Monday, August 28, 2006


Happy Birthday (almost!) to me

Hi! Im on my way back from the regional meeting in Chimoio and staying the night tonight in Beira (sorry about the lack of apostrophes, this is a chinese keyboard, dont ask why). Eli just found out that her dentist appointment has been delayed until Thursday! She is going to be stuck in Maputo for a few days with nothing to do (except go out to nice restaurants and see movies I guess...) and she wont be with me on my birthday tomorrow!

Anyways, the regional meeting went really well for me, Im not sure how it was for Eli because I have her cell phone with me and it doesnt work to talk, only for sending messages. But I did hear it was cold and rainy down there! Its sad because they were at a nice place on the beach. It was also cold and rainy for me here in Chimoio, which is pretty bad too because its getting hot in Nacala and I didnt bring ANY cold weather clothes.

No other big news except that I turn 23 tomorrow and nobody will be able to call me since Eli has the phone! For my birthday I will be giving the kibby some cat toys and a new flea coller, but there wont be a party or anything. Hope alls well,


Monday, August 21, 2006


some pix 2 go with the last post

A view of the Nacala Bay and some houses, near our school.

The so called Kibby sleeping on MY clothes.


Cat Calls

Mozambicans aren`t really into pets, but I think our house worker is starting to grow fond of our kitty (or kibby, as she- and us now too- calls him). At least, she is starting to respect the cat as an intelligent animal. She was highly impressed that he knew how to use the litter box we had set up for him. She was even more impressed though when, one morning last week, he tried to answer our phone! We were both out of the house, but here`s the story she animatedly told us when we got back: When our cell phone, laying on the kitchen table, started ringing and vibrating, the cat came running, jumped on the table, and tried to answer it. Not being able to answer the phone with his paws, he knocked it off the table and onto a chair. Still trying to answer the phone, the cat jumps down onto the chair as well, put since he has paws he just knocks it around some more. She then tells us about how she once saw a movie where a dog took a ringing phone in its mouth to give to its owner. She hadn`t believed it when she saw it, but now she knew that it was true- cats and dogs can answer the phone!
What was really funny for us was her sincerity in believing the cat was trying to answer the phone, and how excited she got when she told us the story.

This Thursday Eli and I will be going to the Peace Corps regional meetings, which will take a week including travels. I`m going to stay in the north (in Chimoio) and Eli is going to Maputo because she`s also going to a dentist appointment. But she`s pretty lucky because her regional meeting is going to be at a beach resort! Anyways, it`ll be a nice break for us and a chance to see a lot of people that we don`t get to see very often.

This weekend we had a taco and movie party at our house, and the other 3 volunteers in the province came over, as well as one volunteer from Madagascar, named Lindsey. She finished her time in Madagascar (plus a stint in Morocco) and was traveling all over Africa. It was interesting to hear about some of the other Peace Corps programs, since her environmental tourism projects were quite different than our education programs.

Welcome home to my sister Julie, who just got back to the US after a year abroad in Germany and a job at a soccer camp in Hungary! Also welcome to my parent`s host daughter, Nina, who`s going to be at their house for about a year and comes from eastern Europe (the details escape me).

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Super Mario, Zelda, and Lost- all in Mozambique!

Yesterday Eli and I spent the day watching DVDs and playing Mario 64 (actually Eli prefers tetris), and it just didn`t feel like peace corps! How strange, now that we have Eli`s computer, we can watch DVDs or download emulators online that let us play console games on the computer, it feels a little more like home. Speaking of DVDs, our missionary friends just let us borrow the first season of Lost, and all I can say is WOW! We had never watched or even heard much about Lost back home, but we got really addicted to the first season.
Also we`re about a week into computer classes now (Eli is going to start giving them 2 days a week starting this coming week). I`ve realized that it`s going to be a lot harder than I originally thought. Last week I had my first trial group of 8 students go. The course was supposed to last 2 days, but on the third day and after over 7 hours of classes many of the kids were still struggling to open folders (DOUBLE click!!). They`re supposed to take a `test` to show what they`ve learned at the end, and part of the test is exactly like one of the practice exercises they do on the first day, but somehow only 1 or 2 out of 8 kids remembers what to do. It`s a little frustrating, so Eli and I are going to try and find new methods for teaching, and maybe make the courses a little longer. I have over 100 kids on my wait list to learn on only 4 computers… it`s going to be a busy trimester!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


More Pix

Here are some more pix of the murals my kids did at school- some of the finished products! (Sorry for the delay Renée!) The very first picture is the first mural they did, and I consider it a sort of ´warm up mural´. They are planning on painting some more in the next few weeks, and also maybe painting a big world map somewhere!

I recently did something that you only get to see in movies: I kicked down a door. My own front door at that, and THIS IS THE SECOND TIME I`ve done it. We seem to have really weird luck with locks. Luckily peace corps is going to let us have a carpenter put in new wood around the door frame and 2 brand new locks, so we shouldn`t have this problem again, but Eli and I seem to get locked out of our own house a lot (locked out because the keys don`t work!)

Last weekend Eli and I went for a walk around the bay, just following the beach. We made about a 3.5 hour round trip walk- coming back a little early because of the heat. Around Nacala city the beach is nothing to rave about, it`s a little polluted and there`s a lot of warehouses and people associated with the port. But as you go out a little ways you get back into nature pretty quickly. There were still people and paths where we were, but not as many, and we were entering some areas with very few if any other people, which was kind of nice. The edge of the beach started turning into a mangrove wetland, the baobob trees start to appear, and you can hear tons of birds (although seeing them was trickier, despite my best efforts). The next time we go out we´re going to try and push a little farther and get more into the wilderness.

This last week I`ve started teaching my computer classes more seriously- having 3 day courses (supposed to be 2 originally but it takes a LONG time to teach some of this stuff!). It`s really hard with people who have never really seen a computer before, and where everything is new- plus for me to explain in Portuguese is a little harder because I`m not sure of all the computer vocab, plus it`s all new vocabulary to them, so they can`t help. Also we have 4 computers and 100 kids on the wait list for classes so…. As you can imagine it’s a lot of work! Eli is thinking of giving classes in the mornings too, although since that would mean GETTING UP early, I have my doubts!

Hope all`s well back home.

Top Left: A view of Nacala city from farther down the Bay, Top Right: Me looking for birds. This part of the Bay is getting a lot more ´wildernessy´. Bottom Left: Eli under a Baobob tree! Baobob and Acacia are the two famous types of African trees that we have around here.

Friday, August 04, 2006



Hello everyone!

Last week two of my students, two students from Monapo and I went to the Girl’s Conference near Chimoio (in the Centre of Moz). Overall it went really well. We left on Sunday and flew down (none of the girls had ever been on a plane, so they all got sick!). We stayed in Casa Msika, which is a beautiful “resort”, on a river (that looks like a lake) and mountains in the background (for us Nampula folks it was a big change in scenery, considering, we don’t have mountains or big rivers!). There were about 55 girls from 8 provinces in Mozambique, 2 female Mozambican med students (they were great!),10 Peace Corps volunteers (all women, except for one guy), and about 10 female Mozambican teachers. Throughout the week we had a bunch of speakers come in: people from the Ministry of Education, NGO workers, a young woman living with HIV, people from different women’s group and the founder of the Human Rights League (a really cool woman). They talked about different things, ranging from HIV/AIDS to how to use a tampon (that was a funny session). Besides the speakers, we had activities dealing with sex/gender, future goals, relationships, women’s rights… When there wasn’t a speaker, volunteers led the sessions. Since each province had a specific day, Nampula and Tete did a session on “future goals.” We had the girls draw what they wanted their future to be like (so for example, some wanted to be doctors, so they drew a hospital, others wanted to have a big house or play football, etc). I think it went pretty well.
I think one of the highlights was the Human Rights speaker. She was really well-spoken, and spoke to the girls like adults (which really impressed them). She told them how she had to quit school because there was no money, so she first worked really hard until she could afford to finish school (she was in the 30s when she finished secondary school). Eventually she got a scholarship to go to University; from there she got an opportunity to go to Europe where she learned about the Human Rights League, so when she came back to Mozambique she worked to start an office here. This was in the early 90s, and since then she’s been fighting for Human Rights in Mozambique. She’s a really cool lady!
Anyhow, I’m not gonna bore you all with details, but overall the conference went really well, and I’m sure all the girls will remember it. But before I say good-bye, I have some exciting news: I’m gonna be a big part in organizing next year’s conference! There are three main people organizing the conference, two deal with logistics (location, speakers, food, transport, etc) and one deals with money (the conference and projects have a 25,000 dollar budget – which in Mozambique is a HUGE amount of money). Anyhow, I’m gonna be the money person! I’m pretty happy, and somewhat nervous, but Alex (this year’s money guru) promised to tell me all her secrets.
Aight, gotta go. I hope everyone is doing well (I hope the camino is treating Ivy and Rob well). Miss you all!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Why we need a vacation after the school break

Today is only the second day of the third (and last) trimester of school this year. The last two weeks have been ferias, or school break. Of course, as teachers we don´t get a whole 2 weeks off- the first week is spent doing grades, and during this break, proctoring national exams as well. To keep a long and boring story short I will summarize the duty of proctoring exams as follows: It takes a very long time, and it is very boring. If you´re imagining 8 kids taking a test in a room being proctored by two teachers, both of which must sign the students test and check the students ID multiple times during the test, then you are accurately imagining what we did for a whole week.

But that was just the prelude to a really great school break. Eli had been planning for a long time to go to the 2nd annual girls conference in Manica province (somewhere to the south and near Zimbabwe). The 1st girls conference was a huge success and the inspiration for the boys conference. Like the boys conference it was totally organized by PCVs and talked about HIV/AIDS and gender things (you practically have to, to get funding). Eli took 4 girls to the conference, 2 from Nacala and 2 from Monapo.

I also went down to Manica- I had a ride in a private car lined up to take me down (about a 3 day trip!) so I bought a one way plane ticket to come back up. Unfortunately at the last minute my ride fell through, so I had to buy a round trip ticket, but that meant that I got to fly both ways with Eli and her girls. It was a good flight, but none of those four students Eli took had ever flown before. At first it was kind of funny when they couldn´t figure out the seat belts, but things got a lot less funny when they all got air sick and had to run to the bathroom to be sick (somehow the airplane had no barf bags so I was pretty nervous when they were sick). We had made sure to give them window seats, but I think having a view didn´t help them any.

We all flew to Beira and got a Girls Conference rented van to Chimoio- I just tagged along J I got left in Chimoio to find my way to another PCVs house and Eli took her girls to the conference in nearby casa msika.

I spent that week with a bunch of other PCVs who were nice enough to let me stay in their houses, feed me and show me around. Most of my time was spent in the cities of Chimoio, Catandica, and Manica. Manica is really close to the girls conference, so one day the country director picked us up and took us there to spend some time and have lunch.

The volunteers in Manica are working on building a hot tub in their front yard, and I have no doubt it will be a first class hot tub- they have already built day beds, installed ´running´ water and made a zen rock garden. After coming back from their house I was inspired to build a shelf in my kitchen, after which Eli took away my hammer and said in a very loud voice ¨You are NOT a handy man. You have no idea what you are doing. STOP NOW before you break something!¨ So I haven´t built anything else, but my 1 shelf is really nice.

Manica is famous for some really old cave paintings- the whole area is part of the rift valley which is supposedly the origin of humanity, so here´s some pix of both the paintings and my friends school as seen from the mountain in his back yard, and a picture of casa msika on the bottom. Sorry, the pix are comming out a little wierd. Also, I took two sets of batteries and they both died during my first day there, so there aren´t many pix!

After Manica I traveled north to Catandica. Its supposed to be about 2.5 hours north of chimoio although we made the trip in 6. Our chapa broke down repeatedly- at first it was every hour, then every 20 minutes, then every 5 minutes, until we got to the point were immediately after fixing it, it would break down. So we did what any good peace corps volunteers would do, considering that night was falling, it was freezing cold, and we still had a ways to travel. We started a bonfire on the side of the road and waited for a new chapa to pick us up, which, thanks to the bonfire, didn´t take too long.

Catandica is one of those little towns that mainly serves as a truck stop. Somehow, despite this, it has been selected by the world bank to receive a brand new, model school. They just finished building a beautiful, new, modern school in Catandica, complete with new teachers housing, which is where the PCV in catandica lives. Every classroom there has ceiling fans, they have a computer lab, sports facilities, you name it. It’s a really nice school! The teachers housing came with a fridge and stove, hot showers, and everything.

Catandica is also a town in the mountains, and there´s a relic from the Portuguese nearby called the Pool. I went to check it out one day, and it´s a natural waterfall, rock slide, and little water pool up in the base of the mountains. The interesting thing is that once upon a time it had been a major hang out for the Portuguese, there were the ruins of little snack shops, a fancy stone bridge, and old tables which had sunk into the ground. There were changing rooms (now empty, with no roof, and falling apart), and little benches that were crumbling. It was still a pretty area, but now little kids were using the pool and natural rock slides to wash their clothes and nobody was swimming. A lot of Mozambique is like this.

Back in Casa Msika Eli was having a great time. She filmed a lot of it and is going to make a little video. She wants to blog about it herself, so I´ll save it for her.

Anyways, the whole conference was more work than play for Eli because she had to be a chaperone and help with the sessions, and I´m just tired because I traveled all over the place. Now that schools started again we both feel that we need a vacation. Fortunately, our students seem to agree about needing more vacation since they haven´t really come to the first day of class, which makes our jobs easier.
In other news, we recently had some work done in our kitchen (no not by me, Eli doesn´t trust me not to break things). We had our kitchen sink hooked up to the buildings plumbing so it doesn´t have to drain into a bucket anymore. I watched the work being done and had to wonder what my grandpa, who was a plumber, would think if he saw what was going on. The guys doing the work didn´t have any of the right pieces of tubing, they just cut apart a PCV tube to make the right lengths, then put it over a coal fire to get it soft when they needed to bend it. When two pieces had to be stuck together, they went back to the fire and heated them up again. After they got all the pipes assembled and found that it leaked, they tore apart plastics bags to wrap the joints with. Then they cemented around that. I´m not sure how long the situation will last, but the sink does drain. I guess I shouldn´t complain since we ended up paying about 8 dollars for all of the work that they did on the sink.

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