Thursday, February 15, 2007


I Love the Smell of Dried Fish in the Morning!

It’s not exactly Folgers in your Cup, but it does wake you up [actually, it wakes me up, but Paul can sleep through anything!]. We can usually tell what they are cooking at school without having to leave the house. Of course, since they usually cook the same thing every day, it’s not very hard to guess. Everything in Ile is going well, but our housing situation is getting on our nerves. We have actually gotten used to the noise of 250 kids eating in front of our house 3 times a day (it helps that we watch TV on the computer at night while they eat dinner), although the lack of privacy is also getting on our nerves. We also just learned that the director will probably not be leaving to study in another city, but will stay in town and do a learn from a distance program.

Anyways. My classes are going well, and so are Eli’s, for the most part our kids are well behaved. We only have one class that seems difficult, and I blame it on the fact that they don’t have desks and the chalk board is rough like sand paper (large grain) so it’s hard to read anything we write on the board. Eli is just starting to teach her history classes, so it’s too early to tell if she’s overloading herself (although my guess is that with 800 students the answer is yes). On her busiest day she has to teach nine 45 minute classes.

With one of our Mozambican teachers we have created an HIV/AIDS group at school, which so far seems like a good group of kids. We’ve only had one official meeting, but from that they have worked on a theater piece to do at school on Valentine’s Day, as well as making a lot of pictures and poems (with our markers and crayons) advocating abstinence, etc. to put up around school for the 14th. It’s a good start and we hope to do a lot of things with the group. Hopefully we’ll each be able to send students to the boys’ and girls’ conferences like we did last year. I still have a plan to paint a giant world map mural at the school and color code the countries by HIV/AIDS rates (this was one of my plans for Nacala, I’m transferring it to Ile now).

Other interesting news: this Saturday Ile is supposedly getting an American doctor, which will be really interesting for us. On Sunday the missionaries are having a lunch party for her (that’s the plan at least) so we’ll get to know her then. Some of the missionaries have already met her, and one of them thinks she said she was from Michigan, but I suspect that she saw my MSU hat and got Michigan from that. Anyways, it’ll be nice to have another American in town and perhaps she’ll let me do some work with AIDS patients. I am assuming that she’s here to do AIDS work, and I’ll be surprised if she’s not.

Everything is going well and we’re enjoying ourselves. Hope everyone back home is doing well.

Paul and Eli
And I just have this kids picture to show that we're not the only people in Ile from Michigan! (Anyways, the kid has a 1986 fiesta bowl [whatever that is] t-shirt).

Thursday, February 08, 2007


some pix for the last post

Here are some pix I've taken recently- the one on the left is a house for goats- the school will be keeping 10-12 of them in here and then the students will eat them occasionaly with their chima (see below). On the right is a rainbow over ile, I guess it's fairly self explanatory. The little brick buildings in the foreground with two openings each are bathrooms.


living on an island

Only two weeks have passed since we returned to Ile from the conference in Maputo, but it seems like months. It´s strange; the complete lack of communication makes living in Ile feel like living on an island. We can´t even communicate with nearby Peace Corps Volunteers, which can sometimes be tricky. When we got back to Zambezia Province we invited all the other PCVs in the area to come visit us the next Friday and Saturday, but once we got to Ile we had no way to know if they were going to show up or not. Someone did show up on Sat. night, then we found out that other people had tried to come, gotten stranded at a cross roads for 4 hours, then turned back, and the third group of PCVs had a teachers meeting and didn´t make it.

It´s a reminder of how hard transportation can be here. It´s funny, when we first came to Mozambique and lived in Boane we thought the transportation was really bad- crowded, slow, public transportation, somewhat irregular… compared to what we have up here in the north of Moz though, that was a dream! Getting anywhere is a major challenge, despite the fact that the major national highway runs right through Ile! (The road forks just below Ile, going to the the major northern cities- still pretty small places). You can wait for hours before getting a ride here, and that´s if you don´t mind being in the back of an open pick up truck or a semi-covered (metal roll bars, seats, and covered by a plastic tarp) truck. So far we´ve gotten lucky with getting front seat spots in open-back trucks, since we´re not allowed by Peace Corps to go in the back of an open car… Also, we´ve been able to get rides with people in town who have cars, or the hospital ambulance (since I fix some of their computer problems!) or the Germany missionaries.

Speaking of, today I am in Mocuba- the next major town to the south- about a 3 ½ hour trip, although it´s only about 50 miles, because the road is so bad. Eli had to stay and teach, but this is my day off and I´m going to take advantage of the Germans´ generous ride to get a refrigerator, some bikes, and a load of other things here in Mocuba. So no more cooking every single meal, or eating everything we make because we can´t keep left overs and hello cold drinks. Speaking of food, we´ve been eating a LOT of pasta these days, that and tuna sandwiches. We have a way of making tuna and avocado sandwiches that comes out pretty good. Right now we´re in the middle of avocado season and there are avocados everywhere. A giant avocado costs about 4 cents. We are eating about 3 large avocados a day here, and that´s because we´re exerting a lot of self control. Our german friends have 3 avocado trees at their house and every time we visit them they give us a sack full! (Eli is eating an avocado as I write this). We usually mash them up and sprinkle sugar on them and have ´em for dessert, but we do occasionally make guacamole and eat it on crackers.
(Does anyone know any other ways to eat an avocado?) Anyways, my dad would be very jealous J

School officially started on January 29th – that was the day of the opening ceremony which started an hour and a half late and lasted 3 hours, during which many important things were discussed such as the exact number of books for every discipline which we have in the library (both this year and last year), which actually didn´t take too long because there are very, very few books of any value there. Also, school uniforms were discussed (sometimes in local language, which we are only now learning a few new words) at length. It turns out they are the same as last year, no changes, but that was discussed at length. Also, the rights and responsibilities of students and teachers was read, while we sat in the heat.

Classes were supposed to start the next day, but it took a week before things really got started. By really got started I mean before students or teachers started showing up to classes at all. This is no real surprise to us, after last year. So we only really started teaching this week (and even then things aren’t running very smoothly). Today the person in charge of ringing the bell forgot to do so about half the time and nobody’s classes were on time (the school bell is a rusty tire frame hanging from a mango tree), so it’ll probably take another week or two before things start running smoothly.
*This picture is of the kitchen, the far right wall in the picture is our bedroom wall! They are right next door to us. Here they are cooking chima, (boiling water and flour) which the kids probobly ate with dried fish or canned fish or peas... you get the idea. Eat up!

Eli and I both teach 8th grade, which is what we wanted. Because the school has so few classrooms we only teach 5 “turmas”, or classes which we see three times a week for 45 minutes. Each turma has about 80 kids. In Nacala every kid got to sit at a desk (usually 2 or 3 to a desk), but here a lot of kids sit on the floor or squeeze in 4 to a desk (eight graders are small!). I think we’re both excited about teaching this year, the eight grade material is very interesting. In biology it deals more with human bio, health, etc. which I can use to teach HIV/AIDS and life skills. Eli is teaching a lot of introductory English. Eli also recently offered to teach history- the history teacher recently died- so she now has 5 turmas of 10th grade history (they meet only twice a week each so it’s not a complete overload of work, but it’s still a lot). She’ll be teaching about the World Wars and some African history (!?!) But she is pretty excited about it because she’ll be able to use Portuguese in the classroom and history is fun. (Speaking of history, I recommend Truman by David McCullogh).

So far we are still living at school, connected to the lunch room where 250 kids fight for food three times a day!!! We also are still here next to the kitchen, so there’s usually some smoke around the house, but it is handy when I have to start my coal fire, I just go over there and ask for some hot coals. We just put up an esteira, which is like a rug made of reeds, to block the students view of our front door, so we don´t have to worry about people peeking inside every time we go in or out (remember that we have to go outside to get into our bathroom!)

Our day to day is going well- we owe a lot of thanks to Julie and Justin for all the movies- thanks again!

Next time we do internet will probably be the first week of march, when we go to Nampula for a Peace Corps regional meeting- only for the weekend though. Hope all is well back home, miss you all.

Paul and Eli

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