Saturday, August 13, 2011

Goodbye City Life. Hello Mato.

I have officially said goodbye to city life. I now live in the mato (aka, the bush).

About three weeks ago, our house was broken into. Nothing was stolen and no one was hurt, but the resulting attempted break-ins with the stolen keys along with other incidents that have happened to previous volunteers in my town made Peace Corps feel that moving us out of the city was necessary. I now live 15km outside my old town of Gurué in the small, small, small, (emphasis noted?) town of Invinha.

I moved in with one of my best friends, Allison, who is finishing her Peace Corps contract at the end of the school year (December). I will be either commuting back to the city to continue my old classes and/or taking over some classes of the overworked teachers at Allison’s school for the next four months. Then, next year, I will replace Allison as the Invinha volunteer.

Though I am not happy to be leaving what was my home for 8 months, to be leaving my students who I have come to really enjoy teaching, to be adjusting to a new site, new neighbors, new coworkers, everything, Invinha was my first choice if a move was necessary. Being here, I can still commute to the city (and by commute, I mean, essentially hitchhike) to work with my girls group and English theatre troop, and keep in contact easily with people in Gurué, all of which are extremely important to me.

Invinha is a small town that pretty much exists because of the secondary school. About 25 of the 35 teachers live in a teacher’s neighborhood, and the only food that can be bought in the “market” is onions, tomatoes (maybe), coconuts, (maybe), sugar, oil, and other extreme basics. So I have to go into the city to buy the “luxury” items, like rice and wheat flour, that I will inevitably want. My house is pretty much the same, concrete with a tin roof, no running water, and a water-dump-flush toilet. The pump I get water from is about 2 houses away, which is awesome, but I will have to learn a whole new set of water-pump politics (whose turn it is, when I can go, etc etc), which shall be interesting. There is no cell service, so we have a landline phone, circa 1992. It is pretty legit. So I will be slower answering emails and not very able to respond to texts unless I happen to be in town. My house is also on a dirt road that goes between Gurué and the next big town, which means, lots of dust gets EVERYWHERE whenever a car or motorcycle drives by. The people-watching, therefore, is more than excellent from the porch. Also on the positive, I brought my big refrigerator (YAY!), and Allison has a dog. So I am now the proud owner of 2 trash-eating, dust-covered, chicken-chasing, absolutely lovely, loving dogs.

And the best part of the Invinha Secondary School: it is a Catholic school run by nuns. Yes, thank you very much Bishop O’Dowd High, my Catholic education is certainly coming in handy…in Mozambique. But I do like me some Mozambican church music, and, because it is a Catholic school, the classes are much smaller, the community is much tighter, and the demographic makeup of the students is either RICH or literally taken from the bush (making for some interesting interactions). But the school and town are much smaller and more supportive than my previous big city livin’, so it will be good. Or so I hope.

I think I always wanted to live in a small town in Mozambique, and Invinha is pretty darn great. No, I would rather not move, but if I had to, Invinha would be it. Though the fact that I LITERALLY live in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but the sporadically-placed mud house and subsistence farmers between me and the possibility of purchasing bananas and eggs is pretty daunting. It shall be interesting.

We have begun making our own peanut butter from the roasted peanuts in town. Skippy and Jif here I come.

The only truly legit grocery store in the entirety of the north of Mozambique, ShopRite (a South African chain) burnt down a few weeks ago because, apparently, they weren’t paying the workers sufficiently. So the workers burnt it down. Now where I am supposed to get my spices, oats, and shampoo? Granted, it was 8 hours away on a good day, but still…it is pretty sad.

And finally, I helped with a WONDERFUL girl’s empowerment conference last week connected to my girls group. We talked about many things from HIV/AIDS stuff to public speaking to nutrition to women’s rights, and study skills. For all you camp people, imagine Camp Kesem or UniCamp but with more of an emphasis on condoms, periods, and why not to sleep with teachers. Seriously though, it was amazing.

 Me and my girls at the conference.

 New brothers. 

 My new home.

The Gurue crew at the Provincial Science Fair.

 Third-place winner! My student! (sweet Obama shirt- CHECK!)

Mom and Dad in Cape Town


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