Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The People in my Life

After seven months at site I received my FIRST visit from other PCVs. I get the fewest PCV visitors (note that ive had lots of fantastic staff visits, because our pc moz staff is ridiculously amazing) because I am a)isolated (only one PCV is within a days travel) and b)not in a tourist location (the only Volunteer North of me is on the beach, so she gets tons of visitors even tho she is FAR.

So Megan and Sarah earned a special place in my heart for traveling two whole days to my site and two whole days back to Zambezia just to see me. It was fun getting to show off Namapa--walking to the market, the river, the brand new pastelaria (bakery!) and to just spend time curled up in my house cooking Thai food and chatting.

However, I think Im glad I dont get a lot of visitors, because it made me feel like a stranger in my own community. Usually as I walk through town I get choruses of Bom Dia Senhora Professora! Salaama! and Ola Dona Laura! etc., but walking around with Megs and Sarah we were mostly stared at, looked at suspiciously, asked for money, oh and my friends in the market wanted to take a photo to Remember this Day FOR EVER. LOL. The day after they left people kept coming up to me and saying I saw you walking yesterday with two white girls! I felt like a stranger, or like I do when Im traveling away from site. It was a strange feeling.

I have been requested to provide some character sketches, so here goes:
The Local Government
The District Administrator-Our district is so lucky because he is amazing. Very hard working, friendly (loves Peace Corspa and is always chekcing in on me), respect ful (calls me Doctora Laura) and in the words of the nuns here ''a good person even though hes a muslim'' LOL
The Secratario Permanente- (number 2 in the district govt) also hardworking and friendly and calls me Minha Filha (my daughter)
Nelson-works in the Admin and is my best friend and next door neighbor. Its great, we speak English, play cards, read Newsweek, and scheme to get DVDs of things like Pirates III. Poor guy, all the teachers hate him because they are jealous that I hang out with him instead of them. Its going to be odd going home and not being chased by every male within 100k LOL.
The School
The Director-very sweet, also loves PC, though prefers teachign to being in charge so he may go back to Nampula next year.
The Pedagogical Directors, Jaaz, Diolintino and Valdimiro-all very nice and hard working though only Jaaz has been a Ped director since the beginning of the year (lots of movimento) Im kind of glad one of the others left because he was always trying to get me to drop my bio classes (mid trimeste!) and teach English.
The Teachers-
Dino-Chem teacher sho makes me laugh calling me the Portuguese equivalents of My Passion and Fluffy and tells me how much le loves me.
Nunes-Sweet, non-assertive (NOT typical among Moz men) Physics teacher. Hes just adorable (Im taller than a bunch of the guys--ah malnutrition...)
Rafael-philosophy teacher who likes to wax on with the grand debating flourishes, friendly and a lot of fun.
Hilario-geography teacher, very giggly. And the list goes on....
Generally good natured and humorous, though virtually all (inluding the married ones) have made it clear that they would like to get me drunk and/or seduce me. They are very amused and somewhat miffed by my refusals. A few teachers who I won't name make me angry by proving the rumors we heard coming in about the Moz education system including;
--the ones accepting goats/chickens for grades
--the ones who write the lesson summary every day and leave without teaching
--the one who gets pissed at me for teaching Bio during his 3rd period class when he doesn't show up until 5 minutes before the end of class
NGO Neighbors
The Ukranian Dr. Oleg, always tring to get me to either drink whiskey (at 11 am!) or eat Plumpy Nut, a French product designed for malnourished children--hes convinced that im losing weight, but im not i promise! he is now on a well deserved month long vacation home (i requested caviar)--he hasn't taken a day off this year including weekends, he is ALWAYS in the hospital. Pretty amazing that he's been in Moz for 20-30 years (through the war), though he says where else could he practice such interesting medicine without having any of the Admin/paperwork hassles of the Western world.
VArious other Drs and logistics staff-all very nice, occasionally give me rides to town, and let me charge my phone with their generator
The guards-Ibrahim, Orlando and a few others, very nice guys who keep an eye on my house (Orlando chased down a thief) and they are the ones I am doing my big garden project with--beets carrots and herbs next month!
The Market
I walk in to hear Ola Dona Laura! Temos beringela para ti! as they know I love eggplant. I bully them into tracking down farmers with carrots or leaving things on the plant until they are actually ripe (a losing battle i am afraid, tho i am now used to green tomatoes eggplant and peppers, I think I'm more appreciative of these things now because I know that between Jan-May I won't have ANYTHING green in the market. Ah how my standards have fallen...I used to be such a picky girl. My buddy Zito works hard to track stuff down for me and raises the prices of things i like so they'll still be there when i get to the market (then the price goes back down for me).
The Students
How do I even generalize about them? There are so many! I think I know about 100 names (out of almost 600 with transfer students) and Im workin on more now that I dont have to focus on Portugese. I have some who thrill me with their love of Biology, many who beg me to teach 9th grade next year (ie. move up with them) and somewho I just cant describe how sweet and funny they can be. Granted its not all smooth sailing. In the 2nd trimester i caught 101 cabulas (cheat sheets or notebooks) which just makes me want to SCREAM. And it makes me want to cry when its the girls (and sometimes boys) who either cant speak Portuguese or cant read and write. i don't know how i can help this group of kids--even cheating theyll fail cause you cant pass a test if you dont understand the language the questions are written in. Some challenges i can rise to meet, but this one defeats me. Suggestions?

Ok, this is getting rather long, so will continue later, but here are some quick thanks;
Letters from Lauren Walsh (who sent me STICKERS just as i was running out, you are amazing!) Mme. Gaultier-mail from paris to the bush! Very exciting, but now I have to remember my French well enought to write back coherently...., and of course Connie the faithful correspondent (with the exception of Laura and my parents she puts you ALL to shame).
Packages from Mummy and Daddy (of course) drink mixes definitely hit the spot as the weather starts gettting hotter again, my old lax training buddy PFC Chen, who sent me MREs (army rations) wheich are paked full of all kinds of fun things (M and Ms, wow) and are very much appreciated. He seems to think that PC sounds tougher than boot camp, LOL not sure id agree. Many many thanks and I'm going to have way too mucb fun with the chemical heating pouches...

Right now I'm at our Regional conference in Nampula, and after this I am off on the overland trip through Zambezia and all the way down to Vilankulo in Inhambane with Heath and Bethany....Oy not looking forward to five days on a machibombo/chapa onthe way back...i think my posterior is going to regret this.

That's all folks. So much love to all and keep the letters coming! Only 4 months till I see you all!
xx
ps. Did you know that some cockroaches can FLY!? Very Heart of Darkness--The Horror!

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