Saturday, November 2, 2013

10/31/2013: Dia da Bruxas

It seems only fitting that the weirdest day in Africa thus far has landed on Halloween, known here as Dia da Bruxas. While talking to my best friend at home I realized it is quite hard for me to fully capture the feeling of today in words—I think a lot of it has to do with our mindsets and the stress we are under. But I am going to attempt to share my odd day with those of you at home, if only because I want to get the story out.
A quick back story, in my house right now is my host mom, my host brother, and my host sister. I’ve introduced them in previous posts. But obviously my brother and sister have a father (if you didn’t know that, I am a biology teacher and can give you a lesson) and their father is in fact my mom’s husband. He lives in South Africa building houses. It is quite common for fathers to be gone the majority of the year working else making money, often while starting other families. As a result the mothers sometimes have a boyfriend or something in their village. The idea of not having a partner for more than a week is inconceivable to many here in Mozambique (so that’s always a fun education about how just because I’ve left America for 2 years does not mean I need a Mozambican man).

Back to today.
It all started last night really. A massive…a dare say minor tropical depression…graced Namaacha with it’s presence. Let me tell you how fun tornado speed winds and golf ball sized hail Is when you have a flimsy tin rood…and I definitely spent a good hour cleaning mortar off all of my stuff and out of my room…my walls literally crumbled around me. It was an INTENSE storm that we all immediately reported on our Facebooks and wallowed together today over the lack of sleep it caused and the day without energy that followed. It was the most intense storm so far and scared even those of us who have lived with the likes of hurricanes and tornadoes in our lives. So we were all in a pretty weird mood today to begin with…it’s Halloween, we’re having a Halloween party tomorrow, no one slept, and we’re leaving on Sunday for our week long site visits with current volunteers—energy and excitement was high making school almost impossible for all of us. Following school, my lingua group and I decided to take our usual trip to our mini America—Total Gas Station. It’s close to where the Bio teachers live and offers Lays potato chips, Simba chips (not American…but close to it!), ice cream, Cadbury chocolate, and Cocoa-Cola Light (their version of Diet Coke, which, after a week without Diet Coke was just fine for me). When we arrived we could tell that one of the customers was a little off but we couldn’t tell exactly was going on. Well…our Portuguese is good enough that we figured out after about 10 minutes they were fighting with the clerk who didn’t want them to sell drugs behind the gas station and they were calling the police. There was a lot of screaming and a lot of accusations, so naturally, we left. Really bummed that we didn’t get our American snacks and weirded out that  that there was drug fight in little Namaacha. We went for our plan B. Xavier’s is our favorite bar and James, the son of Xavier serves delicious samosas (even I think they’re delicious and I’ve sworn off of Indian food). We entered and James knew immediately what we were looking for and broke the sad news that he had no samosas. This seems like a minor problem…which is why I said some of this may just be our mindsets…it was a BIG DEAL. So we go to plan C…pão with soy chicken nuggets (yes, they have those here) stuff inside. On our way we run into a Japanese lady we’ve seen wandering around Namaacha. Turns out she is a teacher volunteering for the Japan version of Peace Corps…who knew that existed!! So we were able to communicate with someone who speaks Japanese, not English, because we all speak Portuguese, which sounds less cool than it really is. It’s different than talking to someone from Namaacha who, DUH, knows Portuguese, or talking to current volunteers who also speak English. It was way cool. Well…plan C was a bust. There was no pão near us…so weird because there’s ALWAYS pão. So we gave up and returned to our houses. My house was still energyless, so I was bracing myself for a night of accomplishing nothing. Halfway through dinner, energy returned to Barrio B. Here, it’s monumentous when energy comes back. You can’t escape the cheers of excitement. Almost simultaneously, our door opens and this man with a suitcase walks in. Turns out it’s my pai??? No one knew he was returning to Namaacha this evening and my host mom has spent the rest of the evening shooting me hilarious faces. I’ve tried to pick up what I can with my Portuguese, but she is talking mostly in Changana, if at all because he’s here so she doesn’t really want to announce she’s not pleased at this addition to our house. But her faces say it all, and it is hilarious. I think she and I have bonded a little in communicating only with facial expressions.
So that’s my weird day. Maybe it is just weird to those of us here in Africa, but I felt like sharing what an atypical day in Africa is like. I hope I did the story well and was a least a little entertaining. If it wasn’t entertaining, try to put yourself in my shoes and imagine what today felt like. It was weird.
Before I head out, I will update you on my site visit. So a site visit is designed for us to get an idea of what the next 2 years will be like, outside of our little training summer camp in Namaacha. I am visiting a volunteer in Gaza, which is just north of the Maputo Province (I’m sorry. If you want to understand exactly where Gaza is, I’m going to ask you to do what my Geography teacher would always say…get a map). All I know so far is that I will likely get to visit a beach. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say about it next Friday when I return.

Now I must bid this day ado. It has been much too strange for me. And tomorrow I have a language oral exam and I would like to prove that I do in fact know some Portuguese. I certainly cannot wait for the day when I’m fluent enough that I accidentally forget to switch out of Portuguese to English or forget simple English words. I know that day will come, it has been promised the science teachers that it just happens naturally because we literally cannot use any English in our classrooms.

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