Well this is gonna be a long one. I’ll try to summarize the past two weeks as best I can…
I finally have internet! No phone, due to the faulty nature of technology purchased in Africa and the headache-nature of unlocking my iPhone, partially due to Apple and partially due to Sprint. But all this aside, I am finally able to update my blog…hooray!
Travel and our whirlwind stay in Maputo took a lot out of me, but I have never and will probably never again experience the range of emotions I felt on the day we arrived in Namaacha. We exited the buses and were greeted by a host of women in capulanas (Mozambican colorful fabric worn around the waist like a skirt) singing and holding pieces of paper with our names on them. I found my mãe and then, all of a sudden I was walking down the street with her towards the house I would be staying in for the next 3 months, racking my brain for things to say in Portuguese. It was awkward. When we got to the house I met my 19-year-old sister, Lidia and we ate lunch together after setting up my room and mosquito net.
I live in a 3 room house with a small gas stove (very nice when the power goes out…which is a lot) in the kitchen and a small television on which we watch tela-novellas every night. We also have a DVD players and a wealth of Kung-Fu movies but I have yet to watch any of them.
Around dinner time my family left for a party at our neighbor’s house who also happens to be the host family of one of the other volunteers, Matt. We had a great time eating and drinking and dancing and holding Matt’s adorable baby brother. It was probably nine or ten o’clock before my mãe told me the party was for a dead guy. She explained that everyone was having so much fun because they like to celebrate a person’s life instead of mourning their death. It was such a shock to be thrown into something like that with a bunch of people you’ve just met who don’t speak your language, but writing this down now is funny because someone in my immediate vicinity is either having a party or blasting music from their house constantly. I’ve just grown used to it. Usually my indicator that it’s time to get up and take a bath is Titanium blaring from my neighbor’s house every morning at 5:45 AM.
My first day in Namaacha feels like months ago, now. Since then I’ve killed a chicken, hiked up the mountains and to the Swaziland border, taught my family how to do the wop, learned all sorts of different Mozambican dances, given 4 haircuts to my fellow PCTs, and tried numerous times without results to explain to everyone why I’m not married with children yet.
My daily schedule these days is basically 12 hours of total-immersion Language classes sprinkled with classes about the technical aspects of teaching. I wake up at around 5 AM to the sound of HUNDREDS of roosters crowing at the same time and I lay there for about an hour daydreaming of cutting the heads off of every chicken that lives in this country. Then I take a bath out of a bucket outside, usually accompanied by a lizard or maybe a frog. The bucket bath is an art form but once you’ve mastered it you would be surprised how little water you actually need to bathe. And I get clean, too! It’s not pleasant in the mornings when it’s cold but nothing beats a nice outdoor bucket bath in the afternoon when it’s 100 degrees outside. After my bath I have to “tomar cha” which means to drink tea but I’m the only one who actually drinks tea in my family. The rest of them just load up their hot water with instant coffee, milk, sugar, etc. And God forbid you should do this without eating bread as well. Sometimes I have an egg or a banana too, but always bread lest mãe give me the third degree on why I did not eat bread with my tea in the morning. I think it might be somewhere in the Portuguese version of the Bible.
After a full day of grueling classes that make me want to drown myself in my bath bucket or maybe even my latrine, I usually go for a walk around Namaacha to visit my friends and return home in time to eat dinner and watch the Brazilian soap opera Passions with mãe before passing out from exhaustion at around 8.
Living in Africa is of course different than living in the States, but in a lot of ways it is very similar. The other night we had German potato salad for dinner! Everyone laughs when I tell them my name since it translates to "face" in Portuguese, and some of them refuse to recognize it as a name at all and just call me Carla or Carlotta. It’s very overwhelming right now but at the same time there is such a routine that it was easy to accept the quirks and roll with it. This is my life now, for the next two years and I am so lucky to be experiencing it and to have 49 other wonderful people to share this experience with.
A few of the girls in our group have started to meet every week for devotions and talking with them really makes me excited to see what God has in store for all of us during this period. It’s so hard and so overwhelming sometimes and I have experienced every single emotion that humans are capable of, sometimes all in one day. At the end of the day, though, I know I’m here in this place with these people for a reason and I can’t wait to watch it unfold.
Currently the best bet of contacting me in the near future is probably Facebook or email. I love and miss everyone from home but my days are so jam packed that it’s hard to find time to check in, so please forgive me! I will try to update more often from now on and hopefully I’ll have some pictures to show soon, too. Right now, though, my sister is frying some delicious-smelling chicken and I think it’s time for a Domingo nap before lunch.