Friday, June 24, 2011

Mozambique Letter #4

Hello! Hello.

It seems that the gulf between here and there grows with each passing day making it harder and harder to summarise things. And yet, here is a chance to tell you all, I'm in front of a computer screen at last, so here goes a spontaneous composition.

Am indeed ankle deep in this Mozambique stuff now.

I'm halfway through the second semester of three in teaching 11th grade English. This week, took off on Tuesday, with my colleague agreeing to cover my Thursday classes. I left for tourist heaven: Vilanculos, with my good bud Priscilla. It's Priscilla's last month in country before she leaves our town of Machanga for her home in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is a Mennonite Volunteer living at a girls' dormitory in Machanga. Machanga's quite small and we're the two muzungus there. Besides circumstances, we've built a really nice friendship! Time is forever widening the gulf of circumstances between us - family and friends, but fortunately, there are always new souls, kindred spirits that come into the picture. And what a blessing they are. I am happy to introduce her to beautiful Vilanculos and to Camila who is another volunteer and friend living here. Camila and I have really hit it off as well, so I was really happy for these two to meet one another and for us to spend glorious time here, eating, watching movies, and so forth. Every time I come here I end up having dinner with someone from Argentina, Spain, France...Always interesting company. And Camila's home is beautiful. She and I have similar attitudes about food, that it a communal aspect of friendship and comfort. In short, it's always great fun coming here.

Yesterday was Priscilla's birthday. We paid 2000 mets. (70 dollars?) to take a boat out with two nice couples, on out to the islands around Vilanculos. There is a reef around one such island that we went snorkleing in. After a great meal made on the boat and served on shore, and Priscilla learned to relax in the water (her first time snorkeling) it was glorious. I felt I was inside the aquarium with the water flow and all. Every look down into the water revealed a new kind of fish. And there's one I saw in the guidebook! Three colors! I floated into a giant school of them, and their indifference made me feel like a large fish, in strange incognito. Strange how such delicate flowers grow on the hard corral. I got a circular cut on my arm (a souvenir) that bled bright red. Where else can one get a circular cut? I told Priscilla I feel like in Machanga I'm pretending to be poor and here I felt I was pretending to be rich. The company dispelled this feeling. The two couples and crew greatly added to the adventure. One was a cute couple from the Canadian Rockies. He is a mountain guide and she a cook for geological expeditions in the Ukon. They asked me what Romania was like, and after gushing about it for some minutes I finished. "Thank you!" I said. Being here, I really haven't had a chance to speak about my time in Romania. My friends there became extended family and the country thusly became very dear to me. An opportunity to speak about it was a great relief. I was writing some letters to friends there some months back and finished realized for some hours I was there in Romania with them. It's amazing how imagination, technology, and mail can have that effect. And yet, as the days pass by, children grow up. My cousins' kids will be 10 before I've had 2 conversations with them. My nephew is already a toddler, those infant years behind him. So, while we remain connected, and imagination and cell phones shrink distances, there is still the chasm of distance that leads my path further from the home and the friends I know. But, enough nostalgia and contemplation. Back to our trip.

The other two were a German couple who had spent 6 years living in Virginia and the last 6 in South Africa. He was a Science teacher there. One of their children was born there and has thus dual citizenship.

It's amazing how much of the world has a connection to 'my' country.

So, best wrap this up.

About the snorkeling: it was like being a star floating among constellations. The fish seemed drugged in their responses to what was surely an alien invader. As I bumped and scraped against the corral trying to make like a jet flying (all of one yard underwater) amongst deep corral canyons, I realized how ridiculous and ill suited I was made for this terrain.

About Machanga and school: kids are learning. Rediscovering levity as I get comfortable in my teaching style. I've been playing games again as I used to with my kindergardeners in Romania. Everyone it seems loves games and candy. It's especially helpful with my night class. They get awfully antsy as the sun sets and it helps to have something active for them to do.

I'm hoping to take a cue from Prisicilla and move into the dorm on campus and eat what they eat/ live their conditions some. Really, isolated as I am in the teacher's compound, I feel comparatively wealthy, which is not my aim. With the boys, I'll be eating corn meal and beans everyday and have less privacy, but as trade off, greater integration, comaraderie, and hopefully initiative to see projects through that benefit them.

I'll let you know how it goes when next I check in.

Until then,

yours sincerely,


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