Mozambique Letter #3
Ok...Hope you all got the photo links below available on my facebook page. All taken during Oct. -Dec. in Pre Service Training, time spent with my fantastic host family.
Since then, my camera and laptop have died. Sorry, but little I can do.
Well, what news, recollections, word play might I shoot out at this late hour?
Recollections from the month behind me.
1. Finally spent a weekend at the dormitory. They eat corn meal polenta with beans everyday. I asked one of my students as we passed - ¨rice and beans for dinner it seems!¨ His response: (in perfect English) "Everyday the same fucking thing!" It was tolerable for one meal. I can~t imagine it for lunch and dinner everyday of the week. Until this past week, they~ve been eating in the dark with no light bulbs for the cafeteria. At least the stars are pretty. On the upshot, they really appreciated my staying there. I headed with them in the morning out to the matu to chop wood and carry back. On Friday nights they play music and dance in the courtyard until it~s 9pm curfew and lights out. They~re very good dancers, cheering each other on.
2. Had a great time sharing games with the kids. They~re doing a talent show every Sunday now - which is essentially glorified Karioke, but you can~t hear their voices over the soundtrack. But, they dance and everyone cheers them on as they bustamove. People come up and put money in their pockets or fling packeted condoms at them that they got for free from the hospital. I heard about football players using condoms to hold their socks up. Rest assured. Mozambicans have access to condoms. Afterwards, I~m leading games - like hoops on bottles, frisbees at targets, knock the cans and limbo. The kids would answer a true or false question about AIDS and get to play. If successful, a candy their prize. Even something small and symbolic like this means a lot to them. These kids are very ready for a good time. Really, Mozambicans in general don~t get angry, and if they do, they~re always one break away from a laugh.
3. This past week was an all around success. I had one day that left me feeling like super volunteer. Up at 5 am to jog for 30 min. Home to sweep and mop out the dust. Pushups. Jumping rope. Meditation. To the garden to attack the enormous termite mound. Inside combs, like in a hive. I saved them. People asked - what for? I shrugged my shoulders - I don~t know! But they~re very cool. I had an audience as I whacked away at this five foot thing. Really, you don~t need to do much to attract an audience here. Later that day I got my peanuts (plentiful here) and sought out a neighbor with mortar and pestle. For 45 minutes worked at pilaring peanut flour. This requires sifting too. I am the integration king. And yes. It~s women~s work.~ Why don~t you get a woman to do that stuff for you? my neighbor asks? But, I did not come here to have servants. With no dependents, no maid, no money spent on beer, and little travel, my costs are low and I am left feeling in this poor community quite wealthy. I am going to try and start eating at the dormitory more and putting my money back into the school. With the kids I feel integrated; appreciated. The teachers have their own lives and duties. In the teachers community I can spend the whole day in my house, quite isolated. A visit can be bothersome. But, with the kids, I feel like I~m where I should be. We~ll see where this goes, but it~s already showing promise in my burgeoning relationships with my students.
4. Great classes. Getting my mojo back. In Romania in front of kindergarten classroom audiences I was a circus ringmaster, clown, and acrobat rolled into one English Teaching Machine. The children laughed. Applauded. I gave them stickers and candy and they loved me for it. On the streets, riding my bicycle they would call out, kids throughout many neighborhoods. Now I teach 20 year olds. Classes of 64/69. You can understand if I~ve lost some of my tap dancing confidence. Now that I know many of their names and can call them out when they~re running their yap when I~m trying to talk, I~ve regained some of that composure. I~m more cocksure. I can kid now that I can scold (effectively). Outside of class I~m having fun conversations with the high achievers and now, some of the lower achievers too. I~m beginning to reach more and more and it takes time.
5. Food. No cheese, but coconut milk and papayas and peanuts galore. Everything is awesome with coconut milk in it. You grate the thing then pour warm water over the gratings and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. Sooo good. Use it to cook in whatever. It~s good on wood shavings. Trust me. This past two weeks made tomato peanut curry with coconut milk and another night pasta with spicy peanut and garlic sauce. Mmm. Food. 11 year old Frisbee playing savant, Nandu who despite being the Superintendant~s son goes most nights without dinner, has learned if he hangs out long enough at my place, I~ll feed him. My revenge is I~ll teach the kid Englishuwhile I cook and maybe send him on an errand here and there. Good kid, that Nandu. And just nasty on the frisbee field. The kid doesn~t talk much, preferring pantomime when possible, but get him on the frisbee field and the kid~s all business taking on others twice his height and leaving them in the dust. Seriously. He~s better then me.
So. That~s the large and small of it.
Other anecdotes to come as they occur and internet access makes itself available.
So close this 140 am mass email. And off I to sleep.
Night all. Goodnight Jesse.