Monday, April 25, 2011

Passa em Cima

The Portuguese word for Easter is Pascoa, and the Portuguese word for Passover is Pascoa dos Judeos, or literally, Easter of the Jews (yes, our holiday is only in reference to the Christian holiday that happens at the same time of year). I personally prefer to refer to this particularly wonderful holiday as Passa em Cima, which is the literal translation that I semi-invented of to pass-over in Portuguese. But, nonetheless, my favorite holiday was indeed celebrated here in Mozambique. Last weekend, we combined Jewish Passover with Lebanese Easter, in what we coined as our Judeo-Christian Spring Holiday Party. The cultural exchange was exemplified by our alternatively dipping homemade matzah with charoset (essentially, Passover salsa) and homemade hummus, as the appetizers to other delicious dishes from both traditions. The food, the company, and the sharing of traditions were fantastic. Though we did not partake in any real seder (the Passover service), I told the extremely abridged version of the Passover story while we cooked and we altered the typical Passover toast of “next year in Jerusalem” to “next year in Beirut” to complete the cultural exchange. Aside from the 6 Peace Corps Volunteers in attendance, the two Mozambicans kept raving about the food, though they were initially a little skeptical of the “sauce” we told them to dip their crackers into. I would venture to call the extravaganza a success. Maybe next year, we will graduate to a more complete seder.

Prior to the celebration of Passa em Cima, I spent 5 glorious days in a fancy hotel with hot showers, full-length mirrors (!), Indian buffet at every meal, and air-conditioning. I didn’t realize I missed real showers until I had this opportunity, but the return to the bucket bath actually felt like home. I was at a hotel for a Peace Corps conference meant for the volunteers in my group to check in about how we have been doing teaching and integrating at site, to bounce teaching ideas off each other, and to exchange experiences, stories, and above all tips. I only missed one day of the festivities due to a high fever that resulted from bug bites that got infected from showering in the water here. But I survived, though I’m sure that will not be my last incident like this. We were all very excited about the prospect of the fast wireless Internet that is free at the hotel, but as luck/Mozambique would have it, the internet was down in the entire city of Nampula until our last day of the conference. Typical, but did I mention the showers, mirrors, and food?

The end of the conference also means that the second trimester of school is about to start, but I definitely feel more prepared to teach more effectively this term, as my students are adapting to my “weird” style and different accents in English and Portuguese, and I am getting into more of a groove lesson-planning. But we shall see.

Upon arriving home after the conference, we realized that someone had done limpeza around our house. Limpeza is in this scenario is gardening/cutting down all forms of plant life that have been growing, albeit occasionally a little out of control, all around our house. It is just a cultural difference in that I like the ambiance of having greenery around my house while most Mozambicans find it unseemly. But hey, I will take the free yard work, though whoever it was did throw away all the veggies and herbs my roommate had planted in pots on our back porch, which is more than unfortunate.

A word on Mozambican banks: the lines to talk to a teller or use the ATM are generally OUT OF CONTROL. Lines are hours and hours long because everyone gets paid at the same time of the month and it is extremely rare to actually be able to use a debit card to purchase anything, thus making cash a necessity. Furthermore, lines take forever because my town, which is pretty sizeable, has only 1 bank that most people actually go to, which does not suffice. But the most horrendous and egregious reason for the long lines is that I figure my average time spent at the concrete ATM machine is about 37 seconds, but the 40 people ahead of me in line will inevitably take on average 5 minutes each. I did, however, save the entire line some hassle today by not believing that the machine was broken and “forcing” my card through the slot and then proceeding to show the next 10 people behind me my technological “trick.” Leave it to the weird foreign girl many people in line had previously been staring at to save the day.

Happy Belated Easter and Passover! Boa Pascoa e Boa Pascoa dos Judeos!

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