Well the final two weeks of training have felt exceptionally pointless yet (paradoxically) specifically engineered to frustrate me and the other volunteers. It’s been Peace Corps Purgatory. We all mentally checked-out after site placement and all anyone can focus on is getting to their home for the next two years and settling in/starting to integrate into our communities.

The second week of Model School was pretty sad as most of the students stopped showing up for the first two periods everyday and even the PC staff just lost interest. Oh well, I feel like I got what I needed from the first week.

For Thanksgiving we had a big Peace Corps potluck, complete with Turkey. The food was generally excellent but it still felt very off. It’s summer here and there was absolutely no Thanksgiving build-up so it really just felt like any other day, only fatter. Got a call that night from Mom and Mike and Charlotte which made me feel more blah since I couldn’t be in Atlanta with everyone. It was probably just the lack of pumpkin pie and crescent rolls. I mean family is an added bonus, but Thanksgiving is really all about the pie/Pillsbury for me, and their absence was sorely felt.

Not too much other exciting news to relay, as this week has mainly been an exercise in patience as we tie up lots of random loose ends before the official end of training. I passed my Portuguese Language Proficiency exam (as did very nearly all of the Moz15ers). We leave Namaacha for good on Friday and head to a swank hotel in Maputo. That night we formally swear in as Peace Corps volunteers at the U.S. Ambassador’s house. I’m really looking forward to the ceremony (and the open bar).

For seriously though, as glib as I prefer to be in relaying this experience, these past 9 weeks have crystallized for me how much I believe in what I am doing and how proud I am to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. I think it will be a really emotional evening.

Then dark and early on Saturday (as is the PC way) I fly to Nampula city with the twenty-or-so other north-region volunteers. Next Monday and Tuesday we have our Supervisor’s Conference, where we meet our school/organization directors and listen to some more undoubtedly-thrilling speechifying. But then the real action starts, on Wednesday I load up in a bus with the other Niassa volunteers to drive to our respective sites. From what I can tell the trip could take a full day (or more) on not-so-great roads (Niassa is known to Mozambicans as o fim do mundo, the end of the world, and apparently the road-conditions uphold that moniker). On the up side, while my butt may try to stage a coup after hour twelve in a chapa, my eyes will apparently have a fabulous trip. All the guidebooks say that the view on the road between Nampula and Niassa is beyond gorgeous. The area is known for its Inselbergs, which get my vote for the best-named geographical formations ever and are basically randomly placed reverse icebergs made of granite. Badass.

I promise a major photo dump given available internets when I arrive in Lichinga.

That’s all the new news, but returning to our regular segment – Christopher gives a book report – I finally finished reading And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts. It’s about the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (mainly focusing on America) and the government/scientific response during the first five years (1980-85). Well, lack of response to be more accurate. Shilts was a journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle and the book reminds me a lot of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote in the way it personalizes and novelizes a non-fiction news story. It’s one of those books I would stop at almost every time I went to Barnes and Noble and have been telling myself I must read for years and just never felt up to it. And it knocked me out. Quite possibly the most emotional and personally-affecting book I have ever read. Getting through it felt like watching Schindler’s List four times back to back, painful and terrifying and exhausting and visceral but in the end incredibly worthwhile and necessary in retrospect. But I think I’m going back to some relatively happy fiction for a while to recuperate.

Again, so happy to be reading so much here (which should only continue, because the PC Moz15 external hard-drive exchange program has now pushed me to nearly 1000 books on my Kindle).

Finally, some random randomness: the light switches here are up-off and down-on. This feels completely wrong and bothers me to an inordinate degree and I’m worried that it reflects some sort of deeply ingrained up/down, north/south bigotry in me that I’ve never noticed before. Am I a downaphobe? A southist? I’ve really been preoccupied with this all day, further evidence that it’s time for training to end and my actual Peace Corps service to begin.

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