Thursday, April 27, 2006


I´m out of shape

Thats true. I´m really out of shape, and it´s really obvious because I´ve started playing basketball every evening at the ferroviario- the local basketball court. There´s pick-up games that usually have 10-15 guys playing for 1.5 hours. It´s fun because they always let me into the games right away, and even when we´re rotating teams and my team is out they often let me substitute and play in. The only thing is I´m really bad compared to them- they all play every night and I´m ready for a break after 4 laps around the court.
Still its been fun, and a really good way to meet people. A lot of the guys are my age or a little older, and really friendly. They all want to learn english, and try to say things to me during the game, which can sometimes be funny, although sometimes they´re not so funny... like when they tell me, at an apropriate moment- ´white men can´t jump.´ Yes, its true.

Everything else is going well. Monday is a holiday (May 1st) and maybe tuesday is well, although apparently we don´t know for sure yet, or why. We just had our bathroom retiled, which was nice, and got a peep hole thing put into our door. $1 for the peep hole, $1 to get it intalled. And I demorrared (delayed) because I was worried about the price. It comes in handy when we have people knocking on our door in the middle of the night, trying to sell us makonde art (the carved black wood stuff that I´m addicted too buying- ask Eli for details, she would love to talk about it :-). They also sell lots of things made of Ivory and tortoise shell here, which I´d love to buy, but can´t imagine supporting something where they kill animals, especially since I´m a ´biologist´. I´m having a chess set made and I really wanted peices made out of black wood and ivory, but couldn´t bring myself to do it.

We´re going to Nampula this weekend to meet the parents of our Macua teacher. We may stay the night at his house (?) we don´t know yet. But it could be a very interesting experience. Then I´ll be in Nampula on sunday to go to the craft market, where they sell lots of makonde art cheap :-)

Mpaka logo

Friday, April 21, 2006


More boys conference

I´ve been having fun at the boys conference, the other day we started working on our microprojects, which is a whole new direction from the HIV/AIDS and gender classes. The idea is that the students learn about a type of project here, and when they go back to Nacala they can start a project of their own. They´re even shown how to apply for money for their projects, filling out paperwork and everything, which is then fast-tracked to get them about $300. My kids choose murals (well, they chose theater and I made them switch to murals- not because I´m pushy but at the last minute I found out the school already had a theater group). Its been fun, we got to paint a mural on the inside of a local PCV´s house. Its the kind of project I´d be excited to participate in, and I´m hoping my kids take it seriously and get a mural group up and running.

Last night we had a talent show, which was 1 mini theater presentation and 13 lip sync song/dance things. It was fun for me because I got to judge, and we gave pretty nice prizes to the top 3 winners (1st place got more than I earn in a day!) The school we´re at has a really nice auditorium with speakers and microphones, and the kids were really into it. At the end I got up on stage to announce the winners; they wanted to shake my hand and get a hug, then make long speaches thanking people. It was a good time. The only downer was that afterwords, someone´s phone got stolen, and there was a search of every kids bag in the place. The phone was never found, and the kids kept us up half the night with all the noise.

Today I had some free time so I decided to walk down to the market. My students saw me and asked if they could go, so I ended up going with 4 students. We spent a while walking around the market at inhambane, which is pretty touristy and had a lot of crafts (although things which I can buy for $4 in Nampula were $40 here!). While we were walking back one of the kids asked if I wanted to see a statue of Vasco de Gama, a portuguese explorer. He took us to a field behind the police station, which was full of broken buses and piles of cinder blocks. There, completely hidden from view, was a really big old stone statue. My students said it had been sent over from Portugal. I have no idea why it was hidden like that, it was the kind of thing that you usually find in the middle of the town square. Anyways, these things happen....

Tomorrow I travel back to Nacala, but it may be a 2-3 day trip, depending on connections. Then we will start with the 2nd trimester. Take care,


Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Inhambane, Conselhos and Craziness

It´s been a while without a post, and thats entirely because Eli and I have been so busy lately! (Also, the computer is just a pain to use sometimes). We just finished conselho de nota last week, which is where you record the students grades. I always thought that teachers just submited their grades to the school secretary, who put them into a computer, printed off some report cards and mailed them out. (I´m probobly not close at all, which shows how much attention I payed as a student). Let me remind you that in Nacala, our secretaries have type writers, not computers. The teachers tabulate all the grades for their students by hand. It is a very complicated system. Unlike in the US the students are divided up into turmas, or classes that remain fixed through out the year (for example, within 10th grade there is 10A-10J and they never have classes with kids from other turmas, even though they may be in the same year). Each turmas has a director- or director de turma. I happen to be director of 11C, which has 91 kids.

During conselhos there is a lot of work to do for each turma, so they break it down into jobs. I was the president for my turma, I had 2 secretaries and a vocal. The vocal reads out the grades from all disciplines, the secretaries are each copying the grades onto two pautas (a gaint grade sheet) and I copy the grades into the grade book, or livro de turma, for the class. We have to go through and do the grades for all 91 students in every subject. In pencil. Then we double check, and if its good, go over it in pen. Then I have to copy all of the grades that the student recieved for the year into their personal file. After that I calculate the percentage of pass-fail for men and women, then get all the teachers to initial the stats for their discipline. I also need signatures for every person that worked on the pauta. Finally, I have to write a cover sheet detailing when were and who worked on the pautas. Yup. It was a fun time. I also was secretary for someone elses turma. Eli, who is not a director of turma, just had to give grades to other teachers, but that was complicated because a lot of times teachers didn´t show up when they were supposed to. We were also really worried that they would change our grades, because some teachers were talking about having a minimum grade of 7. I gave several 4´s and 5´s (out of 20) because I just don´t believe in changing grades. I figure if other kids in the turma can get a 17, its a fair class.

Quick story: Eli and I were at home the other day when a fisherman showed up at our door. He was selling lulas (squid), and he had them strung up on a line. We bought 10 big squid for $2! Easily enough for 3 meals with leftovers. It is very cheap (and tasty).

Ok, so now I am in Inhambane for the boys conference. It´s very interesting. Some weird stuff has gone on, such as the students demanding that we give them a subsidy. I´m not having a bad time, but the atmosphere is a little odd. We did go to the beach today, and everyone had a great time, although it rained on us a little. The surf here is really strong and it´s a good time to play in the water. More later on this, since I´m still here.

As for Eli, she´s going to the IST (in service training) this week. She has certainly had an intersting adventure and I will let her tell it when she has a chance. Hope everyone is doing well.


Sunday, April 09, 2006


More Dia da Mulher

I always think of a ton of things to write on the blog, but as soon as I sit in front of the computer I forget everything. Anyhow, I wanted to quickly tell you about the Dia da Mulher Moçambicana (April 7th). Last week I talked to some of my students about starting a girls club, and organizing something for April 7th. So, about 10 of them were interested, and decided to march to the main city square. As Paul said, everything was delayed (very normal for Mozambique), but we had a good time. After that the school director took us all for lunch, which was a big surprise for everyone (for Paul and I it was a great time to get to know the director and the ped directors - we all laughed a lot about the fact that Paul and I had never cooked with coals!). I had to give two public speeches for this girls club, and you all know me with public speaking, but on top of that, they were suprise speeches: the director just called me up and told me to say something!
I'm very excited about this girls club, I think it will be good for the girls and for the school in general. As of now, we only have vague ideas of what to do (dances, football games, debates, etc), but there's a lot of potential. I will keep you posted as things progress.
Also, Paul and his ped director are organizing a science fair at the school (we are hoping that eventually it will get to the provincial level). We're gonna set up the computers at the school, which have been in boxes for THREE YEARS!!!! Hopeuflly by the end of this week, they will be up and running in the school "library". So, a lot of new cool stuff is going on here (the school is also getting windows put in in one classroom).
ANyway, I hope all is good. Rory, I saw Eli's picture finally, she looks sooo cute!! SEnd me more pix!!

Friday, April 07, 2006


Dia de Mulher Moçambicana

Today is the Dia de Mulher Moçambicana, which is a womans holiday (day of the mozambican woman). Eli just created a girls club and we were planning on meeting up at the school at 7am to march to the praça (the town plaza) to join the festivities. Eli even got matching capulanas and pants made for all the members of her girls club- (there are almost as many boys as girls hence the pants!). Its a good thing that she made the girls club, because they were just about the only people to show up for the march! But we went, marched a little then caught a chapa to the praça. The ceremony took a little while to start, and once it did, it fell even farther behind schedule because of all the speaches. Eventaully we left for a restaurant, where the school director bought lunch for everyone who had come, and then Eli, I, the school director and two pedagogical directors sat and drank and ate for a few hours just chatting. Overall it was pretty fun, and worthwhile.
Eli probobly has a lot that she wants to say since this is about her girls club so I´ll keep it brief.
The only other news is that we´ve finished with the first trimester, and on monday we start with conselho de notas, or recording students grades, which is supposed to be a heck of a lot more complicated than anything in the US, since it´s all done by hand. Plus there are some options for changing students grades after the fact. I´m ´president´ of a class which means I´m in charge of running the record keeping for that class (I don´t know anymore than you do at this point, I´ll have to update the blog when I learn what I´m supposed to do!!).
We have 2 weeks of holidays before the next trimester which will be nice! As for now, we´re working on puzzles, getting more furniture for our house, and eating a lot of biscoti (the mozambican pastries that are like mini flour pretzels). Thanks for the recipies that have been sent so far, we appreciate them! Adeus,


Sunday, April 02, 2006


Eli the Builder

Eli and I just finished with a major construction project. We built a counter with shelves on our balcony today (it´s a covered balcony where we do all of our cooking). Since we had NO counterspace in the whole house it seemed like a pretty important thing to do. We went out and bought 16 cinder blocks, a bag of cement, a trowel and I had a carpenter make 2 boards for a counter and a shelf, then we mixed our cement, placed our blocks and did a pretty haphazard but hopefully decent job of stacking them and laying the board on top. We still need to add a little cement and paint, but so far so good. Next weekend we might build a roof over the stairwell.

Eli wants me to point out that since nobody has sent us any recipes, despite our pleas- we´re forced to eat things like egg sandwiches (just an egg on a peice of bread) for lunch, and tuna sandwiches for dinner. Although on Friday we had chicken, which was kind of a fun change. Especially since I got to go to market and pick it out, carry it home, and then give it to my empregada, so she could throw some sand on the floor then cut its throat in the kitchen. We let her do all the dirty work, but she killed cleaned and cut up a chicken on our floor. It actually tasted pretty good, but the head feet and some of the internal organs got tossed into the cook pot too. So, if you have chicken recipes, please send those too.

We have one more week of school, then break- although already the majority of students and teachers are taking vacation. I´m not even sure if I have 1 or 2 days left with each class (I´m getting conflicting information from some of my students, whom I´m not quite sure I can trust).
Anyways. After that we have IST, which is in service training, and should be a lot of fun.

For those of you with free/cheap fed-ex possibilites, we´ll be getting mail at the IST (in 2 weeks) so it´s a good time to mail stuff ;-)

Yesterday we got a handmade couch ($6), made from wood and rope. It´s actually pretty nice, and it´ll be even nicer once we´ve got some pillows on it. Our house is slowly becoming normal.

**We saw that Barcelona´s jerseys became yellow, when did that happen? **

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