May 24, 2014

Another Traveling Adventure

Traveling in Mozambique is no easy feat, especially going long distances. Because of a JUNTOS conference held in northern Mozambique earlier this month, I had a great excuse (and a plane ticket!) to go up and explore a few places I thought I'd never make it to.  

But let's start at the beginning of my traveling adventure with my friend, Taylor.  

As soon as we left the Peace Corps office and started heading to get some egg sandies before hitchhiking to Beira, where we'd catch our flight to Nampula the next day, the most unexpected thing happened.  As we were walking down Chimoio's main street, we saw a homeless man crossing the street and approaching us.  This is nothing too out of the ordinary, they normally ask us white folk for money, or just stand holding their hands out to us with a sad look on their face.  So I was completely unexpecting when the man walks up and without rhyme or reason punches me in the face.  Taylor and I stood looking at each other dumbfoundedly as the man slowly jogs off across the street again, acting like nothing had happened.  It took me about five minutes to wrap the mind around the fact that I had been punched in the face, and yet not even deserved it.  Now it's a really good (and still semi-unfortunate) story, but when I find myself thinking about it I'm still just like...umm what?  So that's how the adventure to the north started out, but luckily it only got better along the way.

The rest of the trip to Beira was uneventful (luckily!). The next day, we flew to Nampula, and before I knew it I was reunited with Maggie, one of my best friends from training.  We traveled together with another good friend from training, Stephen, to Ilha de Moçambique to spend the weekend exploring the beautiful old Portuguese island and ex-capital of Mozambique.  

Ilha was absolutely beautiful.  We walked around the island, explored the over 500 year old Portuguese fort, and caught up after 4 months of not seeing each other.  The fort was absolutely awesome, but we did have a little incident with bats in the church at the center of the fort. (Gross!) 

Hanging out on an old cannon inside of the fort!

On the roof of the fort!

Maggie and I on the altar in the old church.

Our group shot in the church, right before the bat incident. EEK!

Another picture in the fort, the old church on the left side
 in the background.

After a short stay in Ilha, Maggie headed back to her site as Stephen and I continued on to meet up with some other friends in Meconta, one of our fellow PCV's sites.  We stayed the night in Meconta, catching up with other 19ers and eating delicious food (Thanks Jamie and Nick!), and left early the following morning to quickly head into Nampula city and later travel to the northern-most province in Mozambique, Cabo Delgado.

After a long day of traveling, the five of us traveling together finally made it to Pemba around 6 pm.  We met up with another fellow volunteer who showed us the way to where we'd be staying for the following 3 nights.  The place was awesome, complete with a pool, and a large TV that played BBC news every morning so we got caught up on what was happening in the world!  

In Pemba, we walked around a lot and explored the city, the market (where they sold fried calamari and shrimp -- of course they were out of shrimp while we were there -- for lunch for super cheap!), and the beach!  Pemba is an incredible city: extremely beautiful, extremely fun, yet extremely expensive. So after 2 days in Pemba, we were broke and headed back down to Ilha for beer olympics!

Beer Olympics are usually a country-wide annual event, but because of the political tension in Sofala province and the travel ban between the northern and southern parts of Mozambique, it was made a regional event this year.  Conveniently enough, our conference was scheduled for the day after Beer Olympics, so there were representatives from almost every province present.  There were 4 teams competing, and I was part of "The Others",  the mismatched people that came from lots of different places to join the competition. I didn't compete in any drinking events (because everyone is wayyyy too intense and would make me super nervous) but I was a great cheerleader!  Most importantly, I got to meet a lot of the newer PCVs and say goodbye to a few that will be leaving here soon.  And I got to be reunited with Maggie and Hannah, my training besties!

Maggie, Hannah, and I repping our teams in our different shirts.

Moz 19ers at the Norte Forte Beer Olympics 2014!

Lisa and Helen!  They are fellow central PCVs and keep my sanity!

The morning after Beer Olympics, everyone involved in JUNTOS left super early to head to our conference, the real reason why most of us were up in the north.  We spent two days with the new JUNTOS leadership team, talking about the JUNTOS program, where we see it going, and handing over our responsibilities to the new kids in charge.  This year was also the first year to have Mozambican counterparts involved in the handover conference, so that was a great accomplishment for our leadership team.  From central Mozambique, we brought an awesome counterpart that has done AMAZING things with his JUNTOS groups in Gorongosa, Sofala.  I am confident in this new group of JUNTOS leadership, and am so excited to hear about all of the wonderful growth JUNTOS will experience because of them!

The central JUNTOS representatives!

After our conference, we flew back to Beira, took a bus back to Chimoio, and eventually about two weeks after leaving, I made it back to Messica.  I was so relieved to be home...and then I had to go to school.

We are now in our second trimester of the year, but the material is getting harder, and the workload isn't getting any lighter.  Recently I've had students coming to my house every morning.  As soon as one student leaves another comes.  I've had no break, and I've been explaining the same problems over and over again.  These aren't my students, they are my colleague's students, and he's giving them work that is wayyyyy too hard for them.  There's not much I can do to help them when they can't do simple math such as plotting a point on a graph or subtracting fractions when they're in 12th grade. Frustrations like these won't go away, but I am going to start to limit my time tutoring students to 1 hour a day, because otherwise I have no time to myself and no time to do anything besides tutor them.  Also after a frustrating morning of tutoring, I have to go to a frustrating day of teaching, and that's too much frustration for me to handle with a positive attitude.  I'm hoping that limiting tutor time will help my mood and be a good compromise.

In other news, we have received our first email about close of service (COS).  COS is a process that lasts over a month, because not everyone can leave the country at the same time.  COS week includes lots of appointments, and logistically over 50 people COSing at the same time would just never work.  The first week Moz 19 will be COSing is the first week of November, and the last week is the 2nd week of December.  We are supposed to find out our individual dates towards the end of June, so soon I will know when I will be America bound!

I'm sure with everything going on in the next few months, November will be here in no time!