Friday, November 6, 2009

Chapter one million: Just another manic monday.

And training marches on. Ten weeks of intensive Portuguese lessons, teacher training, and Moz culture. Currently active volunteers are here a week at a time to assist in the training process and give us a picture of what being a volunteer is really like. My day begins...

At 5:30 when I wake up. For the most part I get plenty of sleep here. I wake up under my mosquito net, slip on my sandles and take my bucket shower. I have an indoor bathroom and my host mom heats up the water over the fire for me, so I have it pretty good. Breakfast is bread and tea for the most part, but go me I've convinced them to let me make eggs and I even get milk sometimes. I'm awesome. I get my semi-formal clothes on for training, knock my shoe on the ground (occasionally a scorpion falls out, at which point I scream like a school girl as I smash it with my shoe). And I'm out the door as my mother calls after me to iron my clothes.

On my way to training another volunteer jogs by and flashes a peace sign as two little boys in their school uniforms chase him laughing. When greeted by my good morning they either stare at me in terror or burst out laughing.

The day begins and ends with language training. My language teacher is an absolutely absurd 20 something named Vanilza, whose graphic depictions of diarrhea, sex, and other rarities along with her ludicrously excited responses when we get something right make it a blast. The other day while demonstrating a game akin to dodgeball (don't ask) she pegged me and laughed wickedly. She is slowly getting used to my sarcasm.

From ten to two we have "tech" sessions, wherein we learn the nitty gritty about being a teacher in Mozambique. We've had sessions on how to teach english, certainly, but others on cheating and corruption. The picture we've gotten of the situation looks tough. Cheating is rampant, corruption is too, and we all have to brace ourselves for corporal punishment which is still accepted among some circles.

We learn too about the AIDs situation in the country. We learn about literacy (about 30% among women). We learn about the NGO network in country. Another session was a brief history of the country. Lately we've been giving practice lessons. The biology and chemistry volunteers occassionally skip out on their sessions to see my lessons, which one volunteer described to me as being a "cracked out Mr. Rogers." Which I think oddly suits me.

For the most part at the end of the day I'm exhausted, but that won't save me from my six year old host brother Lay (pronounced "lie") who pesters me until we play his games. He cheats constantly, the little devil, and is wary of explaining too much to me for fear I might beat him. Mostly I just chase him around threatening to devour him until he gets too tired and I tickle him until he can't breathe. "OH GOD IT HURTS" he scream in Portuguese until I stop, when he harangs me "didn't hurt! didn't hurt!" By the end he is wiped out. The other day he fell asleep in his rice at the table.

As dinner is being made I often hold the eight month old baby (else Lay might get his insane little mits on him), whose only desires seems to be to jam his fingers into my mouth or pull the table cloth off the table. I fend off the cat who eyes the baby hungrily. My family laughs at my inability to understand them, but I still manage to get my strange humor across.

I smash as many cockroaches as I can on my way from my second bath to bed (there's no skipping that second bath, god knows i've tried). There is nothing in the entire world like the sound of a cockroach being stepped on.

I read two or three lines in the Omnivores Dilemma before the book falls on my face and I'm out by 9:30.

Life is good.

Tomorrow I leave for a beach town on the coast to see, you guessed it, Courtney Alev. A five day vacation on what is proported to be the most beautiful beach on the Indian Ocean. Despite the ten hour bus ride, I am psyched. The volunteer I'm staying with even has hot running water, and has offered to feed us and hold us up for free. And again, life is good.