Today, a few friends and I took the trek into Maputo, the capital city. The wondrous joys of chappah rides was in full force today, as at one time I counted 24 people crammed into a van that I believe was originally manufactured with enough seats for 15. We are currently at a restaurant with free, albeit slow, wifi that serves hamburgers and milkshakes, and has a bathroom stocked with real flush-toilets, toiletpaper, and soap. I have not yet been to a restroom in this country with just any one of the above. It is literally like a dream come true even though it is probably the worst tasting version of American food I have ever had. Where is some Barney’s when I need it? We are at a small shopping center at the outskirts of the city and went to a real ShopRite, which is like a Target or big Longs. It has EVERYTHING! At first, the fluorescent lighting was a little overwhelming but then, we only had to grow accustomed to the outrageous prices. Most things were the expected U.S. price if converted to American dollars, so a $3 notebook is a huge rip-off considering my paycheck during training is $40 every two weeks. We have only been here six weeks and already, a 20 minute excursion to a normal grocery store was the most unnerving experience of my life.
But, in other news, I passed my language exam. That means that after five weeks of training, I have achieved the level that they expect from us before they send us off to our sites. But, I personally, would like to be more confident in my language skills by then so I am looking forward to the next four weeks of practicing. Looking back on it though, my first few days and weeks here consisted of appearing to listen intently to what one of my family members was saying but in actuality having absolutely no idea, and then responding “Sim, sim” whenever they were done, even though I had no clue what saying yes would mean in the context of what they had said. This is why I believe my host family thought I was married for the first week. So, I now feel like I can say most of what I would like to say, even if in simple terms, and am feeling pretty good about that. And to bring it back to the original intent of my blog:
MOZAMBIQUE: 4. ANNIE: 5.
Not much exciting other than language tests happened this week. We were assigned our turmas for our Model School. In Mozambican secondary schools (normally 8-12th grades, but sometimes they only go to 10th grade) break up grades of students into turmas, of anywhere between 40-120 students, and each turma is assigned a room, and the teachers go around to the different rooms/turmas to teach their lessons while the students stay in the same place. I am teaching English to some of the 8th grade turmas. Over the two weeks I will be teaching four lessons on: classroom vocabulary and useful phrases for the classroom, superlative adjectives, vocabulary for places around the community, and making a map of the community. Should be interesting.
Last night, I was trying to explain to my host-mom that most people in America only speak one language well. She was absolutely floored and said, quite accurately, that in this sense, Mozambique is a “farther ahead,” as she put it. Most people in Mozambique are bi-lingual, if not also tri- or quatri-lingual (they can speak the local language, Portuguese, and perhaps English, French, Swazi, etc). My host-mom said she wants to learn English and is planning on going to back to school soon, within the next few years, to complete her high school degree at night school (she dropped out of the eighth grade to have her oldest son). I was totally thrilled for her when she shared this with me.
I guess I am really getting used to life here since I have no stories to share of language barriers, a lack of knowledge about cultural norms, or anything else that is potentially considered humorous, usually only after the fact. But, Happy November, Go Giants (of course, a bay area team wins a championship the moment I leave…), and I am happy to be a part of a state that did not allow a certain candidate to buy her governorship!