26 October 2009

Ninjas of Namaacha and Muito Mais!

Where do I begin? I’ll start at 5:40 in the morning, an hour of day I never thought I’d see on a regular basis, the hour I emerge from my mosquito net. I start my day by brushing my teeth outside at the rock wastewater drain. Upon seeing the whites of my eyes, my mae boils water for my bath, either over a fire or in a hotpot, which I later carry to the reed bathhouse in my small, multipurpose bacia (tub) for my bucket-bath. After getting ready for the day, I have a little instant coffee and fresh bread with jam and peanut butter; on Fridays, I also take a little malaria prophylaxis with my morning coffee. The morning Portuguese classes are small and are held at volunteers’ host homes. This week, they’re at my house, and the other 4 biology volunteers in my class get to experience the biodiversity of my home, with the multitude of pigs, ducks, and chickens that roam the yard (I sleep well at night knowing I have Tamiflu on hand). After language class, I walk with my fellow trainees to our education classes, winding/hiking our way out of our bairro (neighborhood) along the red dusty walkways. Cross-cultural and language application classes follow, and we generally wrap up by 4 or 5 in the evening. When I get home, my sister Anina gets me a Coke and a package of cookies for my lanche (snack). (I also receive a package of cookies for my morning snack; I would say that cookies and soda compose about 20% of my diet here, so I try to share with my special lanches with my sibs or the various visiting neighbor children.) I usually do a little T.P.C. (trabalha para casa (homework)), play with my little brother Pedro, and sit outside with my sisters Anina and Atalia as they prepare dinner. I chat with them and with my brother Castro as I wait for opportunities to be remotely helpful (usually stirring, but occasionally chopping veggies). For dinner we typically eat rice, a meat or coconut/vegetable dish, cucumber salad, fresh fruit, and for me, Fanta. (Soda is cheaper than bottled water, so I just brush my teeth at the rock for a little longer to compensate for my copious sugar consumption.) While we eat, we watch “Beia y Feia”, a thinly-veiled Brazilian rip-off of “Ugly Betty”, and I’m not going to lie, I thoroughly enjoy it. Coincidentally, my host dad generally becomes very chatty around this time, but on nights when he goes to bed early, I watch with my mom and she explains things to me. By this time, it’s about 9:30 or 10, time for me to hit the sack and crawl back under my mosquito net.
Filling in the gaps from that brief narrative, my Portuguese is improving and I’m slowly weeding out my Spanish accent and replacing it with “sh” and “ao” sounds. I have already given three biology presentations in Portuguese in my education classes, so at present, a disproportionate amount of my vocabulary is related to water pressure in plants, the structure and functions of skin, and the circulatory system, but it will all even out eventually. If you want to learn a little Portuguese, the word for "thief" in Portuguese is "ninja"; we´ve been having fun with that one.
The weather is variable but great; Namaacha is temperate, being at a high altitude, and getting dressed in the morning is a daily exercise in luck and probability. Mornings are typically cool, and afternoons can either heat up past 80 degrees Fahrenheit or just hang out at 60 degrees Fahrenheit under cloudy skies. It keeps things exciting.
All in all, things are going just swimmingly. I have a phone here, so if anyone wants to give me a jingle, email me and I´ll happily give you my digits. I left out just a few details of the last month (ha!), so there is plenty to chat about.


  1. Dear Babe:
    well, it sounds as if even tooth-brushing at the rock water fountain, or taking a "bucket shower" is a new adventure. You are so positive, and affirming, and it sounds as if you are really mellow in fitting in with your family. As a fellow teacher, I am ecstatic to see that your Portuguese is well-adapted to the "content area" re: water pressure/cell structure. And The sugar in your new diet sounds alarming, but probably helps keep up your energy.And what great weather. We are envious! Happy Days & Sweet dreams.


  2. Love to you! So happy to hear of your adventures. :-)

  3. I don't win the posting olympics, but at least this time I get a bronze (because it is a competition). Fanta always makes me feel like home. Or something like that--Fanta is a constant, like Planck or the speed of light.

    Anyway, love you enormously.

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  6. Mosquito nets, Portuguese word sounds, Fanta with dinner, a yard full of animals, having comfortable evenings with your family while watching sitcoms....

    It sounds incredible! And I'm so happy for you, and so glad to be on this adventure with you, through your blog!

    love you love you love you! (I'll think of you the next time I see a Fanta!)