Tuesday, March 28, 2006


And Paul learns something...

...about the shape of his head. I got my haircut today, Mozambican style, which is too say, practically shaved off. Looking at myself in the mirror as I got my haircut I felt like I was joining the military and getting a crew cut. I think its a fine haircut (we´ll see what Eli has to say), but it is funny how ´a little bit off the sides´ can really mean ´leave only about 4mm everywhere´.
In case you were wondering I actually have a nicely shaped head.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Cats dogs and lanche

We just finished with the ACP week, which was interesting... I barely had to work although Eli had to control a lot more exams than I did. We each caught kids cheating with cabulas, little hidden cheat sheets (up until now they´ve been using their notebooks). Eli actually has to go back on Monday to proctor another test on account of school being canceled last thursday due to an enormous rain storm here in Nacala.

It was raining cats and dogs, or maybe bigger animals, because by the end of the day a big section of the road by our house had been washed away! Now there are piles of dirt and rocks at the bottom of the hill here and in front of our new apartment. At some places the water was 5 inches deep and running fast. It all came down a hill with dirt roads, and brought most of the dirt from those roads with it. And Eli had to walk to school in that rain only to learn that school was canceled!! We´re not complaining though, rain is the one thing that this city desperatly needs. Unfortunately, the rain should have started months before it did.

Friday was our moving day! So we´ve had 2 nights in the new house. We spent ALL DAY friday moving, it was especially hard because we hadn´t really packed beforehand. The moral from this story is that you shouldn´t bring a lot of junk to Peace Corps, but what can you do. The new places is really nice in a lot of ways- and needs fixing up in others. Also there´s a small problem with cockaroaches, but we´re getting that under control (not to worry anyone who is visiting, esp. renee and lynn!) Eli´s going to train our cat to eat them, and we have 2 cans of bug spray so we´re good. The place is a lot smaller, but its comfortable, and will be a lot more so once we get some furniture :-) The school bought us a big fridge (!!) a table, a 200L water tank, and a baby bath (I think its to store water...but its still not clear), a bed with a nice mattress, a TV and some dishes. We just had an electrician come over and get all our lights working again (including outdoor lights on our 2 porches) so that´s nice. We´re hoping for some wicker furniture and homemade seats later. The bathroom could use a lot of work but I guess we have 2 years to fix it up. It´s a lot more ´peace corps´, but its still an apartment with TV!
The harder things are that our sink does not have plumbing- we just have a bucket under the sink drain to catch the water, and we have to flush it every day. We have running water, but it only comes out of the bathtub faucet! And of course, there is no roof on the stairwell.

Last night was our neighbors daughers birthday. They were playing loud music and little kids were running around, having a good time. Our neighbor came to tell Eli she was sorry about the noise but it was her daughters birthday. When Eli asked if she was having a party, she said, oh no, just a lanche (snack). Well, that Lanche was still going strong at midnight, and they had definetly broken out the booze, and they may have had a DJ. I don´t think the lanche was just for the kids anymore. Anyways, our building seems to have a lot of character and friendly people so we´re excited about that. It should be interesting to meet everyone. I went out into the stairwell today because I heard a thump thumping sound, and was surprised to see someone with the big wooden pilao on the stairwell, grinding away at some peanuts! Its funny to see some of the traditional moçambican things going on in the stairwell.

On Friday our new empregada started as well. Her name is Rosa, she´s much older than our old empregada, and I think we both imediately liked her a lot more. She seems much more capable and I trust her a lot more- especially since she was recommended by our missionary friends.

Everything else is still going well. We went to the market yesterday for a few things for lunch and spent an hour talking to people. By now everyone there knows that we´re the white people trying to learn macua, so everyone tries to talk to us. Unfortunately, we can really only say basic things so we have almost the same conversation multiple times, but its a lot of fun. We´re buying from the same people over and over, and now they´re starting to give us bonuses :-) like free guavas or extra tomatoes. This last time we also bought a ´watermelon´ (although it was white and pink inside with red seeds, but still tasted good) and made a fruit salad. We wanted to know if it was red inside, to know if it was an american watermelon, so they cut a slice out of the side to show us! It was only a little pink, but they had cut it and then they dropped it, and we felt bad so we bought it (at a cheaper price since it had fallen). We also have oranges here, although they´re completely green- but still good to eat.

Speaking of food, we´re also making our own yogurt! Its experiments in microbiology. We had to sterilize all of our equipment, mix the new culture with the old starter culture, and incubate our yogurts in the oven. I think it turned out really well, although I dumped out a whole jar on accident because I had to get up at midnight to put the cultures in the fridge (hence I knew that the lanche was still going strong) and I was so tired I dropped a jar. Now we can use the yogurt as a sour cream substitute, or get fancy and put some fruit in it. We´ll see what happens. If it wasn´t against Peace Corps rules, I think we´d go into business selling it.

Keep the posts comming. Grandma, call my dad and ask how to post, then you can send me some of your recipes! Jim, thanks for your posts and updates of barcelona, keep them comming!
We´re looking forward to hearing from the rest of you. We´re off to correct our ACPs (Eli has over 350!)

paul and eli

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Return from our vacation

Hi everyone! Eli and I just got back from our trip to Inchope, which was a really good time! I have to say, Peace Corps treats you really well (and I´m not just saying that because Peace Corps also likes to read our blogs, hi dave!), we were staying in a nice hotel in Beira, got rides in the Peace Corps land cruiser, had snacks and good meals, and had AC at night.
We spent most of the time planning for fun stuff like the boys conference, which I´ll be doing in late april- more on that later, and a science fair that I want to start here. Also, Eli is working on a girls conference and she joined the volunteer advisory commitee.
While we were at the meeting, which was at a kind of tourist complex, one of the volunteers got bit by a baboon! It was a little bite, and luckily the peace corps doctors were also there (giving us the flu vaccine as it turns out, and warning us about bird flu). The complex keeps monkeys in cages, and one got loose. These same monkeys were splashing dirty water on people from inside the cage, so they were all around unpleasant.

Eli and I just got the keys to our new apartment, although we won´t be moving in for a week. They´re still cleaning it a little, and making some minor repairs. They´ve made a lot of progress, but I think Eli and I are going to have to take some matters into our own hands to get the place up to snuff.

More when more exciting things happen. I just want to say that we got several packages during the conference and it felt like christmas (in fact, some were from christmas!) Thanks for the books, food, calendars, contacts, and everything. We greatly appreciate it all. Até logo.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Beira Mar

Hi! I'm writing from the lobby of Hotel Mocambique in Beira! We flew in to Beira yesterday, with the four other PC Nampula people. Unfortunately everyone else is already at the meeting (which is in another city), and we're leaving today at 6:30am to join them. We should hopefully get mail, I'll let everyone know, but it feels like christmas eve.
Last night we went and saw an American movie, in English, at the movie theater in Beira, which was a lot of fun. The place was empty but the screen was big, and it felt like being back home. The movie might have been Just Like Heaven, but they renamed it in Portuguese and I forget exactly what it was. Anyways, we all liked it, and I don't know if thats because it was good or if we would have liked any American movie. We were the only people laughing in the theater, and I don't know if thats a cultural thing, or if we're the only ones who got the jokes.
Eli and I want to buy some books on Amazon.com but since we have no idea what's come out lately, we'd appreciate some suggestions- so post or email please :-)

After our trip this weekend we should be moving to the new apartment. They' ve been doing a lot of work on it, putting up new counters in the kitchen, new flooring, and painting (white and blue, eli says it looks mediteranean, and it does remind me of greece). We' re both pretty excited, and our missionary friends are recommending an empregada to us, so we should have someone to help us soon. It's been really tough these last two weeks doing all of our own housework and teaching! Work here takes a lot longer, since there's no machines to help you... wash by hand, cooking on the fire makes makes a lot of dirty dishes, then washing with out running water, you have to sweep twice a day, and cooking can take hours... we're already sick of doing housework and can't wait to have someone to help us!

In other news, our cat got into another fight- we let him outside since he really likes to roam- and it hasn't been a problem until this incident, when a cat came up to our house and I guess you could say, started the fight. The cats fought on top of our neighbors roof, and it looked like our cat might be losing until, in the middle of rolling around, the other cat fell of the roof! It was like a 12 foot drop. We were really relieved because surely that meant the fight was over, but then our cat jumped down after him to continue the fight...
in the end we had to rescue our cat from the neighbors yard. In the middle of the fight some people and a bunch of police showed up at the door, and I thought they were going to shoot our cat (or something) but they only wanted to say they were working on our power. Why the police were there I still do not know.

Take Care, send us letters,

paul and eli

Sunday, March 12, 2006


The new apartment and avacado ice cream

We have Novidades! There´s been a lot of interesting things going on lately- for starters, we´re pretty sure that we will be able to move into our new apartment on time- probobly this thursday. They´ve started working on it this saturday; we went over to see what was going on, and there were 6 people working construction and my pedagogical director (a good guy who´s the 12th grade bio teacher too) was there to control the situation. They´re doing a lot of work to this place, like putting mosquitoe nets over the balconies, windows, putting new doors on, painting, re-tiling the kitchen, putting cement on the floor, adding a new toilet, getting furniture, etc. So we´re really excited to see what it´ll look like when its done. During the day we could appreciate the view more too- it looks out towards the bay, although because it´s low it´s not a perfect view, but still a lot cooler than our current apartment´s! Eli says the balcony is the best part.
While we were there we noticed that the stairwell was a little wet, but also, curiously, pretty well lit, especially considering that Moçambican stairwells don´t have lights... so we went up another floor and looked up into the bright blue afternoon sky. So, the stairwell is open to the air, and I´m still not sure if that´s a feature or a defect. Apparently the roof blew off during a cyclone in ´93, and it´s never been repaired. They added a little cement ´patio´ in front of our door (it extends really far out into the hall, and I feel bad, like someone is going to trip over it) in order to keep water from getting into our house when it rains! I can just imagine water pouring down the stairwells like a water fall.
Eli says that it won´t be a problem because it hardly ever rains here in Nacala- and right now is technically the rainny season! As for the water situation- we actually have had running water for the last few days, although I don´t know how much longer that will last. The new house will also have running water (well, theoretically...) and indoor plumbing, and the school will get us some water tanks to keep in the house.
As for how trash removal works here... we just keep our trash in a bucket, which we empty every day or two in the local trash pit, which is the street, and it´s cleaned 3-4 times a week. Nacala is actually a really clean city, compared to other places we´ve been.

This weekend we had a school meeting where we learned that in 1 week (starting on the 20th), we have to give final exams (the ACP)! We´ve only had about 4 weeks of school so far, and we just recently gave tests to our classes. After the ACP, which is a whole week of testing and no classes, we will have 2 more weeks of class, and then a break. Although most likely students aren´t going to be comming to all these classes since the final exam will already be done...

Eli and I are really looking forward to cooking tonight... we just bought 4 lobsters (1 enormous, 1 normal, and 2 smalls, all for $10) and we´re going to be grilling the big daddy over an open flame tonight. Our neighbors helped us to prepare and marinade it, so it should be good! This big one is about 16 inches from head to tail, not counting appendages.

Since we´re moving so soon we´re trying to use up our extra energy (power here is pre-paid) so the other night I slept with a fan directly beside me and the AC on :-) Very nice. Surprised that we have AC? We´ve only just started using it, but this apartment is like an old luxery apartment, it has a lot of nice features. Also, the AC doesn´t work too well because one of our windows is broke (no glass, only a mosquitoe net), so its kind of wastefull. To use it now we cover it with a curtain.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the other day I made what will be the first of many batches of Avacado Ice Cream :-) Basically it´s just sweatened condensed milk and avacado, frozen, but its really good- if you can get over the funky green texture.

P.S. To answer some of Janet´s questions about family structure, etc. we´ll need to use a whole new blog entry, since it´s fairly complex here- matrilineal society- but we will get to it!

Hope everyone´s doing well, please keep sending us messages. Also recipies for cookies, shrimp and fish dishes are welcome. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


A day in the life...

... here´s a ´normal´ day (for me at least), and as normal as things get here :-)

Wake up at 5 am for classes, at which point the sun is already comming up and it is hot hot hot! (Only the breeze keeps us cool here, and that doesn´t pick up until later!) At this point I have to feed the cat his xima and fish, or he drives me crazy with his meowing. As a side note, I saw the neighbors empregados eating almost the same meal of xima and fish that we feed our cat, for their lunch today. We have one lucky kitty.
I boil water for my bucket bath, then water for Milo (lwhich is ike hot chocolate with vitamins) that Eli and I will then drink with powdered milk. Eli swears the powdered milk is better than real milk, so you can see what kind of effect Peace Corps is having on us already.
I head out for school by 6:15 if I have early classes, and since I´m wearing long pants, shoes and my shirt is tucked in, I´m sweating buckets by the time I reach school- which is an uphill hike. Once there I throw on my lab coat (bata) and start teaching- usually 2-5 classes. (Eli does 4-5 every day).
Classes are only 45min. but they usually come in a duplo- 2 classes back to back. We only have 3 classes a week with each group of kids, so it´s really not that much time! Anyways after teaching, I head back home, then rest in front of the fan and drink a lot of water to recover.
We fired our empregada yesterday, for various reasons, but usually she or Eli would start to make something small for lunch, like a salad, or rice and fish in a coconut curry sauce... And right after lunch Eli goes to school.
In the afternoons I get some Portuguese tutoring from one of the teachers (actually he´s an english teacher, although I usually can´t understand his english, and he has to write things down). Thats not helping as much as I wish... but he´s too nice for me to get rid of him now.
Eli and I usually make a trip to the market to get some food for dinner, which is always interesting, because we try to speak some Macua while we´re there. Also, we´re getting to know some of the market vendors and they´re really friendly. Then it´s usually my job to start the coal stoves (the coal here is preburned chunks of wood, it´s kind of an interesting way to cook) while Eli cuts up and prepares whatever food. We do a lot of grilled fish and chicken, pasta dishes and some seafood and rice things. I had tried to get into the peanut sauce things by buying that giant wooden pilao (that I mentioned in an earlier blog) but the inside part grew a thick green mat of fungus so I´ve taken a break from that recently. Eli and I are actually getting to be really good cooks!
We also have to spend a lot of time in the afternoons lesson planning and napping, thats part of the job. As you can see most of what we do is eat and work. Also playing with the cat takes a lot of the afternoon, as does listening to the MP3 player (books on tape are wonderful!). Its usually so hot outside- although today was only 90 degrees, the sun is intense here- so we don´t just go out and wander.
A lot of times we get visits from people selling wood carvings or vegetables door to door which is usually interesting.

Also, good news- we´ve got a new house! We´ll be moving in like 10 days or so. It´s almost as close to our current house as possible, just across the street, and much much smaller, but it should be nice. It´s only 30% of the cost of the current house, so the school is happy and they said they will be spending some money to get it fixed up and maybe get us a fridge (we hope!). It has a little balcony facing the bay, although as its only on the 2nd floor I don´t think we´ll get a view of anything. Still, we´re both really excited!

Also, we´ll be traveling on the 17th to a Peace Corps meeting, which will be fun and we should get mail! In April, I will be going to Inhambane for a week for a boys conference, and will be bringing 2 boys and a fellow teacher with me to learn about HIV/AIDS , leaderships skills and awareness, so that should be interesting. Keep us posted on how things are back home!


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Well! Having realized that nothing showed up from the last blog but the title, I guess it´s been a long time without any news. We´re doing well and just finished our first month of teaching!! This last week was an exam week- or ACS as they call it here (ACP is the end of the trimester exam, much bigger).

Eli made the mistake of trying to grade her students entire notebook as part of the ACS grade, instead of just a single test, so she´s spent the last 4 days grading 2 tons of notebooks, or 200 students books. The kids also had to write a biography for the test, but most of the ones that I read made absolutely no sense to me.

I also gave ACS´s, and it was a huge headache! We´d been warned by all the other PCV´s we talked to during training that students here will cheat like crazy- and é verdade! With one of my tenth grade classes things were out of control- I think every single kid in the room was cheating, and I even kicked one kid out! (Not only did I catch the kid with his notebook open in his lap, but I change the order of the questions for every class, and he had his answers in the same order as the last class´s test!). I would write something on the board, and when I turned around the whole class would be looking at their cheat sheets under the desks.

We´ve been talking a lot about moving, and the plans seems to change every day, but we might be going to either a) an apartment kind of far away from the school but pretty well integrated or b) a more ritzy place really close to our current apartment, but that would only be a 3 month leaes while we look for even cheaper places near the school.

Today Eli and I went to the house of one of our friends from the market (the bean merchant to be exact), and had a great cultural experience! He lives in one of the bairros outside of the main city, which is a lot more lively and interesting! We walked around, visited a local school and had a drink, and then went to his house for dinner. We felt bad because he asked us if we wanted rice or xima, and we said xima because we don´t usually eat that (it´s like a flour paste). So his wife made that for us, although we learned later that she had already made the rice.
It was really interesting because it was very ´mozambican´, we had a big pile of xima each and shared a grilled chicken. To show me that the food was good our host reached over and ate some of my xima (we all ate with our hands). We also had a fish sauce to dip the xima in.

Overall it was a lot of fun, and a really good experience. It was fun to get a more rural experience. He also said he was looking forward to meeting Renee and Lyn and has already invted you to his house for xima and fish!

Hope everyone is well, hope you all is gut in deutchland mom and dad!

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