Monday, April 14, 2014

4/13/2014: Not a City Mouse

I am very much a country mouse, the city (particularly a crowded city like Maputo) really stresses me out and although I live close, I always put off coming to this city. However, I recently decided to start a REDES group in my village…
REDES: Rapariga em Desenvolvimento Educação e Saúde. Ok... so I know for many of you, that means nothing. So really REDES is about developing confidence, health knowledge, and education. We work with girls in our villages to help them develop skills, confidence, independence, and income generation activities. So anyone who knows me could guess I latched on to this idea.
So here I am after venturing into the city for our REDES Training of Trainers. It is technically for our local counterparts—the women we run our groups with—but as this is a new idea in my life and I don’t have one of those, here I am getting information to take back to my village.
I spent the entire day Thursday trying to talk myself out of coming. Why? I don’t know. But I wanted nothing to do with leaving my village. Thankfully my roommate and my friend Jules both talked me into sticking to my commitment to come. What an education! Spending the weekend here has made me even more excited to start my REDES group, seeing the women empowerment in this room and knowing how important it is to take this back to my girls and be a mentor to them, be available to them to talk about things their mothers won’t talk about—HIV, college, jobs, periods, relationships—I can just feel we’re embarking on a very exciting and important mission.
That’s part of my weekend. But wait—there’s more. In true American fashion, we made important “political” leadership decisions while skipping a training session to take a moment for some coffee outside and taking a breather. And that was when I became the “assistant” Southern Coordinator for REDES. It’s not really a position in REDES leadership, but this way the Southern Coordinator isn’t working alone and I can be trained in the job before she leaves Mozambique. I thought…“well hey…we need a coordinator when she leaves and we definitely need more volunteer involvement, so why the heck not.” At least for the beginning I won’t be by myself.
So off we go on this journey. And that’s the only update I have about that.

In other news, I have a friend from middle/high school who lives in Maputo (some of you may remember that but just in case that was your reminder). So whenever I have time in Maputo I try to see him and catch up. This time was extremely special. He had gotten crabs from a local fisher and called me saying “we should make Maryland crabs, are you free?” …Am I free for steamed crabs with Old Bay instead of uber boiled with a bunch a sauce (why everyone outside Maryland insists on things like tomato sauce or something is beyond me) … DUH I’M FREE! So I got to catch up with my friend, have a Maryland style feast of beer and crabs with Old Bay, AND introduce my friend Lauren Maryland style crabs, thankfully she loved them! Guess our friendship can continue.
On our way to my friend’s apartment, I had the strangest conversation…I mean I have these conversations more often that I wish.
Me: “Onde esta Woolworths?”
Stranger: “Eu nao entendo Ingles”
Me: “<<Onde esta>> e Portugues, nao Ingles”
Stranger: “Oh. Tchau”
…So not only was my question not answered, they just assumed I don’t speak Portuguese. In this village, this conclusion makes sense, but there are an awful lot of non-Mozambicans in the city who speak Portuguese, it’s never really a safe assumption that the person you are speaking to doesn’t speak Portuguese and I was a bit insulted.
But whatever, we found Woolworths and thus found a place to get ice cream and a drink and also my friend’s apartment and we got some delicious dinner.

Side note. Everyone should experience the joy of explaining to young teenagers in Portuguese what laxatives are. We were talking about different important bases and what they are used for and one of the examples from my textbook was “laxatives” and I got the strangest looks…”Professora?? Que e isso??” and off I go trying to explain what a laxative is and who would use it and why…I think the majority of my students fell out of their chairs laughing so hard at me, laxatives, the situation, my explanation…I’m not sure what it was but it probably one of the funniest, most amazing experiences of my teaching here so far.

Now I’m ready to return to my simple village life and my kitten.

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