Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Last night we all went to dinner in town: Erin, Ann and me, Donna and Luis who were in town visiting, one of our friends from Inharrime, Sandra, who we buy our vegetables from, and Gil, a Portuguese guy living and working in Inharrime. Donna speaks very impressive Xitswa (the local language where she lives) so she and Sandra were speaking to each other in local language—a mixture because Sandra lives here and thus speaks Txopi, but she is originally from an area where they speak Bitonga, and both are fairly close to Xitswa. My Txopi is not conversational like Donna’s is, so I would just pick out the occasional words and phrases I knew. When we hang out with Gil we normally speak in English because his Portuguese accent is so strong it’s easier to understand his English than it is for us to understand his Portuguese. Plus, he makes fun of our “bush Portuguese.” But tonight Sandra would yell at us to speak in Portuguese so she could understand. Idurre and Oscar, two Spanish volunteers from the mission, came to the restaurant to eat so they joined our table. Donna and Luis, both Latino, love the opportunity to speak Spanish, so they kept switching into Spanish with them, though their Spanish differs greatly from Spain Spanish. And thus we had a great mixture of languages. Sandra was quizzing Ann’s Txopi and asked where she works. Ann didn’t know the word for hospital, so Sandra said it. I shook my head, “that’s not hospital in Txopi, you must be speaking Bitonga.” “That was ballsy!” Oscar said to me.
While Ann and I were waiting for the others to arrive we were sitting out in front of the restaurant on the main street. A kid selling corn on the cob saw us and started yelling at us unnecessarily loudly to buy some. I teasingly yelled back equally unnecessarily loudly and we kept this banter up for a while. “Hey hey come grab some corn” he kept yelling. Then a teenage boy selling phone credit yelled “hey mulungu, com grab this” and grabbed his balls. I jumped up “are you **** kidding me?! Do you not have any respect?!” The lady standing next to him selling things whacked him and then yelled to me “no, he doesn’t have any respect.” A whole chorus of women selling things then began to reprimand him loudly and he, apparently embarrassed or sorry, vanished within seconds. I was happy to see people defend me .
Last night Gil was using his phone as a flashlight and dropped it into Ann’s latrine. He was upset because the sim card in that phone was the one from Portugal. I called my colleague who knows everyone and the next day he came over with two guys who said they could get it would for 200 mets (about $7). They tied a hoe to a long palm tree branch and got it out—the whole process took about 4 minutes! They actually got the phone to turn on again, but we just put it quickly in a plastic bag to give back to Gil.
Tonight we were making onion rings (thus deep-frying in oil) on charcoal outside. The fire had gotten a little too hot so Erin left it to cool down for a few minutes. Then we looked outside and there was a huge fire blazing---the coals, the stove itself, the pot, the oil. Two years ago Ann and I set my wall on fire and our reaction was panic and for Ann to frantically ask where the fire extinguisher was (the only ones I have ever seen in this country are at South African houses/lodges). Tonight Ann’s reaction was to laugh out loud and shout “quick, who has a camera? Someone get a camera!”
On my way home one of my primary school REDES girls yelled out to me and waved as I passed. She was sober and didn’t seem to be up to anything too bad, but it made me feel sick to see this 5th grader (she is 14 years old) out on the street at 10:30pm on a Saturday night 3 miles from her home (she lives near the mission).

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