Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Way We Get By


I’m back in Maputo. Swear-In was yesterday and most people left this morning for their regional supervisor’s conference. Seven of us are staying another night here before flying out early tomorrow morning. We are actually staying at Hoya-Hoya again which is the hotel I was in during those first orientation days before Namaacha. It’s slightly surreal. Combine that with the fact that I’m an emotional wreck and you can imagine my current condition. It feels amazing to have gotten through these nine intense weeks of training and be an official Peace Corps Volunteer. I’m ready to get to Manica and be just days away from being at site but nervous to start all over again and not have anyone to show me the ropes. I’m slightly depressed after saying goodbye to so many of my friends this morning not knowing how long it will be before I will see them again. I’m completely satisfied after having two amazing meals of Thai food and a swanky night in a 5-star hotel. And I’m excited to get to look through my 2-year bag after wearing the same clothes for the past nine weeks. My stunted emotional maturity can’t quite handle all this.

But backing up a few days, we closed PST on Thursday with a hub day at the IFP in Namaacha, went out to our usual barraca for a drink and went home for our last night with our families. Throughout the week we had our boxes and big suitcases picked up, so we just had our carry-ons when we left Namaacha Friday morning. Our swearing in ceremony was held at the ambassador’s house overlooking the water in Maputo. The ambassador, our country director, a couple trainees and someone from the Ministry of Education all spoke and we were officially sworn in. We took the same oath that members of the Foreign Service, military and all government employees take so it was a slightly daunting moment. In the spirit of cultural exchange we had prepared a song and some of us learned a traditional dance and chant. Then it was a little cocktail hour so we could get pictures and talk with our language and tech trainers one last time. Peace Corps spoiled us by putting us up in the Hotel Cardoso and letting us pretend for a night that we weren’t about to head out into the unknowns of Moçambique. A few of us went out to pick up Thai and were able to relax for a bit before partying the night away in the hotel with everyone. Knowing the morning would be hard enough, we tried to focus on having fun and being together rather than moping about the impending separation. We got hot showers, comfy beds, English TV shows and an incredible breakfast buffet. Groups were heading out in shifts starting at 5am towards their regional capitals for their Supervisor’s conference but most of us were splitting up between 8:30 and 10am. Everyone was gathered in the lobby, bags packed, hugging and crying as we said goodbye to our friends before they left. I was doing okay until our cars showed up early and we were frantically saying bye so they could get back to the hotel and take others to the airport. I turned around and my friend Meagan was standing on the bottom step looking overwhelmed, I caught her eyes and we both just starting bawling. She’s headed out to the coast of Zambezia Province and is a serious chapa ride away from me in Dombe. We’ve gotten each other through a lot and it sucks to get ripped apart just when we need that support most. I’m lucky enough to be going into this with a roommate so at least I’m not completely alone.  With such a big group we have naturally formed cliques but those melted away as we sought out those people who will be the furthest away.  It’s entirely possible that I won’t see some of them until our Close-of-Service (COS) conference in the fall of 2012. The distance factor can be disheartening but it’s always possible to see people if you make the effort. I will see my closest friends even if they are in the far corners of this rather large country and a 15 hour chapa ride away!  Anyway, we were raced over to Hoya-Hoya only to learn that we probably wouldn’t be able to check in for another couple hours. Exhausted and slightly hung-over, we sat around in the dark lobby, laughed at ourselves and how ridiculous we must look and napped until we got our rooms. Eventually we made it out for another amazing meal of Thai food and ice cream. In the morning we will catch our flight up to Chamoio and meet either our counterparts or school directors at the conference. Because Mona and I are just two and a half hours south of the city we should get to our site by Wednesday. Hopefully we’ll learn a little more about our house and have an opportunity to buy a few essentials so we can actually function and eat when we get there.  Because it’s a school holiday, lots of people travel for the holidays and most of our villages will be pretty empty. I imagine the nuns at our school don’t take off so we should have at least a school community around.

I don’t know, it’s quite the transitional time around here. My emotions are running on high, my life is about to change dramatically again and I’m headed into the holiday season without my family around. Apparently one of the toughest times during service is when you have to watch that Peace Corps truck drive away leaving you at your site alone. I guess we’ll see how that goes here in a couple days…


  1. Just talking to you via SKYPE was the most wonderful thing that has happened to me in the last nine weeks! I am so hoping you will have Skype at your new site so I can "see" you more often. Couldn't be more proud of you for your honesty and how you handle it all .... I am in awe of how brave you are!!!!!!!

  2. I was just driving out to Granny's to finish working on her computer. It is snowing here, a rare event before Christmas in recent years. I was thinking of you and the coming season and how very brave you are to do what you are doing, knowing you would miss these big events. So reading this I am thinking of you more than ever, praying for your safety and for your happiness. Hope you can feel the hugs and love!

  3. Hey Em,

    I have tried several times to post a comment- hope it works this time. You are far more resilient than me to be adapting to all of this change. I can go for a week or two to third world conditions but that is about all I can stand. I so admire you for giving more than two years of your life to this. We will have much to share when you get back to the beach. Let us know as soon as you can about the mail situation where you are going. I have much to wqrite you about.

    Love, Uncle Steve