21 December 2009

Chapter V: And Then I Smuggled a Cat into Gaza

Life in Mozambique thus far has been fairly eventful (to say the least), but the last two weeks have been particularly noteworthy. On Tuesday Dec. 8, we trainees went to Maputo to be officially sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers and on Wednesday, we packed up and left Namaacha. It was sad to say goodbye to my PCV friends and host family, but after 10 weeks of Portuguese classes, medical sessions, and culture lectures, it was time for a change.
And what a change it is; after a short conference in Xai-xai to meet our supervisors, I traveled to Chimundo, Gaza province, which will be my site and my home for the next 2 years. I arrived that Friday morning with my supervisor, my bags and, much to the surprise of my supervisor, my kitten Bea, whom I successfully concealed throughout the entire trip from Namaacha. Bea and I were dropped off at the school and made a short trek to our new home, which is on school grounds. My first impressions of the house were very positive; it is quaint, with a grass bathhouse, outdoor latrine, two bedrooms, and sizeable main room. My second impressions were a little overwhelming; I quickly saw that the only furniture in the house was my bed, a small plastic shelf, and two plastic chairs. Also, the house has no electricity. However, my house has a kerosene lamp, a gas burner, dishes, and notably, a Mozambican roommate, Amelia, who is a fellow teacher at my school. Amelia has been very patient and helpful in the last week, showing me where to get rides to the nearby city of Chibuto, cooking for us, and introducing me to her family in Chibuto. Bea and I have a standing invitation there to wash clothes and take advantage of their electricity, and I fully intend to take them up on that, especially since Amelia and my other colleagues are leaving Chimundo for the holidays. Thankfully, there is another volunteer who lives in Chimundo, so I can easily visit her and her electricity oasis. Meanwhile, since school doesn’t start for another month, Bea and I will start working on furniture acquisition and try our hand at Mozambican foods. We should have plenty to keep ourselves occupied.

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