Friday, June 1, 2012
So much to catch up on these past few weeks! April was Blog About Malaria Month, as I’m sure you noticed, with the goal of raising awareness about malaria that culminated with World Malaria Day on April 25th. I was incredibly busy during that month checking in with all the PCVs who told me they were doing malaria activities to hear how they went, get information for write-ups, gather pictures, and post all of this on the http://stompoutmalaria-mozambique.tumblr.com/ webpage. Somehow I thought that things would calm down after April ended, but instead my job finally kicked into full gear and I have been crazy busy. But in a good way, because I love what I am doing and it has been a great learning experience for me. I was traveling back down to Maputo from Massinga after the PIRCOM training sitting on an extremely “cozy” bus when I felt something brush against my leg. I jumped, then shrugged it off and ignored it the first few times. Eventually I was curious enough to try to find out what it was, but between all the bags, sacks of coconuts, people, more bags, and bundles of cassava, there was no way I could see under my seat. “Is there an animal under my seat?” I asked the woman next to me. She laughed at me and assured me that no, it was just baggage or maybe the person behind me kicking me. She announced this exchange in local language to the people around us on the bus and everyone got a good chuckle. Hours later (probably about 400 kilometers later) whatever was under my seat had brushed against my leg too many times to accept that it wasn’t alive, so I wiggled my arm down and felt around, probably not as nervous as I should have been about what I would find. “There IS a cat down here!” I exclaimed to my seatmate. She was surprised and asked if I was sure. Only at this point did the guy behind us decide to speak up and confirm that yes, he was traveling with a cat he had put under the seat. A few weeks ago on our way to Vilanculos for a beach weekend we caught a ride with a very nice and interesting Zimbabwean man who works in Mozambique and was on his way home to visit his family. About 20 minutes after he dropped us off Maddie, another PCV, said “Scooter, why are you calling me?” I reached into my back and realized, with a sinking heart, that my phone was still in the nice man’s car. I talked to him and we arranged to meet up when he returned from his holiday 10 days later. I shrugged, “oh well, I guess I won’t have a phone until then!” One of the other PCVs there, who only just arrived in October of the past year, shook his head at me, saying “you have been here too long! You should really be more upset about losing your phone!” Fast-forward 11 phoneless days (during which I only missed it a few times) and I successfully got my phone back! It’s nice not to have to spend money on a new phone, but it was truly a blessing to not lose all my contacts. On one of my travels north of Maputo I arrived at the “Junta” (literally the joint/connection) which is the Maputo bus terminal. Which in this case means a large, chaotic, trash-covered, unpaved area where 50ish buses cram in and move around and bus drivers shout and people are trying to sell you everything from earrings to toilet paper or friend chicken meals. It’s a very aggressive scene, you have to be aware of your bags at all times and guys from different buses will fight to get passengers on their own vehicles. I dread going there because it’s even worse for me, as a fairly small white female. When I arrive the normal chaos ensues, guys are grabbing my arms and bags, pulling me, yelling and trying to convince me that their bus north will leave soonest, and everyone is shouting such that I can’t really tell what anyone is saying. Then suddenly a man in an orange reflector vest came up and barked at everyone to get away from me. Two of the guys had gotten into a physical fight over me and I reached out at one point when one guy shoved the other one into the road. “Leave those idiots” the man in the orange vest said. “You are the customer, you get to decide which bus you get on. You can see each bus before you make a decision, they can’t force you to get on any of their buses. So, now, which bus would you like to see first?” It was such a bizarre and wonderful moment of civility. I thanked the man profusely and climbed onto the bus of my choosing in relative peace.