October 26, 2012

Killing chickens and improving Portuguese

October 24, 2012
It's been about a week and a half since I last wrote a blog, so obviously there's been some major things happening here.  Let me try to recap...
Last week the PCT's and their mae's had a cultural cooking exchange.  My language group and I cooked an American meal for our mae's, and our mae's cooked a traditional Mozambican dish for us (not that we haven't been eating traditional Mozambican food for weeks, but still).  My language group decided to make burritos, because it seemed like the easiest/most  practical thing we could make.  What I didn't realize when I got here was how difficult it would be to cook here.  There are no boxes in a grocery store that you just add water to and have an immediate meal.  If you want to eat well, you have to put time into  it.  We started cooking at 7:30 am to have lunch ready by 12. Freaking nuts.  Anyway, our mae's went to the market and bought us everything on our list of ingredients that they could find.  We had homemade tortillas (we used the wrong type of flour, so they kind of fell apart), chicken, beans, onions, rice, tomatoes, piri piri (hot sauce here...clearly I didn't partake), and probably a few other things I can't remember.  I don't know if you guys have thought of this, but chicken doesn't come in a bag here like we're used to in the states.  If you want to have chicken, you go to the market and buy a live chicken.  Then it's up to you to bring it home, kill it, defeather it, and cook it.
My first experience with this was the day that we cooked with our mae's.  At about 9 am, they brought out two live chickens.  The chickens didn't run, they just sat in the yard waiting for their imminent death.  Everyone asked me if I wanted to be the one to kill the chicken, and I just responded with, "NO! I'm going to cry!" So everyone laughed at me, but I was serious.  Tears didn't come, but they were close.  My friend Ryan did actually decide to kill one, though.  So you have to put a foot on top of the chicken's body/wings and literally saw at its neck until you cut it off or just leave it dangling  from the body.  And then the chicken will like bounce around for a little bit until it actually dies.  Pretty sick nasty.  Anyway, then you take the feathers off by dipping the body into boiling water and scraping them off.  They actually come off pretty easily.  Then of course you have to cut open the chicken and take out the insides.  I didn't get a close up visual of that part when I cooked with the mae's, but two days later I could say that I'd witnessed that up close and personal as well.  Then the chicken is cut up and put in this little grate-type thingy that you put on top of a charcoal stove.  You keep flipping the grate until all of the chicken is well-done.
By the time we were eating lunch, I had kind of forgotten about the whole killing process because it was such a long morning.  I didn't even feel bad when I was eating it, so I guess I don't have to be a vegetarian or anything crazy.  Two days later my family killed two  more chickens to have for the next couple of weeks for meals.  They also asked me if i wanted to kill one of them, but I declined.  I will probably end up doing it by the end of PST, just for the experience of it.  The Anna that got here 4 weeks ago would be disgusted with me, but when in Mozambique I have to do as the Mozambicans do.
In other news, my Portuguese is improving every day.  I can finally have conversations with members of my family that don't involve long, awkward pauses and other equally embarrassing situations.  Using the correct tenses is a problem, but I have a basis of verbs and vocabulary that I can definitely work with.  I still confuse Spanish and Portuguese at times, but I'm doing the best I can and my improvement in the past month has been pretty incredible.  Today I gave my first mini-lesson in Portuguese about the slope of linear functions, and I actually thought it went decently well.  I didn't stumble too much with my speech, so I actually think this whole teaching in Portuguese thing is possible.   It might be far-off still, but I know that eventually it will come.
At the end of next week, all of us PCT's get to go on site visits and stay with currently serving volunteers for 5-6 days.  I am so excited to see where I'll be going  and see a real site; to see what my life might look like in a month and a half.  We find out our actual site placement in week 7, and right now it's week 4, so I have about 3 weeks until I find out.  So that's super exciting.
Hmm...what else?  Having whatsapp has been great to communicate with my family and friends back at home.  Also, I now have email access, so feel free to email me if you have questions/comments/anything to say (brandt.169@gmail.com).  I haven't been able to get any pictures on here yet because the computer that I have to use to post blogs is like from the 1990's.  It has a slot for a floppy disk, no joke.  So that doesn't work very well, but my mom posted some pictures on my facebook  wall so you can look at those to see my house and other things I think have been picture-worthy here in Moz.  If you want any specific pictures, let me know and I can try to take some.
That's all for now! :)

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