“So plant your own garden and decorate your soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.” –Jorge Luis Borges
It’s been a while since I’ve had time to write. My life recently has been quite busy! After the JUNTOS Workshop, I had to finish up my grades and the semester at the IFP and prepare French work for my students. Then I left for the JUNTOS handover in Chimoio! Because transport was difficult, this was a 3-day trip for me just to get there—a night in Nampula, a night in Beira, and finally Chimoio on the third day. It was fun, getting to see different parts of Mozambique! Beira is the second largest city in Mozambique, and is a big port city. We didn’t see much, but we got a small tour on the way to our hotel and later on walking around. It’s got it’s own Chinatown that is actually owned by China, as well as a giant abandoned hotel where a lot of people now live. It’s a very interesting city. Chimoio too is an interesting city. We didn’t see much, but it reminded me a lot more of the states than any city I’ve been in in Mozambique. Maybe it’s due to the large expat population and proximity to Zimbabwe…
Our JUNTOS handover went well. I think people taking the new leadership roles were pretty confused, but then again, so were we last year… Afterwards, I had the opportunity to travel a bit in the south of Mozambique and meet up with a bunch of fantastic friends who hosted me and showed off their sites. It was interesting how different some things were in different parts of Mozambique, including construction of houses (circular huts or bamboo shacks as opposed to mud houses with thatched roofs), behavior (more educated people and conversations, women wearing shorter skirts/pants), and transportation (lots of big buses, pretty regular chapas). It was a great experience!
Afterwards, I met Caitlin in Maputo and we flew to Zimbabwe! We landed in Harare and made our way to a hostel, where we stayed that night. In Zim, they’ve used the American dollar since their currency collapsed. It was weird using dollars again! The next day we took a bus to Bulawayo, another big town, and then an overnight train to Victoria Falls. The train car had 4 beds and a sink that turned into a table… it was nice having a place to lay down compared to the Cuamba train! We made it to Vic Falls town around noon and checked into our hostel, then went to look for bungee jumping deals. Unfortunately we didn’t find any, but we did find great coffee!
The next day we visited the falls. They were beautiful! We were only in the park for about 2 hours, but we walked along the falls, got soaked by the mist, and watched people bungee jump off the bridge! Afterwards, we took a stroll back to town, accidentally passing through the historic Victoria Falls Hotel, which was very much above our price range. It was very fancy! It was the 4th of July, so we made a burger and fries feast for dinner and hung out at our hostel. The next day we took a bus back to Bulawayo and then to Harare, where we stayed a night before getting on a bus to Tete in Mozambique.
It was interesting coming back to Moz after Zim. The people on the bus were VERY distrustful of Mozambicans. When we arrived at the border post, they announced that Mozambique was a dangerous place full of thieves, and that we shouldn’t take money or valuables off the bus. Funnily enough, Caitlin and I felt relief coming back to Mozambique. There was a lot more trash though as soon as you crossed the border…
We managed to catch a ride from Tete city to Angonia where we spent a few days at the IFP and even went into the English class. It was fun to see how Tania teaches her class compared to us. After, I spent a day in Zobue before making my way across the dreaded Malawi back to Niassa. In my opinion, Malawi is a beautiful country that is best appreciated from a private car and not public transport. I made it across Malawi to about 30km from the border on my own route by 3:30. The border closed at 6. I should have been at the border with plenty of time, right? Wrong. I got there right at 6pm because we had to wait for the minibus to fill up and then it broke down twice. Luckily the Mozambican border guards were awesome and let me across. I also managed to find a car pretty quickly that was going up north, so I made it to Massengulo in less than 2 hours.
I spent a few days in Massengulo, a pretty town a stones throw from Malawi, with Vanessa, a volunteer about to COS. We relaxed and cooked and watched movies. It was a nice welcome back to Mozambique. Finally I made my way back to Cuamba and the IFP. It was nice to be back and hear everyone shouting my name and greeting me again!
Being back in Cuamba has been great so far. We’ve got a new director who’s really cracking down on the unprofessionalism and corruption, which I think has been great. I’ve also organized my schedule so that I have Fridays off! My IFP students have been doing well in class and actively participating in our conversation club. Our highlight of last week was watching Youtube videos and playing Never Have I Ever (the switching chairs version). I found out my EGRA program has been continued by one of my JUNTOS kids, even though he has his own school and no help! I was incredibly touched when I found that out. I’ve also got my JUNTOS group ready to distribute mosquito nets next week and planning their English Theater play. My French class was happy to see me, telling me, “Madame Sama, we missed your smile!” when I walked through the door. They’ve also been very actively participating in French Club!
This month I also started observing my students in their student teaching! I’m at a new school this year—Maguiguane Primary School—Observing 9 of my students. They have 40-60 students in their classes, but at this school they actually have desks and full chalkboards. My students are still figuring things out, especially classroom management. Turns out all of the windows are broken and some teachers don’t come to class, which means that a lot of kids will either be running past the classroom making a lot of noise or else standing at the (nonexistent) window making comments about the makunha in the classroom. They’re doing a pretty good job in general though, and I’m excited to see how things progress!
I’ll be heading home next week for 11 days for wedding and birthday festivities, yikes! I don’t know how I’m going to react to being back in the states, and I’m actually pretty nervous. People at home should be ready for me and my changes, including but not limited to me stating the obvious, being amazed by simple things like laundry machines and hot showers, not showing my legs above the knee, being more blunt than normal, and wearing a sweatshirt in 75 degree weather. Get ready, USA!
French word of the day: Une pêche- a peach. We’re watching a video where they talk about peaches.
Portuguese word of the day: a média- the mean or average. All my students want to know their média for the trimester.
Makua word of the day: ovoreiha- to get sick