Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Weddings: Last Sunday around noon I was working on my blog when my host mom knocked on my door and told me we were leaving. Since it was Sunday I was wearing flannel and looked pretty scrubby. I opened the door and saw my host mom wearing a floor length dress and heels. “We’re going to a wedding. Let’s go!” I asked if I had time to change and she said no, although it took us over an hour to get to the wedding because she stopped to talk to EVERY neighbor along the way. When we got to the house, my host mom asked me if I was a woman. When I hesitantly said yes, she said “women work, right?” I said yes. Then she said, “today you will work like a Mozambican woman!” and she promptly put me to work washing and drying a stack of 100 plates. Once everyone else arrived from the church I had to serve rice in the buffet line. After 3 hours of labor I was allowed to eat. When I finally got to watch the reception it turned out to be really fun. Here it’s tradition to sing and dance while you give the bride and groom their presents. My host mom made me dance with her in front of the crowd, bride, and groom. In my flannel, looking like a scrub. Six hours into the reception I was exhausted and begged my real family to call me as to escape the fight that was ensuing over cake. I’m pretty sure my host mom fought the bride for cake.

Tres Fronteras: Yesterday after our final Portuguese language test, I went with a group on a hike to the tres fronteras which is the point where the borders of Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa meet. First we hitchhiked to the base of the mountain. Next we walked along the barbed wire fence on the Swazi border. Five minutes in two guards stopped us and refused to let us continue our hike. First they told us we couldn’t walk because we didn’t have identification, then they said we didn’t have the right shoes, then they said there were snakes. Eventually we convinced them to show us an alternate path and continued our hike from there. It took us an hour to walk up the rocky slope. The sun was scorching, but we made it late in the afternoon. At the top we were able to see all of Namaacha, Swaziland, and South Africa. We also found a mystery reptile at the top. Thinking it was a black mamba, we ran back down the mountain. After our half hour decent we hitchhiked back to Namaacha on the open bed of a water truck. When I eventually got home I dragged a chair into the kitchen, served myself xima (sheema) and beef and had an hour conversation with my host grandma as she killed chickens. She told me I was her favorite volunteer and I told her she was my favorite host grandma. I think we are officially besties for life.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Model School: Last week we had model school. This was a chance for us
volunteers to gain experience teaching real students in a real
classroom. Since it’s summer vacation for the kids, we had to bribe
them to come to what was essentially summer school for them. How did
we entice them? With cookies, of course. I was part of the group of
volunteers teaching 8th grade Chemistry. Class sizes each day ranged
from 2 to 20 kids, depending on weather and whether of not your class
was before cookie time. Class size dropped dramatically when it was
rainy, when it was cold, when it was really hot, and after the kids
got their cookies. I had to combine 2 classes just to get enough kids
to play Jeopardy on review day (I let the kids pick their team names.
They decided on Black Heart vs. Hollywood). School/learning here is so
different from what we are used to. Kids sit 2 to 3 to a desk. Classes
stay in one room and the teachers move around so there is nothing on
the walls except broken windows and a cracked chalkboard. The kids
don’t take notes unless you write on the board, specifically tell them
what to write, and walk around the class to make sure they’re writing
(although in their defense this was summer school with teachers who
butchered their language). My students had never made nametags before
or reviewed before a test. During the test, the kids couldn’t give me
an answer for “why is chemistry important/why do we learn chemistry?”
even though I would have given them credit for literally ANY answer.
They are used to straight memorization so any critical thinking
questions completely throw them for a loop. Can’t wait to teach for

Thanksgiving: Since we had model school all last week, we had to move
Thanksgiving to Friday. A few of us made hand turkeys. Mine was a
Green Bay Packers turkey, complete with cheese head, that said, “I am
thankful for Aaron Rodgers’ hot bod and smokin’ right arm.” When it
came to eating I was so impressed with our group. Everyone brought a
dish and we had way too much food. I made banana bread pudding. There
were turkeys, stuffing, squash soup, salads, hummus, spinach dip,
garlic bread, mango salsa, homemade chips, fudge, apple crisp, sweet
potato pie, mashed potatoes, EVERYTHING! We are so resourceful. When I
took the leftovers home I offered them to my host family, but they
refused to try my banana bread pudding. They did, however, eat almost
all of Anna’s apple crunch cake. BREAK MY HEART FAMILY! To be fair the
apple crunch cake was fantastic.

Chickens: I’m done feeling bad for you. I tried telling you to run
away last night (in English, Portuguese, AND Changana) but what do you
do? You sit right next to the charcoal stove where Grandma is braiding
the intestines of one of your brethren. Dummies.

Changana: Yesterday we started learning our local languages. For me
this means I’m learning Changana. As if learning Portuguese wasn’t
hard enough, we have to learn an African dialect and our language book
is in Portuguese. Fun times. It also didn’t help Fridays are the days
I take my malaria medication, which turns me into a drool-y zombie.

Maputo: Last Saturday we had a free day so I went to Maputo with a few
other girls. Hello adventure. We met at the Chapa station at 6AM. The
Chapa was already packed, but we managed to fit 4 more in, making the
final head count 23 (keep in mind this is a van). First we drove
towards Swaziland to drop people off near the border, next we turned
around and drove slowly through town to re-fill the Chapa, then we
waited outside someone’s house for 10 minutes before finally heading
in the right direction. The Chapa barreled down the mountain roads at
100km/hour passing anything and everything in front of it. A sweaty
hour and a half later we arrived in Maputo. First stop was the Art
Market where we were bombarded with people trying to sell us
keychains, necklaces, paintings, and capulanas. Bartering has become
such a fun game. The salesperson suggests some outrageous price and I
shout something like “EH PA!” and roll my eyes. Then I suggest
something ridiculously low and they laugh and ask if I’m crazy. We
eventually agree on something in the middle and I make off with some
swanky earrings. Other highlights from Maputo include getting vanilla
soft serve at KFC, curry at an Indian restaurant, and internet at a
random hotel called VIP. Ah, first world treats.

Homestay Party: What an event. Our host moms started cooking at 6AM
for our 2PM lunch. There was singing, there was dancing, there were
certificates! “Congratulations, your volunteer survived! Hooray!” They
killed 60 chickens for this party. I think I was served a whole
chicken and when I told the lady it was too much she yelled at me and
said, “Too much?!? IT’S A PARTY, YOU WILL EAT ALL OF IT!” We then
danced for hours with our host siblings until it was time for cake,
which turned into a death match for the last few pieces. Overall, it
was a great bonding experience for the families and volunteers. After
the party we crashed a wedding at the local bar where I received a
record number of marriage proposals. Oh Namaacha, how I will miss you.

Rice: No more. Please.

Readers: I’d like to thank everyone who sent me e-mails these past 2
weeks. Even if I haven’t gotten back to you yet, I loved reading about
your lives and juicy American gossip. ASHTON AND DEMI ARE GETTING A

Things I miss: Multi-ply toilet paper, cheese, Grandma Carita’s furry
snowmobilin’ boots, Food Network, comfy beds, pretzels, peanut butter
toast, ugly Christmas sweaters, waffles on Sundays, and Papa J’s

Things I love here: It’s summer, it’s mango season, all the
neighborhood kids know my name, no one judges me for going to bed at
8PM, petting my host sister’s afro when she gets her braids taken out,
hanging out with my topless host grandma while she slaughters
countless chickens, my model school students saying “hello teacher
Lena” on the street, feeling like I’m camping when I hike outside to
the bathroom at night with my headlamp, Beyonce is always on
somewhere, baby ducks, and Yutaka’s flannel shirt.

Next Blog: Swearing in and Weddings

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This next week we have model school. I should be planning my 45 minute class, but instead I’m writing a blog. I guess teachers procrastinate too. Tomorrow I will be teaching a class of eighth graders the importance of Chemistry. In Portuguese. I think I lack motivation because it’s so hot and humid here my room feels like a rainforest, complete with cockroaches, lizards, and one very elusive, but noisy mouse. I’m also unmotivated to plan a Chem lesson because I found out this week I’ll be teaching Biology instead of Chemistry. YAY!
We got our site placements this week. I will be staying in southern Mozambique in Gaza Province about an hour outside of Xai-Xai (pronounced Shy-Shy) in Chibuto (Shee-boo-too). I’ll be living with another Peace Corps Volunteer named Mary. She’ll be teaching English and Computers at one high school and I’ll be teaching Biology at a different high school. Apparently the house we’re moving into has had many volunteers before us so we are the proud owners of a gas stove (unfortunately there is a gas shortage in Southern Africa, so although we have a fancy stove we may be cooking on charcoal for the first few months). We have electricity, but according to the current volunteer living there it goes out when it rains, when its windy, when its hot, when its cold, all the time really. My school does not have electricity. Our bathroom is outside and is basically just a hole in the ground. My roommate is determined to build a toilet. I told her I wouldn’t stop her. We plan on getting a puppy and making a garden. I plan on eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a week (SO. SICK. OF. RICE.). My friend Anna is going to live about 2 hours away on the ocean with nuns and flushing toilets. I plan to visit her and her toilet every weekend. My host mom is so excited I’m staying in the South because she seems to think I’ll visit her every weekend. I told her, maybe. She’s also trying to teach me the local language Changana. I can say thank you (kanimambo=kah-nee-mam-bo) and good morning (lixile=lee-she-lee). Only 2 and a half weeks left until I move to site!
The funny thing is I went on site visit to Chokwe, which is only about 45 minutes from my site. Good thing I had fun on site visit…
Time for the sad news: We are down to 2 baby ducks. We started with 10. I definitely think this is why we have so much grief and loss training. I really hope Chompy and Skoofus make it. After the loss of Snoop (the dog) and 8 baby ducks, I don’t think I could handle any more casualties. Also I think we ate the pet chicken that lived in the kitchen. I’m not so upset about that one though. She just pooped everywhere. Wasn’t ever her number one fan.
Last week we went to the orphanage in Namaacha. I’ve never been pet and prodded so much in such a short period of time. We played with 5-8-year-olds all morning. We played duck, duck, goose. I seemed to always pick the future Olympic sprinters to chase me. Still not good at duck, duck, goose strategy apparently.
Next week is Thanksgiving and I will attempt to make banana bread pudding (no pumpkin here ☹), apple crunch cake, and peanut brittle. We’ll see how this works with no oven or dairy products. I smell a challenge! All of the UW-Madison alums (there are 4 of us) are also trying to figure out how we can watch the Packer game this Thursday. Fingers crossed for satellite TV at the swanky hotel…


Today I ate lunch with my teenage host brother, who’s really my host uncle (Still figuring out this family tree). He informed me a lot of Mozambicans believe in Black Magic (Voodoo), including my host dad. The other day I was sitting in our outdoor kitchen with my host mom while she made dinner. It started to storm. Almost immediately I found myself surrounded by my entire host family in this tiny kitchen. My host dad was convinced if he went back outside he’d be struck by lightning sent by someone who wanted him dead. My host mom and grandma wouldn’t let me text because they were convinced I’d be electrocuted. So there we all sat, in silence, watching my host grandma kill and clean 6 chickens because none of us were allowed to leave the kitchen (or text) until it stopped lightning. The power went out 3 or 4 times during this chicken slaughter and I definitely got splashed with chicken goo. My host family also unplugs the refrigerator during storms, but unfortunately forgets to plug it back in. That fridge gets real funky by the next morning. Just another reason not to eat mayo…

Although I have a long list of possible puppy names, I’d like your suggestions. E-mail them to me at lenajenison@gmail.com. Or just tell me about your life. I’m dying for American gossip/news/stories. I’d like to thank Papa Jenison for his daily haikus. The rest of you, however, have been lacking on the e-mail front (grandparents and mom excluded). No excuses, you have trustier interwebz than me. If you want me to blog more, harass me via e-mail (that’s what Mama J does and it seems to do the trick). MISS YOU!

Not that I’ve received any packages yet, but if you felt compelled to send me letters, nail polish, Cosmos, coffee, gum, yourself, etc, you can sent it to 345 Avenido de Zimbabwe, Maputo, Mozambique. I will love you forever.

I forgot to mention my host mom and grandma have decided it's totally cool to walk around the house in the morning topless. Holy sag-fest. It also doesn't help my host mom is like a foot taller than me, which puts her "mamas" at my eye level. And I can't show my knees in public? Seriously?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mozamphone update

Here is my entire phone number in Mozambique (earlier post did not have the country code).


If you are reading this you should be sending me email at LenaJenison@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Apparently I’m a MozamBABY

Week 4 is infamous for cracking volunteers. I now see why. We’re all
on language overload, host family overload, and rice overload. Not
only has this week dragged on, but most volunteers are exhausted,
cranky, and anxious to get out of Namaacha. We’re all living for next
weekend when we get to go on site visits and get a little relief from
our families. Don’t get me wrong, I think my family is great. It’s
just that I’m ready to be treated like a real person and not an
infant. Last night I set the table and gave myself a fork and knife
(we were eating pork, normal right?). My grandma took one look at my
place setting and announced the fork I gave myself was way too big, I
would stab my mouth, and swapped it out for a spoon. Then during
dinner when I was struggling to cut my pork chop with a spoon, my mom
gave an exasperated sigh and cut my meat for me. Silly American. Also
I’ve been banned from doing anything in the kitchen besides watch my
mom cook because I don’t know how to cut vegetables correctly (which
is cutting the vegetable in your hand, towards yourself with a giant
and completely dull knife). Mozambicans don’t really believe in alone
time either so I can’t spend time in my room by myself or they think
I’m depressed and knock on the door incessantly. Ooof.


Week 5 has begun and I’m out of my week 4 funk! I apologize for the lack of mozamblogging, but funk plus 3rd world internet makes for tricky updates. SO HERE IT IS MOM, THE BLOG YOU’VE BEEN BEGGING FOR! Let’s talk Halloween weekend.
In a valiant effort to keep us Americans from having a massive Halloween party, Peace Corps arranged for us to garden all weekend. However, as volunteers, we have been trained to be resilient, flexible, and creative in zero resource situations, so, sorry for partying Peace Corps. The day did not start out so well though. Let’s rewind to Friday night. Thursday, I got the news my host dad’s uncle had died so Friday my host parents and grandma went to Maputo for the funeral. If you recall, parents in Maputo is the equivalent of Mozambican ‘Home Alone.’ My house was crawling with neighborhood children. Friday night I tried to sneak into my room after class unnoticed because I was so not in the mood to speak Portuguese, but my teenage host brother and his 3 friends spotted me and guilt-ed me into sitting in the kitchen with them while they made me rice for dinner. I spent the next 3 hours speaking Portuguese, translating American rap songs, and convincing 4 drunken 18-year-old Mozambican boys my American dad does not own an Escalade. It was exhausting. I was starving. The rice was crunchy. I didn’t go to be until 10, which is SUPER late for my new granny lifestyle.
Saturday morning was just as messy. We needed to meet at 6:30 for gardening (an attempt to tire us out/deter us from celebrating) so I woke up at 5. There was no electricity. There was no food. Both doors leading outside were locked and my little brother and sister didn’t know where the keys were. I begged them to wake up the older brother (who was hungover, I’m sure), but they didn’t understand me. “You want to take a bath?” “NO, I WANT OUT OF THIS HOUSE!” “You want to drink coffee?” “NOOOOO I HAVE CLASS RIGHT NOW! LET ME OUT!” “You want to play hide and seek?” It went on like this until I pounded on my brother’s door and asked for the key. Sans breakfast and bath, I headed to the science hub. Once we all gathered they drove us across town where we gathered brown and green material for composting. It was pouring rain and we were all carrying about 10lbs of mud on our shoes by the end. The rest of the day we spent constructing a compost pile, creating a permagarden, and planting sweet potatoes. This gave me a chance to show off my expansive potato knowledge, which probably only furthered my weirdo status. We were finally allowed to leave around 4, which gave us more than enough time to run home, take bucket baths, improvise costumes, and meet at a volunteer’s house to celebrate Halloween. My babysitter was very upset I would be missing dinner with her, but I explained Halloween is an incredibly important American holiday. I also assured her it is Halloween tradition to cook a big meal together. I failed to mention it was a meal of sugary (boozy) treats. The Mozambicans just stared at us, wide-eyed and open mouthed, as we paraded through town in our costumes. One little girl face planted, another burst into tears. Crazy Americans. I was really impressed with the creativity displayed by the volunteers. There were some fantastic homemade costumes. I won’t give away too many party details, but I didn’t get home until 1A.M. and my babysitter had locked me out. I had to knock on my brother’s window. Luckily, he still felt bad for not getting me breakfast (or packing lunch) that morning so he let me in without saying anything. Dodged that bullet. Sunday was a rough one. We had gardening again, but we pushed it back to 9 (we anticipated a slow morning). What should have taken us 30 minutes took us 3 hours because we were all moving in slow-motion. I’ve learned my lesson: No more hangovers in countries without Netflix, unlimited safe drinking water, and Qdoba burritos.
Yesterday (Monday) my host aunt from South Africa came to visit. I think technically she is my half host aunt because her dad is my host dad’s dad, but she has a different mom because he has two wives? I don’t really know. It sounded messy. Good news was she didn’t speak ANY Portuguese. This meant 1. I wasn’t the only one with a blank stare on my face and 2. I got to play interpreter/sound smart! I never wanted her to leave, but she left today so I’m back to being the baby/dummy of the house. Whatever, normal.
Today (Tuesday) all of the science volunteers and language teachers gathered at our science hub, separated into language groups and had CHORE OLYMIPCS! For the past 4 weeks we’ve been learning house chores so we’ll be able to survive on our own in 5 weeks. The chores included: breaking open a coconut and shaving it to make coconut milk, crushing peanuts with a giant mortar and pestle and sifting to make peanut powder, lighting charcoal, ironing with a coal iron, hand washing clothes in buckets, and sweeping the yard. My team took 2nd. I’m convinced the first place team slipped the judges 100 meticais and/or was on steroids. I can’t know which for sure. My team was called the MozamBULLIES (who do you think came up with that one?). It has been raining non-stop for the past 3 days so all of Namaacha is just one giant muddy slip-and-slide. It’s also super cold here. I’m laying under 2 fleece blankets and wearing Yutaka’s flannel right now. I thought it was supposed to be summer? Namaacha, you tease.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) we find out were we are going for site visits. I AM SO EXCITED TO GET OUT OF NAMAACHA AND SEE REAL VOLUNTEERS DROOOOL!
Also if anyone is interested in sending me sweet nothings via text my number is 823548422. Once I have your number I will give you personalized and sassy updates since it’s cheap for me to text America. I also appreciate Skype/Google Voice calls. Internet access should improve once I get to site, so I might actually be able to check my e-mail more than once every 2 weeks!

Found out I’m going to Chokwe, Gaza on Saturday. VACATION

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MozamBUGS in my MozamBED


Today I watched a chicken die. Ooofta. It’s Sunday, which means it’s chore day. I got to sleep in until 6:30, but the minute I left the safety of my room it was work time. I spent the next 6 hours sweeping the yard (which is rocks and dust and chickens), sweeping the house, polishing the floors, washing my clothes, washing dishes, and bleaching lettuce for lunch. Only after all these chores were done was I allowed to take my bucket bath and eat food. Woof. Washing laundry took forever even though I maybe had 10 things to wash. It involves lathering in one bucket and rinsing in 3 to 5 subsequent buckets of water. Unfortunately, I was competing with my host grandma for buckets and I had 2 loads. Luckily, I was allowed a nap after lunch. Post-nap my mom and I went on a hunt for butter. After the hunt proved unsuccessful, my mom dropped the bomb we’d be killing a chicken. I like to think I’m super tough, but watching that chicken slowly bleed out with its head half severed was a bit much. Cleaning it was disgusting. First we threw it into a bucket with boiling water and plucked its feathers. Then we scooped out guts and emptied the intestines. EW BARF OH MY GAWD SMELLS I NEVER WANT TO SMELL AGAIN EVER. In the end though, the chicken was indeed delicious. Guess I’m not turning vegetarian.


Ooooof long day. Class was at my house, which meant I had to get up early to clean the house. Class was rough. Also the house smelled like chickens (aka poop) the entire time. Snoop (the dog) broke free of his chain and was terrorizing the neighborhood (aka my class). I broke down and had to take a nap (aka visit my happy place).


My host mom told me I’m getting fatter. We’re totally in a fight. My body is rejecting me diarrhea style. ALSO IN A FIGHT. Is it too soon to open my real mom’s “Open when you’re having a bad day” card?


Okay, okay, bad week turned into good week. My language teacher had me teach the future tense to my class and give a 50 minute lecture on sanitation. In Portuguese. I have to say it went pretty well. My teacher said he was pleasantly surprised, I was already a teacher and he could understand my Portuguese. HELLO POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS! I also gave a mini Chemistry lesson in Portuguese, which went just as well. This weekend my host parents went to Maputo for a 3 day party. Apparently this was a signal for EVERY neighborhood ragamuffin to come over and binge on soda and Brazilian telenovelas. My host mom also hired a 15-year-old babysitter for me. Today babysitter had me kill another chicken. BAH THE STANK!


1:00AM. I just chased world’s biggest cockroach out of my bed (which I have now made impermeable with my mosquito net) and will be sleeping with my eyes open from now on. I have half smashed said cockroach and left it to suffer and die as a warning to all its crunchy friends. I just hope I didn’t trap anything else in here with me…HOLY HYPERVENTILATION…Wow, I’ve never been awake at this time before. There’s a lot of really funky drunk caroling happening. Pretty.

Just finally starting to get over ROACHSCARE 2k11. Also starting to get over seeing my host grandma topless. This morning (after finally falling asleep) PC volunteers and a family counterpart cleaned the high school. It was disgusting. I don’t know how kids learn. The desks are falling apart and students have to double or triple up on desks. There is also trash and broken glass EVERYWHERE. Teaching should be interesting…


Holy dogs it was an early day. I got up at 4:30 to take a field trip through Swaziland to South Africa to see the Samora Machel Memorial (he was Mozambique’s first president who died in a mysterious plane crash in South Africa 25 years ago. Wikipedia it.). They sang. They danced. They danced topless. They cried. They prayed. It was a big deal. Also my host sister informed me that dear sweet Snoop (the dog) died today. Rough day for Mozabicans and Mozampets all around.


My sister is a little liar. Snoop is not dead.

Today I trekked 20 minutes to Patrick’s house in the rain carrying a chicken so we could cook with our moms. We were supposed to cook traditional American food, and our moms would cook Mozambican food. We chose to make tacos. Super American, right? We made our own tortillas over a charcoal fire and killed our own chickens. They were some fine tacos and our moms were absolutely shocked we knew how to cook.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011


So Internet is super slow and it has taken me an hour to open a word document and copy and paste this. Blergh. Anyways, I have been keeping a journal since arriving in Namaacha. After typing and re-reading it sounds a little ‘dear diary.’ Whatevs. Enjoy.

Today was the day we met our host families, with whom we will live with for the next ten weeks during training. I was so nervous when I woke up this morning. We were finally leaving the safety of our swanky internet, hotel, and group. We ate out last fancy breakfast buffet meal and piled onto Chapas. The drive took us through the “nice” part of Maputo, the outlying shanty towns, rolling hills, bright red dirt, and banana trees until we reached Namaacha. This town is adorable. Small houses line the red dirt roads, which are full of goats and kids playing soccer. After the hour and a half drive, the chapas finally pulled up to the Chemistry/Biology HUB (which was a good thing, because Anna and I were getting stir crazy and our conversation had turned to explosive diarrhea) and we were seated in front of a huge group of anxious Namaacha moms. They were whispering and giggling. We were whispering and giggling. Finally we were allowed to find our moms, who were holding signs with our names. The minute I made the slightest movement toward my host mom, she practically jumped me. After way too many hugs and kisses she held my hand and showed me off to all her friends. I later found out she was so excited because she only had male Peace Corps volunteers. My mom (Gloria) took me home where I met my host brother (Pai) and sister (Loaiz-a) and 2 mystery neighborhood children. I was immediately fed an overwhelming amount of rice. This was followed up by my family dancing to the radio, which happened to be a mix of Beyonce, J. Lo, and Wiz Kahlifa. Let me just say, these kids had moves. Once the dance party ended my mom paraded me through town again to my language interview, which was a series of questions I had to answer in Portuguese. I think I did okay? Then my mom and I were the last to leave because she wanted all her friends to pet my hair. I feel like a show dog.
Back to the house: it has a toilet, but it is outside, there is no flushing, and you have to pour like 3 buckets of water into it for anything to go down. There are also chickens, ducks, and a dog named Snoopy. I get my own room with a giant mosquito net and a mountain of stuffed animals, thanks to my sister. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention before lunch my mom made me take a bucket bath, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Anyway, my afternoon consisted of unpacking, napping, and letting my mom and 6-year-old sister show me hundreds of sticky, dusty pictures. Tonight I helped my mom make dinner. It was rice, vegetable/bean curry and, wait for it, cow cartilage. What a treat…let’s just say I ate my way around the weird cow goo. While cooking a live chicken sat between my legs and nibbled on my boat show. Cute, right? After dinner I watched Brazilian soap operas with my host dad Junior. Decent first day for not speaking my host family’s language.

Day 2 of host family living. Although the rooster started crowing at 2AM and my whole family was awake by 4, I managed to suppress my sleepy guilt until 6. My mom immediately handed me a capulana (a piece of fabric used for skirts, carrying babies, etc.) and pointed me to the broom. After sweeping the whole house, we scrubbed the floors on our hands and knees. Then came dishes, which are washed and rinsed in a series of 4 buckets. Then it was time to prepare lunch and finally after I bleached the lettuce 3 times I was allowed to eat breakfast/ drink my instant coffee. Between labor intensive jobs I played hide and seek with my sister. After lunch my mom took me to her neighbor “Mama Maria’s” house for a play date with her PC Volunteer Jamie. There I was fed second lunch and made faces at Mama Maria’s daughter’s 5 month old baby. Our moms decided to take us on a field trip across town to watch them get their hair done at the salon. Imagine one lightbulb, one outlet, no running water, 3 hairdressers, 3 women getting extensions, and 7 women either waiting or watching in a 12x12 room with a tin roof. While waiting we watched almost every PC Volunteer walk by with random Namaacha children and host siblings hang off them. Hours later our moms looked super fly and we trekked home for dinner. Next time I’m totally getting my hair braided too.

To start off the day, I set my alarm for 6PM instead of AM. Classic. My mom banged on my door at 6:15 asking if I was alive. Luckily orientation didn’t start until 7:30 and we all know I only need 2 minutes to put pants on and my hair in a nug on top of my head…in America. Here I have to get business casual and take a bath…or ten. Everything here is such a process. I have to boil water for a bath, filter water for breakfast, match dress shirts to skirts, and avoid stomping on chickens, ducks, and poop on my way to the bathroom. An hour was barely enough time. My mom packed what I thought was lunch (a pear, an orange, a hunk of bread, juice, and 2 pieces of cake) but it turns out that was only my mid-morning snack (elevensies? I feel like some kind of hungry, hungry hobbit). At lunch time my fellow volunteers and I were sitting outside and asked if I was Junior’s daughter. When I said yes, they handed me a garbage bag full of food: half a fried fish, a greasy salad, fries, 3 pieces of bread, an orange, a banana, a Fanta, and more juice. SERIOUSLY?!? Orientation was fairly boring except for Anna’s real-life explosive diarrhea story and killing a chicken story. I also talked to two current volunteers who got me really excited about being placed at my site.
Today was freezing cold and poured rain so I gave in to my mom’s pleas to take ANOTHER bath. On the way to the bathroom I slipped on a patch of mud and almost crushed a duck. The ducks seem to really enjoy watching me struggle with a bucket of water in one hand and a plastic chair in the other so I take pleasure in aiming at them when I spit out my toothpaste at night. Take that you pretentious fowl. The thing is late night baths aren’t so bad, it just gets stressful when 6 people and 8 ducks are judging your hygiene habits in the daylight. Speaking of judging, I feel like my host dad is always comparing me to their last volunteer Christoph(er) (they like to leave off the ‘er’ when they say his name). “Christoph was soooooo intelligent. Christoph knew sooooo much Portuguese. Christoph drank soooooo much beer.” Well all I have to say is tut tut Christoph. Oh Junior, I’ll show you. I’ll be the best beer drankin,’ Portuguese talking,’ peace makin’ volunteer you’ve ever had! I’ll probably be the smelliest too because Lord knows me taking 8000000000 baths a day is so not sustainable.

Today I felt like I had finally gotten a grasp on Portuguese/Mozambican life! I boiled my own water and got my own breakfast (sounds easy, but when you have to light coal and hunt down an egg in the chicken coop it’s far from)! My brother and sister held my hands and walked me to class, and by walk I mean we alternated between skipping and hopping on one foot. This meant I only got to language class a minute before it started. Oops. Language lessons are GREAT! I’m so happy to finally have a schedule and have homework and be learning Portuguese. Today morning class was short because it was the National Day of Peace so we went to the Peace Memorial, listened to both Muslim and Catholic prayers, threw down some flowers and marched in a peace parade through town. Then it was lunch time. Then it was nap time. Then it was time for more class, which takes place at one of our houses each week (there are 4 of us in class). For our first language application test, we went to each others’ houses and introduced our families to the class. We all agree my mom is the fly-est on the block. Today she was wearing silky, red, bedazzled pants. We also agree my dad is a baller. Tonight I did homework, helped cook coconut stew, played with my brother and sister, and later helped cook Mozambican donuts. My mom and I carried on a conversation for an hour. Portuguese WIN! I also love every time my mom says “LlllllllEEEEEEna, you are sooooo good at Portuguese!” She’s precious. And a liar.

How is it I’m in Africa and I’m so cold I’m shivering? Namaacha weather is sassier than Wisconsin. I blame the mountains. And ducks. Today I had more language class. During lunch I walked to the internet café and checked my e-mail for the first time since last Saturday. Turns out, my dad is writing me a haiku a day while I’m gone. Classic Dad, he’s the best. Also there are only 2 computers in the café (and 51 volunteers) and they are reeeaaally slow so please bear with my absence from this blog for days to weeks at a time. After lunch we had more language application, which turned out to be a field trip to the high school to practice introducing ourselves to actual Portuguese speakers, rather than each other. I made a new friend Nelson and I now know everything about the high school, what to do in Namaacha, all about sports, and what Mozambicans think about Americans. Overall, a successful fieldtrip. Tonight I helped my mom clean and cook fish while also playing hide and seek with my siblings. I love playing with them, but I’m getting sick of always having to be the counter. On the bright side I am sooo good at counting to 20. After dinner I accidentally walked in (out?) on my mom peeing in the yard as I was leaving the bathroom. We then conversed until she finished. Totes not weird, right?

2 days ago I killed a chicken. I am still traumatized. We will discuss next blog.