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!)


  1. I love that you had to introduce yourself in front of the whole church. That made me laugh out loud...thinking about how annoyed you'd be...

  2. Anna:

    As I said to you on the phone when we spoke - I love reading your blog because you sound just the same in person as you do in your words. I had several laugh out loud moments reading this particular post because, as Kristy similarly commented, I can just picture your annoyed expression. I am so glad to hear that you are finding your way in Africa of all places. Even though we are so connected via text message and the internet, it still seems light years away from here. You should know that every time Kristen and I speak of you being in Africa serving with the Peace Corps there is always a tone of pride in our voices. It is so neat to be able to say to someone, "well, MY sister-in-law Anna is currently teaching math in AFRICA! (aside: what does YOUR sister-in-law do that is even half as interesting?)" We love seeing the pictures as well. Africa is definitely not America. TV shows do a good job of portraying every ounce of suffering that goes on over there. What they tend to leave out is anything good that exists. If it wasn't for people like you that do what you are doing and give us reports about people being able to do something like learn math, we would think of Africa as only a desolate continent filled with NOTHING but starving and disease ravaged people. The dichotomy between have and have-not exists there as it does all over the world.