As Peace Corps Trainees and Volunteers we are strictly strictly prohibited from being involved in any political activities (penalty: next plane state-bound). We shouldn’t even, for example, passively observe a political rally. The Peace Corps can’t risk being suspected of being an intelligence agency or anything of the sort. PC was kicked out of Russia due to suspicions and that is just a huge loss for those people who are no longer benefitting from able, eager, and trained volunteers there. Mozambique elections are coming up on October 28th which is very exciting. Mozambique had a civil war for 17 years following independence so peace and democratic elections are much more appreciated here than in the U.S. Also there is a new third party, MDM (democratic movement of Mozambique), in this election and it’s the first time ever that there has been a viable third party. On Sunday there was a huge Frelimo (the party in power) rally downtown which some volunteers got unknowingly taken to or otherwise encouraged to attend. Every day you can see motorcycles drive by with a huge Frelimo flag on the back and I just heard a Frelimo truck with huge speakers drive by. The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel alert for this period of time and the Peace Corps will be implementing the Emergency Action Plan from October 19-November 6 meaning that all volunteers must stay at their sites and cannot travel, but everything seems pretty safe and civil so far.
Mozambique tends to be a very patriarchal culture. We were given a “Homestay Portuguese Cheat Sheet” with all the terms and phrases former volunteers thought were essential and one of the terms was “casa dois”—literally second house. This refers to the fact that many men here have a casa dois. For example, two other trainees share live next door to each other and share the same host father but have different host mothers and siblings. This phenomenon of multiple concurrent partners is also one of the factors behind the huge HIV/AIDS epidemic. I am a little glad that my host home doesn’t have any males (other than the 3 and 7 year olds). Many trainees eat at the table with their host father and perhaps a host older brother, while the mother and kids eat on the floor in another room. One current volunteer who was in this position during her homestay asked her host father if she could eat with the mother and the children, she was told no.