Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Happy and The Sad

8 months! I can't believe I haven't posted anything in 8 months!! Well, there really is no good way to catch you up on life here. I apologize for NOT writing. You see, if you know me well, you might know that I LOVE to journal. In fact, I journal almost every day. But, it is hard for me (for some reason) to get on the computer and type out things that are going on in my life. I'm not good at blogging like my love, Michael is. Not to mention my camera was smashed to PIECES in an accident I was in when we were in Tanzania.

Though I have no pictures to post right now, I want to share sad news and good news. As you might know Michael and I went to Florida for about 3 weeks, end of January to mid Feb. We had a wonderful time! It was so good to be back in the states for a while and to see my mom and Al and one of my best friends Katie Koz. It was also SO terrific to finally meet the rest of Michael's family and some of his closest friends. I love them all and can't wait to be NEAR them!! Well, if you want more details on our fantastic time in the states, you have to ask for it! ;)

I wanted to share with you quickly that good and sad news I mentioned earlier. (It did relate to our trip to America, haha that wasn't a total tangent, though it was...a little bit) So, before we left for America, I had been living in Morrumbala for over a year. In that time I became good friends with some of my neighbors in my community, my "bairro" of M'Bobo. I'm particularly closest with two families, the family that is directly next to my house and the family who lives right behind my house. The news all relates to the family that lives in the house behind mine.

I stop by their house everyday, sometimes for a long while, we sit and play cards and sometimes just a quick hello. I grew very fond of the two daughters that lived here with their parents. The oldest was Nina, she was 23 years old and her younger sister is Sarah, she is 19 years old. I used to just sit with Nina and Sarah, sometimes talking and other times just sitting. Silently enjoying one another's company under the mango tree. Nina was really into fashion and she would always ask me to bring her pictures to look at, and she was even a part of the sewing group that my other neighbor Lina and I had started. Nina was young, and so sweet. She was getting more and more sick as time went on. As her health was deteriorating, I was unsure how to approach the situation.

Working with Save the Children I am constantly going out with local volunteers, Activistas, and visiting people who are very ill. That has always been draining on me, very emotionally draining. But I was going out with the Activistas to try and see how they could improve their home visits with the ill people that they were weekly visiting because that is what Save the Children asked me to do. Though I was doing that 4 days out of the week, it didn't prepare me for how to deal with Nina. Nina was my friend. She was my age. From what I had seen of people living with HIV/AIDs I was convinced that Nina would test positive for it.

It was hard to ever get Nina alone, someone was always around. I wanted to talk with her. And when I finally managed to talk with her alone once, she said she took the test and was negative. She claimed it was malaria and she was taking medications for it. I tried to talk to her mom, her mom didn't want to talk though. What do you do? There is medication to help you live a good and long life, but you have to be willing to take the medication. You must be willing to accept what you have. Nina wasn't willing. I spoke with co-workers and friends (without giving away who she was) about what can I DO?! They all suggested to keep trying to talk with her and/or her parents and talk to a mutual friend, someone Nina has known longer who can talk to her. Ok, great, I thought. I will talk to Lina, my closest friend at site who is also so close with Nina. She knows the situation already and maybe Nina or Nina's family will listen to her.....

In the mean time, the good news is also happening. Sarah, Nina's younger sister is pregnant and she is getting ready to have the baby, this is in January and she is gonna pop soon. This will be her first child, and she is married and she is so excited. Sarah is young, but I'm thankful that she is married to a nice, young man. And Sarah is going to continue going to school, her family is going to help her take care of her baby so that she can finish up her education.

Sarah is pregnant, full of life and glowing. Nina is sick, and looks like she is wanting to leave this life. My heart was so torn when I was visiting them. On one hand I was so excited for the baby to arrive, on the other hand, I so desperately wanted Nina to start taking treatment.

I spoke with Lina, and she said she also tried talking to Nina. Lina said that Nina didn't want to take any medications. She was going to get better on her own or she wouldn't. My heart was so saddened. You can't force a person to do something they don't want to do. But I just wanted her to understand, that if she did NOT take medication, she would NOT just get better. Once we talked with Nina about that, I was at a loss.

One week till we are leaving for the states and out comes the baby. And here is the great news, that makes me smile to think about. The family asked ME to name the baby! I was so thrilled that they would give me the honor of naming their first baby. =) Often, people have many babies here, so after a few it might be more common to ask for someone else to name the baby, but their first child! Wow! =) So I thought about it for quite some time, and thought the babie's name should be....


They loved it! They decided that would be his name, Noah. Still makes me smile. I say goodbye to Noah and the family as I am leaving for my trip back to the states. Not knowing what it would be like when I returned. I told Lina to keep trying to talk to Nina and her family.

Well, a month later, I was back. The first news I get was that Nina had passed away. I couldn't hold back the tears. My friend. I couldn't help but wonder what could I have done differently? What more could I have done? I miss her. Her presence is missed in the community. I know I did what I could, and it's not my fault, but maybe that is normal to think about when someone you care about passes away.

I still go to their house everyday. Noah is healthy and chubby. He brings joy to my life. Sometimes when I am feeling low, I go to the house behind mine and I go to hold Noah. He is so small, so fragile, so innocent, so beautiful. I feel so attached to him.

Life and death. Both are a part of life. It's just so hard when the person who dies is so young, and you know that they didn't have to die yet.....

And so there you have it, Nina and Noah. Two people whom I will never forget, not for the rest of my life.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Have you watched glee!? It is my favorite! Sometimes after a really long, hard day I go home, pop some popcorn (new fav snack) and I watch glee! It makes me kinda sad that a whole new season is about to begin and yet, I won’t get to watch it till prob 2011! =/ boo! Ok, I was also just listening to the soundtrack from the show, lol, hence I might be thinking about it as I write this…BUT I also feel glee in my life right now! Hence, I entitle this blog entry, glee!

Sometimes, so much is happening here in Mozambique I feel at a loss of what to blog about, which is silly because there is prob so much you want to know….that perhaps to me has now become ‘normal.’ Let me give myself some direction by coming up with a few topics below, to update you on (give me ideas for future ones!)

Random? For example, the typical meat people eat here in Moz is goat. And where I live, goats are in abundance, and you can get a good sized one for about 500 meticais (which right now = about $14.00), but for the average person living here, including us PCVs that IS expensive. So one buys a goat perhaps for a very special occasion (like when I bought one for my birthday back in April). Well, when you buy animals here, you buy them…alive. Yes, alive. This is a little different than going to the supermarket and getting all your meat in a nice, neat little package. So while you are here in Moz, you will see, most likely on a daily basis, a goat, or even 2 goats, strapped to a bicycle. =) At first, this seemed strange to me. Goats hanging on a bike? That looks silly! I have also seen a goat in the driver position of the bike and chickens hanging from the handle bars. Yup! Just normal here! Lol so, if those are some of the kind of stories you are looking for…haha…let me know! ;)

Work? Let me tell you about job stuff….things are good. I FINALLY feel like I have found a routine. I go out with Activistas, who are local volunteers who get paid a small stipend once a month. The Activistas visit beneficiaries of the Home Based Care branch of Save the Children. So, in the mornings I go and visit beneficiaries with the Activistas, usually chronically ill persons, and often people living with HIV/AIDs. I am doing basic monitoring and evaluation of the Activistas, trying to help Save the Children improve this area of Home Based Care. It’s emotionally and mentally super draining! Poverty is everywhere here, but going to then visit people who are so sick, who are just trying to survive, can’t afford medication often, is very challenging. The disparity in the world is beyond my understanding. Extremely rich people and extremely poor. I’m constantly praying for God to give me the strength or the words to visit these people in the mornings, to make someone smile. The role of the Activistas is basically them helping the beneficiaries in whatever way that means, could mean taking them to the hospital, making sure they take meds if/when they are supposed to, giving baths, they are the “helper” and they also are just there to offer support overall, even just to visit and talk with these people who are sick about…life. I can only handle visiting a few houses a day.
Then in the afternoons I have different projects, for example, on Monday afternoon I’m teaching English to a few people, it’s open to anyone, but only the dedicated come. Then this month and the next I’m working with 5 kids and 2 counterparts on an English Theater Project, where the theme is “Be the Change.” We are doing a play on HIV/AIDs and we will be performing it in early October in front of lots of people. And also me and Lena, my best friend and neighbor here, are trying to start up a small sewing project for women, to encourage and teach women ways of earning money other than selling their bodies, which is sadly VERY common here…..So that is kinda what my days look like. I try to do Save the Children related things in the mornings, and my own, personal projects in the afternoons. Job stuff is going good

New? I had a cat, for 3 days. I don’t like cats. But Bobo, he is good =)

ps. I will write a reminder to myself, to write a whole blog entry on our time in Tanzania! That is something important, new, and just, FUN!! =)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Presidents and Monkeys

I don’t think I remember how to blog. I journal every single day, and yet I’m at a loss when it comes to blogging. Maybe it is because when I journal I don’t have to censor anything, whereas with blogging, I feel the need to censor…everything! =) Then I find myself wondering, who IS reading this anyways? I know that Michael is, hey Michael how goes it? For everyone else, I suggest that you don’t go to Michael’s page after being on mine, because mine will look so sad in comparison. I haven’t written anything on here since when? Definitely before my birthday, but really there is no way I can try to catch you up on everything that has been going on since the last time I blogged….so I’ll just tell you about most recent events, how’s about it? Let’s start with today, May 24, 2010….

I met the President of Mozambique, Mr. Guebuza himself. That is one way to start off the work week! Mr. Guebuza has been going all over the country, visiting different Provinces and Districts. Some of his visits are longer than others. I didn’t even know I was going to get to meet him until this morning. I got to the office and saw the boss of my office here at Save The Children, Morrumbala, looking very dressed up in his suit. I inquired why he looked so “chique” (good-looking basically) and he said he was going to welcome the President who would be arriving in an hour or so by helicopter. “O” I say, “Can I come?” Baslucas’ replies, “Sure.” =) I quickly remember I didn’t bring my camera to the office, and I know that I’m going to want to snatch some photos up, so I ask if we can stop at my house on the way to where Mr. President would be landing. Within 20 minutes, my camera is in hand and we are driving to the open field where thousands of people are flooding to get a glimpse of Guebuza. When we get there it is packed! People have come in from all over, and there are groups singing and dancing, holding huge banners, and cameras are filming everything for the news program that will come on later today.

Basilicas asks where we should stand, and we are led through the crowd, and we are directed to a certain location near the front of the line. The “line” is made up of people who hold different positions in the District, and I was surprised that we, Basilicas and I got to stand so near the local community leaders. Now that we are that close I KNOW without a doubt that I would be shaking hands with Guebuza himself. Chants grow louder and louder as the helicopters begin to stream in. 5 huge helicopters land near us, and there is a 6th one coming in, Mr. President’s helicopter. I was so excited to get to be a part of this day, and I felt a rush of excitement as the last helicopter landed and the doors opened. After greeting the Administrator of Morrumbala (yes the one who came to my 23rd birthday party!! Haha) and other government leaders here, Guebuza began to make his way down the line. He shook hands with everyone, as the person proudly said their name and what/whom they represent….he’s getting closer…ah the President of Mozambique is two people away from me…Basilicas reminds me to say my name, first and last, and to say that I’m with Corpo de Paz, Peace Corps. He shakes hand with Basilicas, who is on my right, first, Basilicas introduces himself and says he is from Save the Children. Now Guebuza is in front of me, haha, and I was able to say, Amanda James; Corpo De Paz, even WITH the cameras in my face! I hope I can see the news later on because I’m so sure that my face is going to be on the National News! =) haha too bad TV’s are hard to come by here in the village.

The morning came and went. He made his way down the line, and toured the village with the Administrator and the other high ups. And then after his tour, he was driven by the crowds once more as he was waving goodbye. As quickly as he came, he was gone. The helicopters left one by one, and they were off to the next District. It was a really great experience. Mozambican flags flying everywhere. Songs about uniting the country. Chants about freedom from the Portuguese. People were lit up with joy. It was a really cool thing to witness and I felt honored to be able to be in that line, and get to greet the President of Mozambique. I have my political opinions, but I’m not going to share them here, this is me censoring! =) I can put my personal opinions aside, and say that is was another amazing thing that has happened in my experience in the Peace Corps Mozambique, something I will never forget! I met the President Guebuza of Mozambique…and I’d say….that is pretty awesome!

Ok, that all happened just this morning! So now you understand half of the title of this entry, but what about the second part, “Monkeys”? =) Well, maybe you have recently seen my status on facebook? It says, “Someone offered me a monkey today. I went & saw it & it’s awesome! It grew up w/people. Opinions on Amanda accepting the offer of the monkey?” and this post of mine has received more comments than anything I’ve ever posted (I think!) haha I guess lots of people had opinions on the subject! Well, let me start off by saying, that in the Peace Corps we aren’t supposed to have a monkey. So…it would live at my neighbor’s house, but then I’d be the one feeding it and I’d get to see it every day. I could babysit it….right?!

Is it right to take a monkey? I mean isn’t that mean? Well, if someone doesn’t take this monkey it’s going to die. See, the woman who now has it took it from the mato because she said she found the monkey alone, and it was so little that she didn’t want to just leave it there because she thought it’d die there. But, as you know, poverty is a big problem here in Mozambique. This woman who took the monkey barely has enough money to feed HER family, let alone a monkey! So this cute little thing goes days sometimes without eating, which is why the woman wants to give it away to a home that can provide better for it. I went to see the little guy, and it is SO cute! It is so human like it is crazy. It’s little hands and the way it guarder (keeps) food in its’ lower cheecks….o so cute! But, Amanda, you can’t have a monkey! You can barely care for your dog Bobo. I remember reading that if you ever wonder if you’re ready for kids or not, you first must get a plant and keep it for..a while..keep it alive and well. I now have a rather successful garden. Ok, great. Then, after you can keep a plant, you are supposed to be able to care for a dog…well I got the dog =/ but Bobo has helped me learn (what I already knew) I’m nowhere NEAR ready for kids! Haha I don’t have the patience to train Bobo, so he is a bit unruly. Have you seen the movie “Marley and Me”? Bobo reminds me of Marley! Haha so we now know

1. Amanda is NOT ready for children!

2. Amanda having another pet, let alone a MONKEY…might be not the smartest idea. I hear that they throw poop, and I definitely wouldn’t have patience for that kinda shit (literally! =)

But I also don’t want the monkey to starve to death….so I’m open to your suggestions on what I should do. It is habituated to living with persons and eating people food at this point. So if we put it BACK where it was found, in the mato, it would die….not to mention…what if the thing BIT me!? Do vaccines for monkeys exist? Here in Mozambique? No, probably not, which is probably why the Peace Corps forbids us to have a monkey….

Presidents and Monkeys. That is the news on my end! =) Bobo is fine; he likes to make a bed out of the trash pit in the back of my house. I continue to find ways to decorate my house even though I keep saying “I’m done!” I can’t help it. I never knew how much I enjoy it! English class this afternoon, people keep wanting to PAY me for the classes! But I say no, I tell them to give me fruit instead! =)

O in case you didn’t know…I’m going to Tanzania in July!!!! Yup, its Peace Corps approved so it’s official. I’m going with another Peace Corps Volunteer, Michael (the guy with the really good blog that makes mine look sad!) and we are meeting up with his mom, Laurie. I’m SO excited! We are gonna be there for 2 WEEKS! We are going to fly from Nampula, as opposed to taking a bug mostly to save time. We are going all over Tanzania, including Zanzabar and a 6 day safari in the Serengeti! =) Ah that is what I’m MOST looking forward to! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go on a safari! And my first one is going to be in the Serengeti, I couldn’t have planned it on my own better! Instead, everything has fallen into being, so terrific!

Well, my reader, my time of writing for now is over. Hope you enjoyed reading this; I’d hate to think I write all this and NO ONE reads it! =/ I would probably cry and never blog again! This might be the longest blog I’ve written yet, so hopefully it didn’t bore.

Goodbye Mr. President, Ate Logo Mr. Monkey, Ciao todos!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Ok, so...there is good news and bad news. Bad news first? Ok well....I havent gotten any packages from friends or family that was sent to me, well I did get ONE from my mom but that was back in November. I almost gave up on the mailing system here, but I had friends who were getting packages, so I decided to test a diff address. Michael let me use his address to see if a package my mom sent would go through...and here is the GOOD news...IT DID!! The package my mom sent got here in TWO MONTHS! It made my MONTH to get this package!! So, please, I hope you havent given up on the system because getting ANYTHING in the mail is SO wonderful, truly it is. And Im sorry for the fact that I havent gotten the other things that you prob put much love into, lets pray those are just...delayed and I will eventually get them (pray they werent TOO lost or stolen!) BUT the new address is:

Amanda James, PCV
Corpo da Paz
C.P 130
Quelimane, Mozambique
So, send me something to this, and I bet Ill get it soon!! =) Will of course let you know!! ps. sorry this is a brief message but I will try to write a better, more detailed blog next time (like my friend Michael, who is so good at keeping up with his blog, even adding crazy things to it, like a chappa clock, things im not nerdy enough to know how to do) =) lol all in love...all in love!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Faith 'n' Bugs

Yesterday was a good day. I went to church with Ofalia, a neighbor of mine, her son Sameul (2) and another neighbor, Angela (8). The church was a typical mud hut that is very common around here. It is small, has one window, and two doors. Not too much ventilation inside of it for the 60 or so people who grew to fill it. And oddly, right when the singing and dancing started up, they CLOSED the doors =/ Air? Not much! But, the music being made, by the two drums and the voices of the congregation were so beautiful that no amount of sweat could have distracted me. It was truly music to my ears, in the most wonderful sense of that saying. When I was in there I thought, these folks get it. It's not about the building, the decorations, the equipment, your clothes, how many bible studies you've led, or how many passages you memorize. Faith is simple. Or at least, it should be. Faith is singing and dancing because you know that you are Beloved and you know that your neighbor is as well. Faith is recognizing the Divine and the Divinity in each and every individual. Why must we so often complicate everything? Stop focusing on WHAT we call God. Stop aruging about everything there is to argue about and let LOVE.

Ok, tangent over =) They had Ofalia, my friend I came with, introduce me to the church. She did and then came my turn to speak. Surprisingly, they all somehow understood my Portuguese. I told them my name and that I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer from the United States of America working as a Community Health Volunteer at Save the Children. The reaction I got lit up my face and still makes me smile! Hallelujahs and Amens and Xena the Warrior Princess' type cries filled the air. People in the room were unfamiliar with Peace Corps, since I'm the first Volunteer at this particular site, but they know Save the Children well and obviously appreciate the work they do in Morrambala. After the cheers were over, I took my seat back on the wooden bench. Soon after they were collecting offering, and I saw very poor people going up to the front, giving. Though what they gave might appear small, I realized how large a sum it actually is for most. And of course, being me, I forgot to bring my bag, thus I had no money, not even ONE met (which = LESS than 1 penny! And ps. you CAN buy food for ONE met.) Well, during the offering many people went to the front to give one or two mets. I sat and quietly took it all in. And then a man came up to me. He smiled and handed me 1 met. He motioned for me to go up to the front to offer this piece. He included me. It was a small act, but it showed so much beauty.

3 hours later from the time it began, goodbyes started. Every single person was greeted and wished blessings with a hand shake. I felt so welcome by this church, by these people. Though I'd only been there one time, I felt connected. It was a good morning! =)

Ok, now if I may, I would like to jump to last night. Let me paint the picture. I'm laying in my bed, under my mosquito net, feeling so glee that the bugs can't reach me in there. Then, I hear...a noise...from up above...on my tin roof. Incase you are unaware, let me rewind to the night where I became easily jumpy thereafter.

Over a week ago now, my friend Zach's brand new MAC laptop was stolen out of my bedroom during the wee hours of the morning. The robber cut through the mosquito netting on the window, opened the latch, then the window. He slipped his arm in through the grates ever so quietly, reached inside and grabbed the silver prize, which was where it never should have been in the first place, by the window, a very tempting place for all robbers around here. All of this was occuring about 4 feet from where I lay...SLEEPING!! =/ That experience scared me enough to get a dog, who is actually a small child locked in a puppy I've named Bobom not much of the ferocious, scary type of canine I was hoping for. I also decided to pay to get better grates installed on all my windows, harder for someone to reach in their arm, even a hand. Ok, house = more secure. BUT I hear this noise on my tin roof get louder and LOUDER. My first thought is...someone is ON my roof. Then, No, it'd be much louder if it were a person. But what IS it then?

Note: I have two lights that I turn on every night, one in the front of the house and one in the back. The lights are supposed to help keep robbers away. Well, thankfully it has been raining here, but the downside (besides the fact that the downpour continues INSIDE my house =( ) are the bugs that come with the rain. First, the mosquitos come and God only knows how much I loathe them! But, these OTHER bugs, apparently there is no name for them in Portuguese, but I was told that in Sienna, the local dialect they are called SIEENA WORD FOR BUG. I also learned the other day that peop le eat these bugs, a snack, similarly to the way you'd pop some trail mix in your mouth =) nice and crunchy! I will try it...and let you know how tasty they are! These bugs ONLY and ALWAYS come after the rain and they have a love obsession with all lights, particularly the lights around MY house. They must be blind, so they see this bright light, and they must get to it.....they gravitate to the light like people gravitate towards turkey on Thanksgiving. That noise grows louder...what is it? What do I do?

I get out from under the safety of my bug trap around my bed, tip toe to the front window, and move the curtain just enough to peak outside. In the darkness of night, with the only visible light being the one in front of my house, a cloud of white, moving back and forth is so large that I can't believe my eyes. Can it be? I squint my eyes to make the view more clear. Thousands of these bugs are swarming my house. I go to the back window and there too peak out. There are so many of these bugs here too that I can't see anything else. The noise that frightened me, was in all actuality thousands of bugs flying around, on, into my house. =/ Gross! These bugs are so strange! Their wings fall off and their bodies completly disappear, no joke. I decided to turn off the outdoor lights, hoping that they would leave in search of new light. As I had guessed these dumb bugs must have been so confused...the clatter grew quieter, till it was just a whisper. Smiling, I crawled back into my net, thinking I'd outsmarted them! =)

The next morning when I opend the doors, leaving the grates with the net still closed of course - I wasn't too surprised to see their leftovers. Thousands upon thousands of WINGS decorated my yard. Where did their bodies go? Who knows-it truly is a mystery. But my yard nonetheless did become their tombstone (note the picture!)

On the topic of bugs, would you say I've adjusted to life here if I've come to accept the bugs accompany my oatmeal every morning? Daily I pour the oats, add some honey and water and little, dead bugs float around. I still have to eait it though. I think if I didn't eat food that didn't have at least some bugs in it, I wouldn't eat at all. It is extra protein right?! Life in M'bala, Zambezia, Mozambique-it's quite the love/hate relationship. Reminds me of Katie Perrie's song "Hot n Cold" yup, that is how I feel about being here...=) Until next time

Love the bug killer,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Roller Coasters

I just re-read that blog from almost two weeks ago, and as true as it was at the time, things have gotten better. Like I said, it is truly the ultimate rollercoaster! Right now it is Sunday, and it's been a lazy morning. I am in the Save the Children guest house in Quelimane laying in bed in the comfort of air conditioner, stepping out of this room feels like I'm entering a sauna! =/ I got here yesterday and leave tomorrow for Mopeia, the other site that has an office in Zambezia besides mine. Those of us in the Home Based Care branch are having meetings and trainings there for the whole week, mostly for the new activistas.

Things in Morrambala have improved a lot! I finally moved into my house, and started to decorate asap. I started to meet a few neighbors, and one of them so happens to be a carpentar, Paulino, and he helped me hammer nails into my walls to hang things. I know how to hammer, in America, lol, but here it's not so easy, of course! When I nail things into the walls all the nails bend, sometimes they bend even when Paulino is pouning them in, but for the most part they obey his better trained hands. Tape doesn't stick to the walls at all, I realized that after taping up a bunch of pictures of friends and family. I'd wake up and find 5 pictures on the ground. Decided it was time to hammer them into the wall. They haven't fallen down sense. With Paulino's help my walls are no longer bare naked, I have things to stare. And I have more pictures hanging up then I ever have before. Ha-that reminds me, Paulino was looking at my pictures, and he asked me if everyone in America was beautiful because everyone in all my pictures were! =) So if you're up haning in my living room, "hallway," or bedroom (which you prob are if you're reading this) people here think you are beautiful! ;)

Then there is this other neighbor, her name is Lena. She lives alone in a mud house, with a straw roof. I haven't met many people up to this point who live alone, I assumed she was def older than me, she seems to mature. Find out one night as we went on a walk, she is only 22 as well! Crazy! She is very sweet, always asks me to come sit in the shade at her house and offers me mangos. PS mangos are overwhelmingly in stock here in Zambezia. Lots of other foods are hard to find, everything depends on the season. I hear we are coming up on avacado season though, o how I hope my site has some! But ya, mangos are everywhere! I wish apples and bananas were everywhere, they are hard to find outside of Quelimane. Plus it has just been so darn DRY here, so hot! No rain, so everything is drying up. People's machambas, which is their plot of land that they grow food on for their families, and hopefully have left overs to sell on the street, well their machambas are dying. Pray for rain, people here need it. And when I say they need it, they don't need it like I need Starbucks, they need it to feed their kids, themselves, they need it to survive.

One more thing I want to tell you about, as I have been meeting more people at site, slowly adjusting, moving into my own place has def been a huge part of being overall more sane, I have made a close new friend. Her name is Ali and she is actually from Barcelona. I hang out with Mozambicans too, obviously, she is the only non-Mozambican friend of mine at site in fact. Anyways, she is wonderful and her and I have been hanging out often, her friendship has made things feel more normal in Morramabala. Plus, she has been there longer so she has been introducing me to other cool people in town. =) I have hung out at night, many a time now thanks to her. And sometimes actually have weekend plans! ;)

Well, in a little bit I will force myself out of this amazingly cool room and walk to the office where I can post this. I hope this finds you well. Thanks for reading it, leave your comments, it makes me feel more connected to home when I hear from people! And what your responses are to what I'm saying, almost as if we are talking! =) Wish me luck in Mopeia, I will be going back to my site next Saturday, back to my new home. =)

One love,

The HARDEST job you'll ever love....

January 4th, 2010

What am I doing here? You think this is all one huge adventure. Maybe that is because I put up the pictures where I am laughing, not where I'm crying. You see me with friends, not me alone in the guest house room for what feels like the billionth time. Someone I talked to recently said my pictures and my blogs show the good times, not the bad, so here I am to write the other side of how things are REALLY going.

Well, I'm back at site, alone. The closest volunteer to me is a 3 hour, stressful chappa ride away. And let me tell you, the chappa experience is unlike anything I can even try to describe to you. So, I'll save that till next time....I live in a small, rural village, and when I walk around I feel like a complete outsider. Everyone stares at me, and I know it's because of my skin. I feel like I'm the only white person the people in my village have ever seen. They stare, but don't say hello. I have never felt like such alien in all my life. Sometimes I don't want to leave this guest house because I don't want to be stared at, I don't want to stand out. I don't have any food in the kitchen here, since I just got back from being with other volunteers for New Year's, but I dread walking to the market to buy any food. It takes so much out of me to walk around here. Not to mention it is blazing hot, and I'd rather sit here by the fan, the coolest place I can be. I don't want to sit here and complain about everything, but at the same time I want to be able to be honest and real with you, whoever you are who is reading this and know that life here is HARD!

I have definitely had many moments of "Why am I here? I want to go back home!" And we are allowed to early terminate whenever we want. Last week, over the phone I helped a girlfriend NOT go back to America. And now I sit here and am wishing I could go home. I choose not to though, because I know I would eventually regret it. So, today the office I work at re opened after break. I sit in there, and then I sit some more. Right now, I'm unsure what to do, and my colleges are unsure of what to do with me as well. I am the first volunteer at this site, and the first volunteer with Save The Children. Lately I have been regretting the fact that I didn't request to REPLACE a past volunteer. If you replace someone you often get a home that isn't bare ass naked at least. They have someone already lined up to help them get water. On that note, let me tell you DON'T take your running water for granted! You might think that if you were me you would want to go and walk 10 min to the nearest well, to get water for cooking, bathing, cleaning, laundry; trust me you wouldn't want to. So after sitting for 3 hours in the office, I'm told we are going to go look at my "house" that has NOT been ready. Mind you, I believe I might be the LAST volunteer who hasn't moved into their house yet because it hasn't been ready. We walk over there. The yard is CHAOS! Trash everywhere, bricks, millions of bricks in tons of random piles everywhere is the only "decor." The house is grey, because the owner of the house ran out of the money they were given to fix it up. Yes, Save the Children paid in full for two years. And surprise surprise the owner "ran out," though that was impossible because he was given more than enough money to fix up the inside and the outside. So the outside=a sad, ugly mess. Ok, go inside. It looks better than the last time I saw it, at least its been pained, and its not the ugly gray. Its white, better than nothing. Though whoever painted it left dirt marks in many places of the white wall. Two men I work with were inspecting the house to see if it was ready to be moved into.

Paint this picture. The house is four walls. It has 3 rooms, bigger than one person needs, particularly one person who has NOTHING to furnish the place with, nor the $ to buy things to furnish this rather large home. This casa, which maybe one day I will actually move into, is totally and completely EMPTY! You think empty and still might think of closes ts, drawers, your basic storage places, ya?! NO! When I say "EMPTY" I mean that there is nothing but the walls and the floor. Zip. Nada. Zero! lol I laugh, in a this is gonna be my home for the next two years...what am I doing? O and I mentioned no water in the house ya?! So, I am now on the scout for someone to help me lug water to my house. And my colleagues are trying to help me find such a person, but they want a trustworthy, good person. I would like that too, BUT this is gonna take more TIME! TIME TIME TIME TIME! Everything here takes TIME! and then o wait...MORE TIME! If you know me, I'm not the most patient of persons, so this only adds to difficulties that life present me with here. I cry rather randomly, for example, after that visit to my empty, bare, dirty walled, messy yarded house, I just had to come back to the guest house and let out a good cry. I should prefer to stay in this guest house. It has furniture, it has running water, and a refrigerator (a luxury I will NOT have here in Moz). But all I want to do is try to make a "home." To hang some pictures of those I love, to hang up my Beatles poster I brought from home, or the California license plate I took from my mom and Al's garage (an old one!)

The newness, the excitingness of everything being so incredibly different has died.Maybe the Peace Corps won't like me posting this, because it paints things to be "bad," to be honest, I wish I would've read something like this though, to at least mentally prepare me for how HARD it would be! I knew it's gonna be an adventure, but I didn't quite understand that that meant I would be on an extreme roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs, highs and lows, so content and wanting to quit. No one told me the intense amounts of loneliness I'd go through, the horrible frustration of feeling so isolated, I just didn't know. I think my frustration has calmed down some, I just took a break to make some lunch. All I had here was pasta and butter, lol, it was not a very good meal, but drowning it in seasoning made it eatable. =/

I think this is the end of this little entry. I'm not quitting, I was just letting you know that it's far from being all fun and easy here. You know that saying, "Don't just sit there, do something!"? Well, to survive here you have to learn the motto a tad differently, "Don't just do something, SIT there!" I sit a looooooot.....that is what people do here! Anyways, I prob should read something positive right now, prob should also meditate, did I mention I bought a guitar over the weekend in Quelimane, so that I could not just SIT and do nothing. So that I could learn to play? Did I mention that I was tuning it here at site yesterday and broke a string, cuz I don't know how to tune it, they sell guitars here but of course they don't sell strings or tuners, silly to think they would! And I could play the 5 remaining strings, but they are also out of tune, and I'm too afraid of breaking another string. =( so my blue guitar sits there in front of me, wishing to be played, but it can't be. lol it is learning to just SIT, just like me! Ok, wish me luck, luck that I will focus on one day at a time. I can't think of life in a two year span, or I might go even more crazy. What's interesting, is that I won't be able to post this for at least a month. So shall see what all has changed, if anything, by then. O God I pray things will have moved along somewhat though...o how I pray...

Roller coaster junkie,

ps. One more thing, if all of this wasn't stressful enough, don't forget this is ALL happening in a foreign language. Yes, I can communicate in Portuguese, but when things are stressful plus the heat, it's like my mind completely forgets any Portuguese and everyone sounds like those teachers from the "Peanuts" where it's just noise coming out, but nothing makes sense. =/ and there is also the local language to learn, Senna, and lots of people talk in that around me, and it isn't anything like Portuguese or any other language I've ever heard. Just thought I'd throw that one more LOOP at ya! One day I'll look back on all this and laugh, right?!