Saturday, October 21, 2006

Life in Mozambique

Hi Everyone!

I think I finally feel settled her in Mozambique. The first few weeks were a little rough. I love all the people, classes are cool, and there´s so much to learn, but it really finally hit me how far away I´m going to be for so long. But now that I´ve had a few weeks to adjust it´s feeling more real and more normal. This really is my life.

The 55 of us were split into several groups, and scattered to various suburbs of the capital. We are further subdivided into language pods (six of us in mine). We have class 5-6 days a week, with several hours of language, and then some combination of tech/cross-culture/med/safety and security. The technical stuff is surprisingly ok. I´ve taught two lessons so far, one for 15 min on Polinization (polinizacao) and one for 20 min on the respiratory system (o sistema respiratoria). They´re building us up to the standard 45 minute lessons that we´ll actually have in the schools. At the moment I rely heavily on notes, but as my Portuguese progresses I think my lessons will get better and better.

So, about the Portuguese. It´s hard. I am extremely envious of the people with Spanish backgrounds--French is not so helpful.....alas, c´est la vie (or perhaps i should say entâo, é la vida!). I have learned an enormous amount, but when you´ve had three forms of past tenses, two of present, two of future, and a smattering of conditional, your head does feel like it´s about to explode. And that´s in addition to all those pesky nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc. I´m frustrated every day by how much I don´t understand in conversation, and how little I´m able to communicate. But then I think to myself "I´ve only had 15 DAYS of language classes, how can I expect myself to get it all now?" It will come with time. Paciencia. Apparently we Bio teachers have a real advantage when it comes to language, because we´re forced to use it so much. The english teachers aren´t allowed to use Portuguese in their lessons. We have a constant stream of current Volunteers flowing through training, and we hear again and again from the Bio teachers that you learn FAST in the classroom. It was really reassuring that so much of the vocabulary is similar--it´s much easier to read and understand than I would have expected.

Many thanks to those of you who have been sending me letters (i know some of them are taking their time on the way), phone calls and text messages. I´m glad the latter two options have turned out to be so inexpensive--a little touch of home goes a long way here. The two letters I received from my mom took 12 and 16 days respectively, so not bad at all! I think it´s slower the other way, but I´m trying my best! My very cool mother sent me clippings of comic strips--who ever thought I´d be reading Get Fuzzy in Moz = )

I´m amazed by how hot it is getting here already. It´s only the beginning of spring, and we´ve already had the occasional scorching day. It´s the kind of weather that wouldn´t be bad if you had an air conditioned refuge, but when your house has a tin roof with few windows the air is stagnant and hot. The bits of the country I´ve seen so far are beautiful--rich reddish sand, fruit trees galore (papaya, mango, banana, orange, lemon, POMEGRANATE and LYCHEE, and some unknown fruit called Ata, which has the texture-flavor of tropical fruit yogurt--anyone who can tell me the english name will get extra letters). We also have what I believe are Flame Trees--I have not yet seen the Limpopo, but Kipling´s "great green greasy Limpopo river all set about with flame trees" is all around me.

We´re all really excited, because we have site-visits next week, where we go and stay with volunteers scattered all across the country. We´re all starting to feel a little burned out from training, so it will be a welcome change to do some traveling. Plus we´ll get more of the real peace corps experience, and what it will actually feel like to be at site. Can´t wait!

I think my time is running out, so I´d better go, but love to all and keep in touch!



At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you remember the time we went to Dean and Delucca and bought two lychee nuts and two kumquats and the guy at the cashier thought we were crazy? I was reminded of it in your description of fruit trees...Anyway, it was wonderful talking to you yesterday!!! I'm glad you are getting more settled!

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Maputo said...


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