Monday, December 27, 2010

Chapa Rides

Okay so I have mentioned this word Chapa in a number of different blogs of mine, but I don’t think I have taken the time to elaborate on what it really is. A Chapa is a Toyota mini van that has a front seat that fits the driver and 2 other people and four back seat benches. Each of the benches are made to fit 3 people but they put four and usually as many babies and chickens as well. Also the driver has what’s called a cobrador who collects money and sticks his head out of the window to yell their route and fill up the Chapa and so he will sit on the fist bench directly behind the front seats and control the door and stand hunched over if there is no room on the bench – other people will stand too if there isn’t room so basically they just jam it until they can’t close the door, sometimes the chapa is so old that the door doesn’t really even close and so the cobrador just holds it shut. I have a love hate relationship with these chapas (they have the same thing in Uganda as well so I have ridden in my fair share of these Toyota vans) I love them because all of my best stories stem from riding in a chapa, however I hate them because they take so much more time and make you feel like you are in a corset, straight jacket or can of sardines the entire ride…On Sunday on the way back from the beach it was raining, which made belay-ing not an option and so myself and two other volunteers had to take chapas back. We stopped to have in Xai-Xai town before heading back and I had the rest of my lunch in a box ready to take home. As I stopped to situate myself in my rain jacket and such I forgot to pick up my food, but didn’t remember until we got on the chapa. But because we were the first handful of people on the chapa the driver had to drive up and down town waiting for people who were ready to go to our same destination this took a good 45 minutes and in the meantime I was trying to accept the fact that I would not be seeing my Indian leftovers anytime in the near future. But then to my surprise we happened to turn around in the dirt lot next to where I left my food and to my surprise it was sitting on the table right where I left it! So the chapa stopped and left me get out and grab it before we went on our journey that took much longer than the hour and a half journey I took a few days prior…

BEELAYUH (spelled phonetically…)

So the word “beelayuh” means getting a free ride by a complete stranger here in Mozambique. Often times this free ride can come in a number of different varieties – backs of pick-up trucks, in an air-conditioned Land Cruiser with a Mozambican, Portuguese or South African. Now I know coming from the U.S. where hitch hiking is not a common occurrence (and I think might even be illegal), here that is not the case and often times this ride can be much more comfortable than being jammed in a chapa that was originally meant for 15 people and actually have 26 people – not to mention safer. Okay so over the Christmas weekend I spent my time in Xai-Xai beach with some other volunteers and the other volunteer that I am living with and I decided to get a beelayuh to our destinations. After standing on the side of the road for about 20 minutes flagging down whatever car would pass we got ourselves a beelayuh straight to Xai-Xai, which couldn’t have been any more perfect. I like to call him “Speedy Gonzales” because he lives in Chokwe (the large town closest to mine) and works in Xai-Xai meaning he drives this normally 2 hour drive in a private car in an hour and a half during the day and in 45 minutes at night (mainly dependent on the number of cops on the road during those hours…). Speedy was very nice bought us waters at the gas station and gave us his number for whenever we wanted to head back to Xai-Xai. Because of how fast I got to the beach I arrived way earlier than the rest of the group and was able to get a head start on my Christmas tan. My friends who were coming from the same place, but wanted to leave a bit later took chapas and it took them about 5 hours! Oh yea so on Christmas eve a friend of mine and I decided to go to town from the beach which is about 6-8 km trek on our way back we were once again belay-ing and happened to get a ride in a brand new Hummer-3 with air-conditioning, leather seats and a new Akon song playing…will be sure to continue to keep you all updated on my beelayuh stories!

O Meu Cachorro - Piri-Piri

So I got a dog, not sure if I mentioned this before, but I did I bought a puppy and named her Piri-Piri, which is what they call hot peppers here. She is about 4 months – I am not too sure on her exact age and she is a cute little mut of some sort. I gave her a bath the first night and she did pretty well it turned out to be a neighborhood endeavor and it was funny to see people’s faces when I took out a towel to dry her off they couldn’t believe that I would use a towel on a dog! Haha She is in major teething phase and so likes to bite and chew whatever she can get her choppers on, which is usually my arms – I did get her a rabies shot last week, which is good. She sleeps outside and has become a good guard dog for our yard, but because she has matar-ed (killed) a few of the neighbors baby chicks and one of their chickens I have had to keep her tied up during the day when I am not around to keep an eye on her. She loves to play and I just don’t think she knows that her teeth are really sharp and will do damage to whatever they bite…

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dia tres em Guija

So over the past three days I have been getting all settled into my new home. When I arrived I needed to purchase a bed frame and a mattress since my site is new. Purchasing the bed was funny because it wouldn’t all fit in the chapa so we had to strap it on the top of this mini bus and drive it to the house that I am staying in for a few weeks. Yea so I am staying with a volunteer that arrived last year and lives in my same town for the first few weeks because my house is not ready – she’s very nice and has been super helpful with getting settled in. So my house is not ready yet because Peace Corps has certain requirements for our houses before we can move in to ensure that we will be safe, such as bars and screens on the windows, good locks on the doors, etc. My house needs those things plus a new metal panel on the roof because I guess it leaks and a fresh coat of paint. There are also a ton of weeds in the yard so while I am waiting for those other things to get fixed I’ll be enxada-ing (hoe-ing) the yard and preparing for my own machamba (garden). My house is super cut on a very quaint quintal (yard) I have a ton of fruit trees – a papaya, banana, lemon, grape and a few mangoes, I think there might even be an avocado! I met a few of my neighbors yesterday and also went to my school and met most of the teachers – supposedly there are 34 of them for a school with more than 1000 students who come either in the morning, afternoon or evening. I am worried because there are so many names to remember and my brain is already hurting from trying to remember words in Portuguese, but oh well I’ll figure it out after some time. I am really excited because there are 4 other English teachers besides me and they all seem very nice (well the three I met yesterday are all very nice. The staff for the most part seems very young a number of the teachers have just recently finished university and this is their first time teaching. Okay so before I cut this entry off I have to tell about the baby crocodile I saw strapped to the back of this guys bike today while he was riding through town. Supposedly he caught it in the river that runs on the edge of my town (they seem to be spotted quite often - last week a guy’s arm was bit off by one!) and he was on his way to take it to the police station! Yea so that’s it for now.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ciao Namaacha

This week is my last week of training. Friday I will be leaving my homestay family and heading to Guija in Gaza Province where I will be living for the next two years. It’s a bit crazy how fast these past 9 weeks of training have gone! It feels like I just left San Diego and now I am leaving what has become my new home here in Mozambique for what will become my next new home. I don’t know much about my new town, but will over the next few months and will be sure to pass along that information to all of you ASAP. Oh and I will continue to use the same address as of right now because I am only a 3 hour drive from Maputo, will let you all know if that changes. Obrigada!

Comemos Pizza

Okay so this past Tuesday we had pizza for lunch (we always, always, always eat lunch at our homestays, which gets old after eating the same stuff for the past 9 weeks) while we visited the Peace Corps office in Maputo. The staff picked up 35 medium-large-ish pizzas for the 70 of us and they were literally devoured in less than 15 minutes as though we were wild animals who hadn’t eaten for days. I ate four pieces of pizza and was still hungry after I was finished. I think my stomach is going through withdrawals from not having Mexican food (i.e. chesse) on a regular basis, I also think that has had something to do with the fact that my jeans aren’t exactly fitting like they used to…

Voce sabe nada

So my 3-year-old sister Junha is the cutest little dumpling that I have come to love and hate quite equally. Love because she has a smile that would melt you from the inside out and hate because temper tantrums by 3-year-olds five plus times a day are never pretty, but none-the-less I know I will miss her. Anyways the other day I was asked to give her a bath, which I have done before, but never in a bucket about the size of a small bathroom size wastebasket. (Sidenote: Junha hates taking baths and I sometimes am able to get her to take a bath by singing Beyonce’s Single Ladies and when we sing “put your hands up” I pull her shirt off to get her prepped for the bath) On top of the size of the bucket of water I had to bathe her in front of all 6 of the men who work at my homestay family’s house making bricks (they have a brick making business and a chapa business – don’t think I mentioned that before oh and chapa is the word for Toyota-van-taxis, the main type of transport here). Okay back to my story…so we were outside and I was trying to give Junha a bath and she was cold and insisted on trying to sit inside the bucket, which just wasn’t working because it was too small and each time she insisted on sitting down she would get dirty because we were using a bucket that had probably rolled around in the dirt before they decided to use it to bathe Junha – don’t ask me why. Yea so after she was all squeaky clean I picked her up and rushed her inside to dry her off and get her dressed. While jumping on her mom’s bed, I was trying to help her pick out her clothes. I began by asking her what color underwear she wanted and she told me “preto” (black) I pointed to one of the two black pairs hanging on the bed post and she told me “nao” (no) for both of the black pairs – eventually I figured out that she wanted “rosa” – the pick pair, but because she is 3 she doesn’t know her colors very well. After that we moved to to picking out her outfit…she wanted to wear a “saia” (skirt), but they were all dirty. Because I couldn’t pull out a skirt for her to wear, Junha decided to jump on the bed and chant “voce sabe nada, voce sabe nada…” (you know nothing, you know nothing…). I ironic thing is I understood everything. Basically the moral of the story is my Portuguese is slightly better than that of a 3-year-old Mozambican. Whoo-hoo!!! Parabens (Congratulations)!