Well clearly Africa has not put a dent in my mastery of procrastination. Also this first month at site has been pretty high on the whelming-scale, hence the slack in reporting. When last we blogged, caro leitor(a), I had just arrived in Lichinga, which has grown on me immensely in the past month, and is feeling more and more like home.
Our house has also undergone a home-tastic transformation, the possibility of which I was somewhat dubious. The first day we arrived in town, our school director told John and I that another professor was currently living in our house, but he would be moved out and the place would be cleaned for us by the end of the day.
Yeeeeeah, so it turns out that in Portuguese, “end of the day” translates to “two or three weeks, maybe, you know, if it doesn’t rain too much.” We nicknamed the former tenant George Go-Away, whom we had the distinct pleasure of seeing about every other night for the first couple weeks here as he slowly cleared away most of his crap, although he has left us four or five giant burlap bags of charcoal (which is kind of handy).
Want to know what else George Go-Away left us?! A big-fucking-mess, that’s what. I could probably do geographic dating based on the strata of dirt and grime that covered every possible surface in the house, including the walls, which in my room also included a giant, smudgy-red cave painting of a face that terrified me every time I woke up in the middle of the night. The kitchen was a roach-utopia; the bathroom, well, let us not speak of such things; and everything was accompanied by a wonderfully pungent eau-de-musk.
Now, despite the slanderous claims of my parents, I’m actually an exceptionally clean twenty-something male, so this did not exactly endear me to my new home. John and I dutifully armed ourselves with Ajax, Handy-Andy, Javel, and Baygon (Mozambican equivalents of Comet, Mr. Clean, Chlorox, and Raid, respectively) and went to WAR. The first battles were harrowing, and involved a lot of me squealing (very manly-squealing, mind you) and instinctively running for the nearest chair every time I saw a new roach/spider/unidentifiable-freakish-African-mutant-bug, but I acclimated quickly to life in the trenches.
After three rounds of aggressive sweeping and mopping I discovered the floor of my room. After multiple coatings of bleach and two hours of destroying my knuckles with scrubbing I discovered that the tile in my bathroom is permanently stained and will always look grody, but at least I know nothing can live on it. And after liberal bug-spraying in the kitchen, I discovered a roach massacre every time I woke up for a week – literally 50+ new, twitchy roach corpses spread throughout the house every morning. Fun times!
So yeah, most of our energy this first month has been dedicated to making the house livable, which I am happy to report has paid off quite nicely. I now only see two or three roaches daily, which is an admirable level by Mozambican standards. I am most proud, however, of my room. Those gay designer skills that you get with the welcome-to-the-team toaster really kicked in nicely, and I have put together a cozy little sanctuary for myself. I painted over Mr. Scary-red-face, and the rest of the walls, in a dark blue; I Maria Von-Trapped some custom curtains out of a nice geometric capulana pattern; and I even MacGyvered a closet out of the side rails and ladder from the bunk bed kit that the school gave us. It’s really quite impressive, you should be impressed.
In the midst of all this homemaking, the holidays showed up. As a present to ourselves, five of the Niassa volunteers spent Christmas at Lake Niassa, at a little cottage resort called Mbuna Bay, otherwise known as paradise. I melt a little bit just thinking about it, and really the only appropriate description would be gurgly, mostly-incoherent sounds of pleasure: mmmmgggrrrumptious or hawwwwluuurvely come close. It was three days of relaxing on the beach with a cool breeze and my kindle, relaxing in a hammock under a giant mango tree, relaxing in the most incredible-never-want-to-leave-you bed, relaxing while watching a sunset that should make all other sunsets hang their heads in shame, relaxing under a night sky with more stars than I ever thought possible (and my first shooting stars! like six of them!). Sigh. In between the relaxing I also ate a lot of shockingly good vegetarian food, snorkeled, made friends with a cat, and took utmost advantage of a fabulously functioning bathroom with running water.
Ups and downs in Peace Corps, ups and downs.
For New Year’s Eve we were invited by Alsina, a local shop owner that we have become friends with, to a party in town. It was a big potluck, with lots of good food and booze, but the main event was the dance party that broke out at midnight. Sweet baby Jesus I love Mozambican dance parties. Hands down my favorite thing about this country so far. Absolutely everyone gets into it, from three-year-olds to grandmothers; Africans, Portuguese, mestiços, Indians, and now two Americans, all together shaking their asses with an incredible, palpable joy covering the place. It’s just magical.
So yeah, those are the big events of the past month, otherwise it’s just been a lot of getting to know Lichinga better. On the school-front we helped out with matriculation this past week, which widened my understanding of the concept of chaos. Classes are technically supposed to start tomorrow, but I’m 95% positive that’s not gonna happen. Probably next week. Some big news: my director pedagogico confirmed that I will be teaching twelfth-grade Biology, which I’m super psyched about! I’m terribly excited/ready to start teaching, more on that next time.
Oh, so quick recent entertainment review:
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – he’s a total douchebag, but also a genius, and this album really showcases both of those things. Can’t get enough.
Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday – I believe the hype.
The XX, XX – I’m way late to them, I know, but I was missing Megan one afternoon and needed some hipster comfort, which this album provides quite nicely.
Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything – Love this book hardcore. An incredible well written layman’s tour of all of science that reminds me why I love it so.
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games Trilogy – So this is the new “it” Young Adult series, and it gives me hope for all the 12-year-old girls in America. A great antidote to the horror-show of the Twilight brain-vomit-disguised-as-books. The sixth-grader in me thought this series kicked ass.