Last night I went up to Inhambane and spent the night with a Lauren, a PCV who lives there, so I could go to the bank first thing in the morning to close out the REDES grant from last year (since we can’t receive our next grant until this one is closed. The REDES account, and mine too actually, is a Barclays account, and Inharrime has two banks but neither of them are Barclays). I needed to transfer the leftover money from our account back into the PAO’s (Public Affairs Office of the US Embassy) which is inconveniently at a different bank, complicating the process. Even though I was all prepared with the official form, the man said it would take a few days to make sure the other end received the transfer and I should just stop by next week. I explained that I live 90k away, so just “passing by” the bank isn’t that simple. They said I should just go to Quissico which has a Barclays bank and is only 40k away. I laughed and said they don’t even have a computer in that bank, how would they know if this bank-to-bank electronic transfer had actually gone through? I think the guy took pity on me because he took my number and told me he would call once the transaction was complete, and he also agreed to fax the confirmation of transfer to the PAO.
After the bank I ran a few errands, getting the things we can’t get in Inharrime. Things like canned chickpeas (we are making hummus on Saturday), good hot sauce, balsamic vinegar, yogurt, and Styrofoam cups (for our upcoming Women’s Day Celebration). Last stop, I went to pick up all 50 t-shirts for our women’s day celebration which turned out really nicely. (Ann, Erin, and I paid 150 Meticais for each of these 50 shirts which we will charge each of our REDES participants 10 Meticais for and each woman in the community 20 Meticais for. We are more than happy to make this sacrifice since my girls are incredibly excited about the shirts and our Women’s Day Celebration is looking to be fantastic. But we are Peace Corps Volunteers and $75 is more than a fourth of our monthly salary…so if anyone out there would like to help us finance the t-shirts we will happily accept your help!)
I wore my backpack on this trip since I knew I would be returning with so many things, though I usually avoid using my backpack at all costs, even if it means having to use one or two huge shoulder bags. My capulana bag allows me to fit in as much as my light skin will allow. But a backpack screams tourist and when I wear one, it seems as if even people in my own town don’t recognize me.
I got a ride home with someone very very high up in the government. At one point a policeman at the police checks they have everywhere here waved him over but he sped up and blared his horn at the policeman scoffing, “they can’t order this car to stop!” He told me about a year he spent in America. Apparently the US State Department sponsored a year in America for representatives from a ton of different countries (Mozambique, Swaziland, Sri Lanka, Puerto Rico, Senegal, etc), and they spent the year in tons of different places in the states (everywhere from Washington D.C. to San Francisco to Reno to Des Moine), seeing how life, jobs, and government in America work. He was in Texas when 9/11 happened. I was interested to hear about these things happening by our government in our own country that we never even know about. He started talking politics and was telling me about a beautiful speech that Obama gave in Brazil. “We Africans liked Bush” he said “because he gave Africa tons of money! But now Obama doesn’t have any money.”