Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June 16, 2007

Mozambique ABCs

  1. “A final?” a frequent expression we hear that literally means “the end” but is used as “really?”
  2. Bicycle. The only real farm truck around. People carry everything from their fields with this contraption. I once saw a man with his son on the front and his wife on the back with the baby. It must have been the whole family.
  3. Capulanas. The traditional 2 meter length of fabric used as a skirt, head covering, baby carrier, cover for food, blanket, etc.
  4. Delton. Noemia’s 18 month old son who is constantly peaking over her shoulder when he is on her back. He’s beginning to feel comfortable in our house and is beginning to get into things. We have a few toys for him and after he leaves we find wooden blocks in places we didn’t even think he was in.
  5. Elephants. Apparently they exist in Mozambique, but not where we have seen them. Gorongosa National Park is supposed to be a haven for them. There are also lions, baboons and other monkeys in the park.
  6. Fourteen. The hour when most everything occurs in society, stores reopen, meetings are held, the hottest part of the day is subsiding, it’s okay to visit someone at that time.
  7. Glass. I took a chocolate cake to a women’s function in a pyrex baking dish. The women were surprised that there is glass that can withstand heat.
  8. Hair. Women do their hair in so many different ways. As I walk, I often see several women or girls sitting together doing each other’s hair. When people have disposable income, they buy extensions and make little tiny braids. I’m told that women can not grow their hair long so they use extensions. Men go to a barber and get it shaved. Joél went a few times and they used the electric razor on his hair too. It didn’t look as suave as Mozambican’s hair.
  9. Ice cream. We have found a few places that sell ice cream. Granted, it’s not Liks in Denver, but one place in Beira has vanilla ice cream that tastes how I imagine God wanted vanilla to taste. It’s a good treat once in a while.
  10. Jovens. Youth group at church. They meet every Saturday afternoon at 14:00. They study the Bible and prepare their songs for the next day. Sometimes they visit people in the community to evangelize.
  11. Kites. Children make kites out of paper bags, twigs and strings. As we walk to church we frequently see children flying their homemade kites or fixing them
  12. Loud. This is the loudest place I have ever lived. There is rarely silence. Sometimes I try to count all the noises that I hear. Once I got up to 7. Usual noises are roosters crowing, goats bleating, dogs barking, people yelling, tractor trailers driving past, flip flops walking past, neighbor’s radios, women washing cloths, women pounding corn, babies crying, grass burning (controlled burns) and the chapas attracting business by beeping their horns. I thought it would be quieter in the middle of the night, it is but once I was up at 3 AM and people were still talking outside and roosters were still crowing.
  13. Massa, shima, sadza, the name for the corn meal mush that is a staple in Mozambican’s diets. It’s served at every church function that involves a meal. People ground their corn into flour and make it with boiling water. There is an art to it, which we are still discovering. You can’t use a metal spoon and you have to know just the right amount of water and flour or it’s not right.
  14. “Nada” the response used when there isn’t something. It’s actually used more frequently than “não” (no).
  15. Occupations. In our MCC orientation in Akron, PA, we were challenged to make a list of occupations or how people make money for themselves. The presenter told us that poor people do a lot of work earn money. Here’s some occupations we encounter in the community and in the church: barber, butcher, housekeeper, fruit seller, water carrier, shop keeper, chapa (buses here) driver, cobrador (collects the fare on chapas), tailor, baker, grass mat maker, teacher, farmer, vendor in the market, and many more.
  16. Peace Corp We are getting to know a few Peace Corp workers. One lives down the road from us; another lived with a fellow MCCer in Chimoio. It’s been good to get to know other people committed to living in the community, doing service and learning all they can.
  17. Questions. We have so many questions about how to do our work. We want to make a difference and to be servants, but also have questions of empowerment, dependency, sustainability. What does it mean to be generous in a place so different? How do we understand the ways culture impacts people’s relationships (ours included)? How do we form positive relationships across difference?
  18. Running Water Gondola, though a substantial sized town, does not have a public water system. The few houses that do have running water have a large black tank on the roof or a nearby tower that is hooked up to a pump into a well that gives the house running water by gravity. For the rest of us, it’s carry 20 liter water jugs. I’m so thankful for someone who carries it for me.
  19. Shona. The mother language of Shiutewe and a predominant language in this area. We are trying to learn some of the local dialect but it’s difficult because Shiutewe is a conglomerate of other languages. We’re probably going to end up learning Shona because we can find some books to study. It’s one of the predominate languages in neighboring Zimbabwe. As we meet more Zimbabweans, we find out that few speak Portuguese but they are still able to get around in Mozambique because of Shona.
  20. Telenovelas. Mozambicans who have a television like watching Brazilian telenovelas. They are different than soap operas in the States in that they are only run for about 3 months with a definite beginning and ending point. While we lived with our host family, we bonded with them by watching one of the current ones just before supper each night.
  21. Umbrelas. It’s not the rainy season any more but I see just as many umbrellas. They are used for shading women as they walk with their babies or keeping the sun off fresh fruits sold by the side of the road.
  22. View. The view out our back porch is breath taking. On really clear days we can see a very distant mountain range. Most mornings we wake up to seeing a cloud of fog settled over the valley descending from our house (we live on a top of a hill). We overlook much of Gondola and can see the church from our veranda. (A few times we have used binoculars to check if people have arrived before we leave our house for church.) At night, because most of Gondola doesn’t have electricity, we can see the stars well.
  23. War. Mozambique suffered many years of war from the mid-1960s to the early 1990s. People are still recovering. They don’t talk about it a lot and many people we know were small children when it ended. People older than 25 talk more about it and how the country side suffered. We sometimes see buildings that still have that “bombed out” look. However, people are making strides to recover what was lost. They have hope for a better future and know that the suffering caused by the war was too much to repeat it again.
  24. Xixi Portuguese for the letter “x” pronounced “sheeshee”. Used to signify the topic or thing or amount in question.
  25. Yellow, teal and blue. The two cell phone companies seem to have a competition to see how many buildings they can get painted with their colors and ads. It certainly brightens buildings up between a fresh coat of paint and bright yellow and teal or royal blue.
  26. Zimbabwe. We live about an hour away from the Zimbabwean border. People tell us that there are more Zimbabweans coming into the country and settling around here (probably because they can communicate in Shona). Most MCCers in Mozambique go there for vacation.