Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Thoughts in Barada

Walking through those straight lines of coconut trees that only a mans hand could create, too crisp for the scattered seeds of natures unpredictable wind, brillinatly tall smooth bark. Magnificient. But, not like the wise pines i know so well, thick barried deep in Vermont woods, these treees are clean, the ground strewn with dry damp palm branches, I step on the stems to soften my step. I can see a time ago where they used these same palms to make bow and arrows, as the tired rembremts of the life above ease each passing step, aiding my feet along the sandy path, they secure another prupose today. Braided together to form the walls in which life is lived, culture is formed, my hnd not capable of creating such strength and beauty. These cocunt trees are life in Barada, there fruit nuirshed the peoule, the hard exterior creates roads, the leaves the bark makes shelter, the excess provides income.

The near destruction of a small fishing village

The Eve before Christmas in Barada (a small fishing village only accesiable by a 2 hour boat ride in open ocean. The boat being 40 feet long 10 feet wide made of wood, carrying 50 people, 4 goats, countless chickens, and atleast 2 screaming babies) letºs recount the days events:

Woke up at 6:50 after sleeping a restless night on an estara, reed mat, on a cement floor, half covered by my capulona (make shift mosquito net), after a night of terrifyying dreams, mixed with some truth, of ants passing over my flesh, sprung out of bed with the rootsters cry. With a parched mouth and an unfortunate smell to my body, i looked at the water drum, which off course ws practically empty... looks like my amigas and I would be making another trip to the bumba= imagine a manual pump that brings rain water out of the ground. The rains have come late this seson so the well is really low anda requires a manual bucket and rope, throwing a yellow badone down a 40 foot hole..

We watied patiently for tthe rope to tightetn, knot by knot green plastic ran through my fingers, suddenly splash, sucess water! Thats when i had the rude awakening, this is not a quaint cross cultural experience, I need this water to drink, to eat, to bath. The yellow badone down the well 3 or 4 times until my 25 gallon bnucket was frull, each time waiting in anticipation for the slack to tighten, contact to be made. My bucket now brimming with unrefined water, with pride and a bit of bashfulness I hosted the bucket to my shoulder, as I have not developed the musecles in my neck to crrry it on my head. With both arms steadying the precious load, eyes focused, feet shffeling quickly thorugh the sand, grimacing under the akward weight, but knowing this was the only option, and the process would have to be repeated several more times.

Bucket #2

But round 2 I dropped that g=d d=am yellow badone down the well, that cheap plastic rope slipped right through my tired fingers. The Livelyhood of the small fishing village of Barrada flashed before my eyese, headlines of the following days noticias appeard in bold letters WHITE GIRLS FAILED ATTEMPT OF PROCURING WATER CAUSES DEHYDRATION AND DEATH, (The Onion subheadline, couldn~t she have afforded the bottled water). Panicking, Freda, my best friend who lives in Barada, slaped her head, sighed and disbelief then immediatlygoing into strategic mode, Letºs use the palm leaves from the cocunt trees to braid rope. but with each twist of the bread, primarily due to make lack of craftmanship, crumpled leaves fell from my hand. With her NYC pessimism, cherp3d its not going to work, a silent, anxious, and most likely pissed mocambiquan evaluated the situation, then wandered off... Then we noticed a long stick with a nail in it, a light bulb appeared above this natures wonder, and I had a reaction that could be compated to the sighting of the holy grail.

I could write the wrong, safe the fishing village, with unbridled enthusiasim i plunged that smooth cocunt branch into the well and with slow unbelievable attention to detail I got the yellow baldone and silently celebrated my small victory on Christms eve.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

And away she goes...

Well the first leg of my peace corps adventure is coming to a close but, in typical chelsea fashion, not absent of debacles and diabotuary. The last week of peace corps training can be equated to senior week in college in a country where there are no open container laws. So I passed my Portuguese proficiency test, and all 40 molungos had to do was celebrate, and celebrate we did. Frequenting all the discotecas and barracas Boane has to offer. Our adventures encompassed Peace Corps goals of cross cultural exchange, whether it be teaching a group of mai's the Macaranea, in exchange for learning local dance, swapping drinking games with the Pai's not suprisingly Kings is quite popular here, or showing the criancas (kids) a new move or to on the futebal field.

All in all training has been quite amazing. I feel so blessed, yes I am using the word blessed, to describe the Peace Corps staff in Mozambique- they are down to earth, really truly believe in the tenets of grassroots movements, always soliciting our feedback and putting our suggestions in to action. The language trainers are superb, will absolutely ride our assºs on pronunciation, but an hour later we will be chatting easily with them over a beer, where the skeptically tell us the naughtyPortuguesee words saying.

And who know how amazing mocambique is as a country...Thee people are so genuine and relaxed.Thiss country is absent of ethnic and religious tension, truly amazing. The longer I spend here the moreIi come to believe that there recent violent history ismischaracterizedd as a civil war--- its was other countrys ideology-- racist ideology driving and funding the rebels-- but perhaps more importantly those who joined renamo were not ascribing to the ideology but rather were the estranged rural population of mocambique who sought to fulfill their basic needs, and Renamo who scarred the memeories of so many, for raiding and pillaging villages were able to provide food and land. The lack of and distruction of infrastructure during that time is so telling, I'm reading a book now A Complicated War which i highly suggest, that interviewsdisplacedd rural people post renamo invasion of there town. The majority them did not know the difference between Renamo and Frelimo (the governing power who freed them from Portugueses colonization), had never heard of Somara Michel, the president of Mocambique. Truly astonishing, the poorest citizens bearing the brunt of a outside funded war, who did not know enough even to determine who to pledge their allegiace to. Now, nobody likes to talk about the war, its as if people have locked the door and throne away the key. Mocambiquans are famous for understating the situations that they have sufferend through and problems that thy face today. (another example there was a deadly drought in sofala where many people died, and when i inquired about the gravity of the situation, people referred to as a bit of a dry spell, nao problema!?!?) This lack of attentioun to detail has proven a bit frusterating for me (a bit ironic)... inquring minds always want to know.
(ok so that was a bit of a tangent)

So to quickly recap the last 72 hours of my life
1. I got really really really sick, my doctor thinks it was 3 back to back cases of food posioning... just imagine wierd colors and uncomfortable textures pretty consisently coming out of anywhere you can imagine. But now worries Cipro did the trick and I was good to go to for swearing in!
2. I am officially a Peace Corprs Vol, i was sworn in a the ambassador house, really really chique swanky party with all thministers of educatioun, where i vowed to protect the constiutioun of america (same oath the military takes, yes, it made me feel extremly uncomfortable)
3. Then we went to this sweet resort in the mountains, where we all had to shell out $20 to spend the night-- but this place was off the heazy, 2 bedroom apt, full kitchen, living room... so we lugged in lots of food and drink and partied until the sun came up!
4. Monday I fly to Dondo Sofala (the running joke is they sent me to Sofala becase (so fala = only talks, aka i talk a lot) to begin my new life!

life is calling how far will you go?