Sunday, December 5, 2010

Greetings from the North

So after ten weeks of Namaacha life, we were treated to a one-night
stay in one of the nicest hotels in Maputo, the capital city. And this
place was indeed fantastic.  Not much can be better than making toasts
after our swearing-in as volunteers on a balcony overlooking the whole
city and the Indian Ocean. But, in true Mozambican fashion, in this
five star hotel, our bathroom door was broken, and my friends’ window
did not fully close. But the hot shower, air conditioning, and
non-cement, non-dirt-covered floor was well worth it.

Our swearing-in ceremony was at the ambassador’s house, which was a
beautiful three-story mansion, demonstrating the vast discrepancy of
wealth in the city, and extending to the entire country itself. The
English teachers, the science teachers, and the health volunteers all
had matching capulana (multi-purpose, bright, beautiful, Mozambican
fabric) outfits within these three sectors; the girls mostly wore
dresses with the boys in tunics. After a few speeches, and us taking
an oath, we performed a cultural segment. It had been my friend’s
birthday earlier in the week, and we had gotten a cake made for her as
a surprise. After training was over that day, the choir was going to
practice for the performance, and she wanted to attend, and since I
wanted to be there when we brought out the cake, I was thus obliged to
attend the rehearsal as well. And so somehow, even with my inability
to carry a tune, I made my way into a spot in the choir, singing a
song in Portuguese for the ambassador. Unfortunately, Obama was not at
our swearing-in, though he will be attending the one for the Ukraine
volunteers later this month. Needless to say, we feel more than a
little short-changed.

But I am now an official Peace Corps Volunteer, no more being a lowly
trainee (and recently found out my monthly paycheck will be a whooping
$187/month). And at 4am the next morning, my fellow education
volunteers in the North and I (15 of us) headed out of the lap of
luxury and to the Maputo airport. Taking a departing flight out of
Maputo International Airport was interesting to the say the least, for
someone used to flying in the US. Most notably, we walked through the
security line, did not have to remove any metal from ourselves, so the
metal detector went off for everyone, and then our bags were scantily
searched by security officials. The plane ran on Mozambique time, we
left 45 minutes late with no reason given, and the promised 1 hour 50
minute flight took closer to 3 hours, with Kenny G being blasted the
entire time. But despite the fact that Mozambique is a country that is
entirely BYOE (bring your own everything: toilet paper, trash bag,
plate, fork, cup, etc; you name it and think you might need it, you
should probably just bring it), the airplane was probably nicer than
most of the ones I have traveled on in the US.

As we descended into the Nampula airport, we got our first glimpse of
the northern part of the country. The landscape is absolutely
incredible: there are these mountains and crags that appear as if from
nowhere, and are slightly indicative and reminiscent of the
Flintstones. The whole feel of the North is more laid-back and has an
Arab tinge, as opposed to that of the Portuguese in the South. Four
whole days of hot showers and a delicious buffet at every meal (though
coupled with power surges that briefly cut off the electricity about
every 30 minutes) will be a nice little treat before we are dropped
off at our sites after a conference with our school directors. I can’t
really say why, but ever since the first day we started talking about
sites, I felt I belonged in the North, and now that I am here, I still
can’t explain why, but I know that I was correct in my initial


  1. I'm so proud of you tiggs. I love reading your blog. Keep up the good work. I can't wait to see a picture of you in your capulana!! Good luck with the next portion of this adventure.
    -Lil Dip

  2. Whobody,

    I just wanted to send you some love and tell you that you are so insightful and aware and that makes your blog so wonderful and real. You are an incredible person. I'm honored to have you as a Whobody there :)

    Your Who