‘Tis the season, which seems to mean two things here. First, you see people everywhere walking around holding squawking chickens, ducks, and turkeys as people prepare for their big meals. It also means that the police are extra extra vigilant, because catching someone doing something they aren’t supposed to be doing means a chance to ask for a bribe. Thus, more often than normal, foreigners are asked for their papers, speeding cars are stopped, and all commercial vehicles (including chapas) are stopped to show their registrations. When I was in a chapa a few days ago we were stopped at a police checkpoint and the conductor threw the driver a 100 Meticais bill to put inside the registration he handed the policeman. Today I was talking to a vendor at a stand when one of his buddies from a few stands down yelled “make sure you charge the foreigner extra!” The man I was talking to giggled nervously and said “he thinks you don’t speak Portuguese.”
One of the sisters asked about how Christmas is celebrated in the states. I told her that on Christmas eve my family would eat dinner before and then go to mass at 10pm or so. She said that they used to have midnight mass here too, actually at midnight, but that changed during the civil war because it was unsafe for anyone to be out at night. So during the war Christmas eve mass was changed to 7pm or earlier and now it just continues to be at that time. It’s crazy to realize how the civil war could affect all levels of society and people’s everyday lives, and how it still continues to do so.