Tomorrow the Peace Corps is picking up all of our bags except one small one to deliver them to our sites. I gave my family my thank you present today: a balloon kit and truck and helicopter toys for the boys, a notebook and bracelet for my 13 year old girl cousin, tea for my grandma, a bracelet and earrings and a ring for my mom, and a framed picture of me with everyone, a decorative fan, and some Hershey’s chocolate for the whole family. It was a little sad but they really seemed to like the gifts, especially the boys who, in true Mozambican form, had broken the toys before I left the house this afternoon (Mozambican kids destroy everything they touch). The homestay experience is a trying one, but I really lucked out in getting a wonderful family. My mom, my three year old brother (her son), and his dad are going to Inhambane after Christmas to visit his family, so they are planning to visit me at my new house. My mom asked me what the name of one of my colleagues was. I told her and told her that he speaks Portuguese really well, and she said “well so you do,” it was really sweet.
Last weekend while on our 11 mile walk, we discovered a grove of mango trees that beautiful, peaceful, and seems like it is straight out of a fairy tale. The branches of mango trees are perfect for climbing and sitting in, so we went back to that grove today and spent the afternoon sitting in the trees and reading. I finished one of the most moving and profound books I have ever read called All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald, which I recommend everyone to read. You will especially appreciate it if you’re Irish. I was hardly able to put it down and it brought me to tears many times. And while I am recommending books, two other great books I have read while are: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing and Africa: a Biography of the Continent by John Reader.