two more people will be arriving here to live for 2 years, in MY house!” I guess it won’t be my house anymore! In terms of the school, the pedagogical director (the one who actually deals with scheduling, etc) that I worked under has been transferred, being replaced by two teachers who I strongly approve of. They don’t really drink and are very organized, something that will be really good for the school. It will be interesting to learn (hopefully the volunteers keep blogs!) how Kaunda is running in years to come.

That brings me pretty much up to date. This has been pretty much a newsy post, but maybe I’ll think of some profound things to write about in these last few months - no promises, though. I hope life continues to be wonderful back home. I did set my alarm for 3:45 am this morning to check the Michigan score at half time, but was disappointed. L It’s early, though, and I just feel lucky to be more in the loop this year now with internet access! I leave Mozambican soil on November 30, so I am in the homestretch. On Thursday, all of Moz15 heads down to Maputo for our “Close of Service” Conference. I’m hoping it will be both informative and a good chance to catch up with our training class, almost 2 years after arriving in country. I will hopefully get to upload some pictures of my vacation from Maputo, too, where it won’t take as long as from here!

Oh, and I know at this point 2 years ago I was going crazy reading blogs from PC Moz as I tried to figure out how to get ready to leave at the end of September. So, if any Moz19 future PCVs are out the reading this, know you are coming to a wonderful place! Don’t stress out too much about packing (easier said than done, I know). After visiting the surrounding African countries, I can honestly say that Mozambique is the friendliest country in this part of Africa. Enjoy your last few weeks at home, but know it will not take long for Moz to feel like home!

On that note, I will wrap it up. The song for this post is “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty. Happy Labor Day, and enjoy the last few warm weeks of summer!


  1. Beautiful post, my beautiful granddaughter! Enjoy the rest of your time in the Peace Corps and be assured that you come home to open arms and loving hearts!! You have made us all so proud, Hannah Alice! xxxxxoooooxxxxx Grandma

  2. Hello! I'm a Moz 19er! I loved reading your post. I'm so sorry to hear about Harriet. That was actually the name I had picked out for the dog I plan on having while I'm in Moz. My favorite lake in Minnesota is Lake Harriet so that's where that came from.
    It's also really nice to get an accurate, or at least honest, idea of how secondary projects can go and the frustrations you can experience with them.
    It's so reassuring to read about how wonderful Mozambique is. I'm so excited, nervous, and anxious. Thank you for posting! Enjoy your last few weeks!

  3. hello my teacher, I am Sergio from school tamuiri