December 31, 2012

Finally some pictures!

I thought it would be nice to put some pictures up for the facebookless to see.  I hope everyone has a great New Year!

Also, you all get to read this blog to get updates from me about my life here in Mozambique, but I don't know what's going on in most of your lives.  So you should email me and summarize the goings on of the past few months in America. :) (My email is listed under the 'Contact Me' section of this blog.)

After officially swearing in as Peace Corps Volunteers in Mozambique.  These are my two closest friends in Mozambique, Maggie (on the left) and Hannah (on the right).  They are wonderful, but both super far away from me. :(

The Catholic church in Messica.

My adorable neighbors.
Messica! Beautiful views. :)

One of our markets in Messica.

Manica Bread. :)
The town of Messica!
Example of a fully stocked stand in the market.  This is taken at the other market in Messica.

Some random guys at the market that wanted their picture taken.
Also,  this stand is where Sarah and I normally buy  our rice. :)

Messica is on a map! So exciting!

December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!  Since my last post, things have been a little bit crazy.  As I wrote at the end of my last post, there were 15 of us staying in a three bedroom, one bathroom house for 4 days to spend Christmas together in Chimoio.  Everyone left this morning to go back to their respective sites, and I'm just staying in Chimoio a bit longer to milk the free wireless internet in the Peace Corps office for all it's worth.  :)

So in my last post I wrote about half of my trip to the clinic.  After my post, however, things got a little crazy.    I went back to the clinic and the doctor told me that the blood tests were all negative (I think they were checking for infection), so he gave me a prescription for some pain medication that I had to go pick up at the pharmacy.  Ofelio took me to the pharmacy, and got the medicine for me, but when I looked at the medicine, they were in glass vials that were completely enclosed.  I asked Ofelio what the medicine was and how it is administered, but he said that he didn't know and that I had to go back to the clinic and ask.  Upon returning to the clinic, I was informed that the vials were actually injections that I had to return to the clinic daily (for the next 9 days) to have administered.  Icing on the cake: the injections have to be in the ass.   So that was lovely.  Merry Christmas to me.

I went back to Messica on Friday afternoon, and returned to Chimoio bright and early on Saturday for my second injection. I have been in Chimoio ever since Saturday, and will be going back to Messica today (they will administer my last shot at the clinic in Messica).  So the guys at the clinic know me now, and when I walk in they just follow me to the room,  give me the shot, and I'm on my way.

Everyone else started arriving for Christmas on Saturday as well, and by Monday all 15 of us were in Chimoio. On Christmas day I went to mass with a couple other PCVs.  The service was great, but also incredibly long and HOT.  We didn't realize that it would be held outside, so I lacked to bring a bottle of water or put on sunscreen.  Whoops.  Also, there were about 50 baptisms, which added approximately an hour to the length of mass.  It was a little rough.  But it was also really cool.  Throughout the mass whenever I thought about how miserably hot I was, I remembered how awesome it is that I'm able to have this experience.  Also, there was a huge line of offerings and it was truly humbling to see people who don't have much give what they do have to Jesus.  :) Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Anyway, Christmas was very much different than what I am used to, but I had a great time with everyone here.  It was just super strange to Skype everyone while they were together and feel so removed.  It sounds like everyone in Ohio had a white Christmas, while I have been sweating over here like it's my job.

For New Years, Sarah and I are going to stay in Messica and try to find a family to take us in. It should be fun. :)

Hopefully I'll find out what grade I'll be teaching and be able to start lesson planning soon.  Sarah and I are going to help make the teacher's schedule next week, so I should also know my school schedule soon.  School starts in mid-January, so until then I'll be hanging out, reading some books, and washing laundry by hand.  Sounds like fun, right?

December 21, 2012

My first solo adventure

Right now I am sitting in the air conditioned Peace Corps office in Chimoio.  That has a toilet that flushes.  Man, I am feeling spoiled today.  Anyway, I am here in Chimoio because I had an appointment this morning at the clinic to check out some back pain I've been having the past couple of days. Of course, I know that this back pain is probably never going to go away, but it was getting hard to breathe there for awhile, so I figured it would be best to get it checked out.

So this morning I made the trip into Chimoio from Messica.  Alone.  On a chapa full of Mozambicans.  When I got to the chapa stop in Messica at 7:00 this morning, there was an almost packed chapa waiting to head out to Chimoio.  I got the seat right by the door (with a window), so I thought it was a pretty good location.  Boy, was I wrong.  Turns out that whenever anyone had to get out, I had to move.  Also, whenever they wanted to cram a couple more people in, I was the one that had my little leg room robbed from me.  Whenever I thought there was no possible way that anyone else could fit in the chapa, I was proven wrong.  It was quite incredible, really.  Like I've been telling everyone I have talked to on Skype, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.  And when it comes to transportation in America verses transportation in Mozambique, whoa is that the truth.

Anyway, so after about 45 minutes in the chapa, when I was stopping to let the guy next to me out, I realized that the exact place where we were was about a 2 minute walk from the Peace Corps office.  So that worked out well!  Then I proceded to waste time on Facebook and such when I was waiting for PC staff member, Ofelio, to take me to the clinic. 

Upon arriving at the clinic, I realized that Ofelio definitely wasn't going to be translating for I had to figure out how to say everything I wanted to in Portuguese.  So that was a fun realization.  They took me back to get my weight and I promptly heard "Oh, you weigh a lot," which is always super awesome to be told.  They took my blood pressure, and then I waited to see the doctor.  The doctor ordered some x-rays and a blood test, and I was there for approximately 2 hours to have all of that done.  I was pretty proud of myself for communicating everything correctly (mais ou menos) and the doctor couldn't believe that I was 21 years old, from America, and living in Mozambique.  He told me I am very courageous. :)

Anyway, I got my x-rays back and the doctor told me he sees where the problem is, but I am still waiting for the results from the blood tests.  I have to go back to the clinic in about 20 minutes to see if they've drawn any conclusions.  I don't know what the outcome is going to be, but today's been quite the adventure already and it's only noon.

Also, super exciting news!  Almost all of the central Moz 19 volunteers are meeting in Chimoio for Christmas, so I'll be able to see everyone and hear how their sites are! I am so excited.

It doesn't feel much like Christmas here, but hopefully once everyone gathers in Chimoio it will feel a little more Christmasy.  Everyone eat some Christmas cookies and drink some apple cider/Starbucks for me...

December 16, 2012

Some Sounds of Mozambique

  • Freaking goats. All the time. They are loud and obnoxious and EVERYWHERE. Currently our neighbors have a goat that they tie to the tree that is between our front doors. The goat likes to go under our gate and sit in our yard and makes the LOUDEST noises. It also conveniently likes to make the most noise at 5 am. Lovely. I've been told that the goat will only be around until Christmas, when it will be killed and eaten for Christmas dinner. I promptly told my neighbors that I want to help kill it. Never thought I'd say that about a living thing, but that goat just gets under my skin.
  • Roosters. Almost as bad as the goats. They don't just make ridiculous amounts of noise in the morning, it is non-stop. And our fence does not keep them out of our yard, so conveniently enough they can make lots of noise from right outside my window. Excellent.
  • Blasting music. Mozambicans like their music, and they also like blaring it. Most of it is American music, and they probably don't realize that swear words are flying all over the place in the songs.
  • Children. Either crying, screaming, or playing.
  • Howling dogs. These were much more common in Namaacha. They would howl at 10 o'clock at night for at least an hour. It was lovely.
  • Rats/Bats. This is an occurrence in my new house. At night there is a crazy squeaking noise that comes from the ceiling, so I'm assuming it's either rats or bats and I have absolutely no idea what to do about it. I am terrified that they come into my room, so I just hide in my bed with my mosquito net tucked in and pretend not to hear it.
  • Flies. Buzzing around your head, in your ears, landing all over your body. It's especially bad right now because it's mango season. And though I absolutely love mangoes, I absolutely hate the flies.
  • Singing. Lots of times there will be church choirs that you can hear at like 10 at night, which is quite beautiful. There are also lots of people that just sing to themselves as they walk. I like it. :)

December 13, 2012

Chegamos em Messica!

Well this blog post is extremely delayed so I apologize for that, but as you can imagine life has been pretty crazy recently.  Since I've last written a blog post, I have left Namaacha and my wonderful host family, traveled to Maputo and officially swore-in  to the Peace Corps, said goodbye to my closest friends that were placed in the north, flew to Chimoio, met the pedagogical director of my school and had a two day conference with him, was driven to Messica with my roommate, moved into my new house, and am currently securing my house with window locks, new door locks, etc.  Pretty crazy stuff.  So I'm going to try to start from where I left off-ish, and I'll quickly recap what's been going on.

Leaving Namaacha.  What a weird situation.  All of our bags had been picked up prior to us leaving, so last Tuesday morning when I woke up I only had my backpack to bring with me on the chapa.  It was really strange because I felt like I was leaving the house for class.  And Walmer is the cutest ever, so  you can probably imagine how hard it was to leave him.  He was crying as I left, and my family said it was because I was leaving, but I'm pretty sure he was just hungry or something.  Anyway, leaving itself was pretty anti-climactic, I just said goodbye and left.  They don't so much do the hug thing in Mozambique, which was kind of strange for me.  Also, both Didinha and Nucha were taking Chemistry national exams on Tuesday, so they were a little sidetracked by studying and such.

The Peace Corps picked the math people up close to my house, and we headed to Maputo for swearing-in.   There was a lot of traffic going into Maputo, so we ended up arriving  late to our own ceremony.  Swearing-in was held at the U.S. Ambassador's house.  All of the PCT's wore at least one  piece of clothing made out of the same capulana, so we all matched (as you will be able to see when I am able to post pictures).  The ceremony included speeches by the PC Country Director for Mozambique, the U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique, one of my fellow trainees,  and a representative from Mozambique's Ministry of Education.   There were a bunch of fellow PCVs (most of them were closing their two years of service in Mozambique) and RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) in attendance.  After the ceremony, we had a small reception, and then were taken to our hotels for the night.

We were separated by region into three different hotels in Maputo, so I was in the central hotel called Villa das Mangas. It was super fancy, and I was really excited to take a shower.  With running water.  Ohhh yeahhh.  After dinner that night, everyone met at a small bar to hang out one last time together.  After a crazy night, there was a sad goodbye with all of the people staying in the southern part of Mozambique for service.  A  large majority of our group is in the northern part of Mozambique, and there are 19 of us in central Mozambique.  I didn't have to say goodbye to the people going to the north until the next day at the airport.
I was freaking out at the airport because my bags were overweight and I was still waiting to get my boarding pass 20 minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave.  When I made it through security, I had to say goodbye to my closest friends in Mozambique.  So that was less than enjoyable.  Luckily, my flight left 45 minutes late, so we had more time to hang out in the airport.  Eventually the time came that we had to board our flight.  A bus took us from the gate to the plane.  The plane probably had about 13 rows of seats, 2 on one side of the aisle, and 1 on the other.  The propellers were right outside my window (of course), so by the end of the flight my ears were basically bleeding.  It was an enjoyable 2 hour flight.

When we arrived in Chimoio, we got our bags and headed to the hotel.  After check in, we had a quick meeting,  then had the day to explore Chimoio.  I had some issues with my bank card, so I had to go to the bank and try to  get those resolved (two days later, they were), and then I went to get something  to eat.  I ordered a greek salad at a restaurant and  an hour later they came out to tell me that they didn't have the greek salad.  Umm...really?  Not cool.  Anyway, long story short, I didn't get to eat anything.  So I bought some bread that Namaacha bread would put to shame, and walked the 40 minutes back to the hotel.

The next day, our Supervisor's Conference started, where a representative from our school came into Chimoio to learn about the Peace Corps and how he could help us integrate into the communities.  The pedagogical director for  11th and 12th grade from the Secondary School of Messica came as our representative, and he was a super nice guy.  We got to ask him a little bit about Messica and the school. He told me that I will able to teach math, so that was really exciting news.  We also got to talk to the Peace Corps housing coordinater who told us that our house had three bedrooms, running water, and electricity. :)

While we were in Chimoio, my roommate Sarah and I bought mattresses for our beds, pots, pans, basins for cleaning, an oven/stove combo, an electric kettle, etc.  Basically, just things we knew that we would need because we were opening a new site in a city that has never had a volunteer.

So after Supervisor's Conference, it came time to leave Chimoio and head to Messica.  Sarah and I packed up the Peace Corps vehicle that was taking us, and headed west from Chimoio toward Messica.  (By the way, Messica is pronounced with the emphasis on the i, not on the doesn't rhyme with Jessica...)  After about 45 minutes, we arrived at our house and quickly unpacked everything.  The Peace Corps left, and all of a sudden we were alone in Mozambique.

After cleaning the whole house, we unpacked a little, and headed to the market to get some food and also to find our way around.  Messica is such a cute little town.  It has two markets that are relatively large, and I can get most things here.  If I want specialty items, I might have to make a trip into Chimoio or Manica.  Manica is a city on the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe and it is only a 30 minute chapa ride away.  Chimoio is a little farther, but it is also bigger.  Regardless, if I ever need/want anything I am within an hour from access to it.

That first day,  a carpenter came to fix the locks on our metal grates on our doors to make sure that we could shut and lock them.  He ended up having to come back the following day to finish the work because he didn't have the right tools to fix it.  The next day when he came back, he brought his brother, Inoque, with him.  Inoque has turned out to be a great resource to Sarah and I.  He helped us find someone to fix our window locks and get some screens put in our windows, and he bought new glass for the windows in my room that are currently cracked.  He took us to Manica today to show us around so that we can go whenever we want and be comfortable in the city.  He also said that tomorrow he's going to have us over to his house to meet his family, and he's offered his fridge to us to use whenever we need to keep things cold.

I also ventured to church on Sunday, which was an interesting experience.  I left really early, because I had been told at least 4 different times that church started, and I also had no idea where it was.  In Mozambique, people just know where things are, so they have no concept of giving directions.  They just point in a direction and  say "la"  which is helpful about 10 percent of the time.  After finding the church, I was told it started at 8 and it was 7:20.  The church wasn't even unlocked.  I waited for the church to be unlocked, and at about 7:30 I went in.  The church was a lot different than Namaacha's.  There were no pews, more like benches with no backs and no kneelers.  Also, when I went into the church, I sat down and started reading my bible.  Everyone else that came in knelt down to pray and when they finished, they left the church again.  I was sitting alone for the church for an absurdly long time.  It was really strange.  At about 8:45, people started to come into the church and started singing.  I was really confused again because when mass started, there was no priest.  I thought he was just running late, but it turns out that they can only have an actual mass every once in a while when they have a priest.  The rest of the time, they have a celebration which just includes the liturgy of the word and sign of peace.  I found this really interesting.  After mass, they made me introduce myself in front of the whole church (how embarrassing).  Then when I was walking out, the only other white person in the whole church came up and started to talk to me.  It turns out that he's Portuguese, but has lived in Mozambique for the past 50 years.  He was a really interesting person to talk to.  I also met some of my neighbors that morning at church and walked home with them.  They showed me the shortcuts to my house. :)

Overall, I feel like I will really like it here.  Most of the people I've encountered are very friendly.  I know that my Portuguese has already improved in being here and away from all of the English speaking PCVs.  I am excited to continue to explore and meet new people here.  Also I'm excited to learn to cook!  I really have no alternative considering  there are no microwavable meals here.

I have a new address now that I posted on the Contact Me link at the top of the page.  Beware that I have currently only gotten one package and one letter from the states.  The mail here is slower than the slowest thing you could possibly think of.  So that's frustrating, but it's just one more test of my patience.

Our House! (and my roommate, Sarah!)