So I vote we start with my most Peace Corps-tastical accomplishments over the past two months.

On the MacGyver front I am a rock star. Our electric stovetop had been on a murderous rampage ever since we bought it, due to a combination of the hugely vacillating electric current here in Mozambique and an apparent hatred for two-prong plug adaptors. After melting to death five or six different adaptors over the first two months in Lichinga, the stove’s plug finally collapsed in on itself in a molten plastic mess. Undeterred, our intrepid adventurer (that would be me) used his handy Leatherman™ to pry off the plug, splice the copper wires, and plug them directly into the wall socket. We haven’t had any electrical fires yet, so I am going to call it a stunning success. It may not sound that impressive in writing, but this is a pretty big deal for a guy who would previously throw anything away as soon as it got a little dusty. Progress!

Accomplishment the second: I caught my first tropical parasite! It’s called myiasis, which is a general term for any parasitic infestation of fly larvae. More specifically, I picked up a case of cutaneous myiasis on the sole of my foot, probably from walking barefoot on the sand at Lake Niassa. Contrary to the horrors that a Google image search will show you, my case was relatively mild. Basically it just showed up as a boil on my foot with a small hole in the center so my larval guest could get air. All I had to do was put polysporin over the hole and pimple-squeeze to force the larva out for air, then tweeze him to death. Apparently the bigger concern is secondary bacterial infection, but basic cleanliness and antibacterial cream takes care of that, so I’m all better now. Expecting a merit badge from Peace Corps to arrive soon.

Otherwise life has settled into pretty comfortable normality revolving around school. After a final count of six different schedules within the first four weeks of classes, the powers that be finally got bored with throwing the school into chaos every few days and I was able to actually do some longer term planning for my classes.

Teaching itself has been a blast. This first trimester is all about cytology, and I am loving getting back into basic Biology. I put a lot of energy into all of my lesson plans to make them interesting and engaging, and I feel like the students have generally been enjoying my classes, and participating more and more. I also felt that as we moved further into the trimester, the majority of students were really starting to understand the material, rather than simply memorizing facts or relying on cheating to get by, which tend to be their two default options.

Not sure if you noticed the important verb tense of that last sentence: past. Yeah, this week I gave the final exam for this trimester, and it was a bloodbath. A really disappointing, depressing massacre. Despite the fact that I explicitly told my students the exact material that would be on the test and we played a review game in which I used probably half of the questions from the test, still the vast majority clearly did not study at all and didn’t retain much from the past two months. Let. Down. What’s more, I felt like the attempts at cheating during the test were even worse (both in quantity and quality) than during the first exam. What’s more more, although my second and third Turmas during the week did slightly better on the test, I strongly suspect that this was only because they got a heads up from the first group of kids, and so were able to cheat a little better. I am not at all a cynical person, but this week was, to date, my worst Peace-Corps-gutpunch-of-ineffectuality-and-all-around-uselessness, and I’m glad I have a couple weeks off of school to recuperate. I know that these sorts of setbacks are part of the experience and I’m still hopeful about the remainder of the school year, but that future optimism is superseded by a whole lot of present sturm and drang.

On a more pleasant note, most of my time outside of school continues to be spent on a lot of reading, plowing through all of the movies/TV shows on my hard drive, and hanging out in Lichinga, all of which are delovely. Especially the reading. Sweet Baby Jesus I love my Kindle, and it is beyond awesome to actually have time in my life to read whatever interests me. My only complaint is that in Lichinga we are extremely isolated from the other volunteers and the rest of Mozambique, so I get jealous when I hear about the other PCVs weekend trips to visit each other or cool parts of the country. Oh well, at least I am isolated at probably the best site in Moz.

Also helpful, John and I have become good friends with the people who work at Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) in town, including Maura, a former Peace Corps Volunteer who is now a nurse and also my new favorite person in the world. We spend most weekends with them, hiking around town, having pizza making parties, drinking caiparinhas (awesome Brazilian cocktails), occasionally dancing at the Hot Chilling Club (the best named, and only, discoteca in town), and traveling up to the Lake a few times. Tá bater.

Tangentially related and exciting: in a few weeks (after our Peace Corps reconnect conference in Nampula), I am going to start shadowing the Brazilian doctor who works for MSF around the hospital in Lichinga, which should be super-interesting/depressing.

Alright, that’s a decent update. Why don’t we end on an especially gay note (in all the best senses of the word): yesterday was beyond gorgeous, so John and I decided to take a walk in the hills behind our bairro. I frolicked a little, I picked a bouquet of wildflowers for the house, and we even played jump rope with a group of girls that live at a convent/orphanage just outside of town. It was one of those Peace-Corps-epiphany-this-is-why-I’m-here-and-I-love-this-country sort of afternoons, which balanced well with the rest of the week.

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