08 August 2010

No Message-in-a-Bottle Necessary

Thank you for all of the letters and packages! Erica and I have decided to share a post office box with other volunteers in Xai-xai, so if you want to send me letters to this address, I might get them a little more quickly:
Alycia Overbo
C/o Corpo da Paz
C.P. 85
Xai-xai, Mo├žambique
Please continue sending packages to the Maputo address (Avenida do Zimbabwe, No. 345). I have greater faith that packages will arrive there unopened, and also, the Peace Corps pays the fees to receive them, which works out well for me. Erica and I are well-stocked with coffee and granola bars and are happy as clams at high tide. If you’re looking for new care package ideas, different teas are nice, and reading materials like books and magazines are always appreciated, as are movies and music. And I think I previously forgot to mention my deep love for peanut butter M&M’s. But really, anything from home is a treat. Anything that crosses the United States, the Atlantic Ocean, and most of Africa that has my name on it makes me feel pretty special.

Sun and Honey Time

Looking back at the second trimester and trying to enjoy the last free moments of my break before the inevitable lesson planning, this seems like a good time to type up a new blog post and consequently aid my procrastination.
Good news—though there is still no trace of anything lost in my robbery, a violin has come back into my life!  By crazy coincidence, a nearby volunteer had brought a violin in intending to learn how to play it, but since she’s been busy lately, she kindly lent it to me.  With so many aspects of my life being different here in Mozambique, I can’t even describe how nice it is to practice and feel a continuity with something that’s been a major presence throughout most of my life.  All I can say is, it’s nice.
Our modest science fair was a success.  We had our doubts when we arrived and didn’t see another soul for another hour, but that’s just the way things go in Mozambique; eventually, the participants and other facilitators showed up, and everything ran according to schedule (adding an hour, of course).  Only one student actually conducted an experiment—the others did demonstrations that involved fire, chemicals, and melting plastic bottles—but we were just glad they participated and didn’t start the school on fire.  We’re working on organizing the regional fair, and thankfully have the help of an acquaintance working in the Ministry of Science and Technology.  He is very enthusiastic about the project and has been an invaluable help.  It works out well, because although science fair began as a Peace Corps initiative a few years ago, now that we have involvement of an individual in the government, hopefully in the future we can pass it off and it will remain a sustainable, autonomous program.
My trimester wrapped up a little early because I spent a week in Maputo at a Peace Corps conference to help plan learning objectives and sessions for next year’s trainees.  Afterwards, I was back in Chibuto for a few days to prepare my turma’s grades for conselhos, but [oh, darn!] had to miss the actual conselhos for another Peace Corps conference in Inhambane Province.  Erica and I were pretty thrilled about that timing.  We spent three days in sessions discussing project planning with local counterparts, which hopefully will have productive results; my counterpart and I discussed a model agriculture training for teenage orphans in the community and we may actually implement it.  We’ll see…!
When the conference ended last Sunday, Erica and I were ideally located in beautiful, coastal Inhambane for our week-long break from school, so we trekked over to nearby Barra with a few other friends.  We had intended to stay for a night or two and then move on to Tofo and then meander home, but after landing on the beach and later meeting up with a group of fun, hospitable South Africans, we ended up staying for five nights.  We had a great vacation—swimming, buying colorful capulana clothing on the beach (capulanas are the colorful, multi-purpose lengths of cloth that women use as skirts or to tie babies to their backs, etc.), body-surfing (which I am terrible at), and good eating, thanks to the generosity and cooking prowess of our new acquaintances.  But every vacation has to end sometime, so we finally came home on Friday to be reunited with our pets and start preparing for classes this week.  With memories of sea and sand behind and prospects of lesson planning and grades ahead, it’s tough to get back into the swing of things, but if nothing else, it’s nice to come back to a house of happy animals who are glad you’re home.