Apologies again that I have been so irregular recently. I have submitted about half of my grad school applications and should finish the rest within the next few days. Moz 19 is in their third week of Pre-Service Training (PST) and it’s been nice to have a ton of other Americans around to hang out with (as much as Anna and I love each other, it’s always nice to hang out with other people too). Also during PST each week two current PCVs come down to help out with training. It’s been nice to catch up with PCVs who live in the far corners of the country, including one who I hadn’t seen since I came down to his PST two years ago.
Speaking of how much Anna and I love each other. Some of you might already know this: but we are going to Swaziland for 3-4 months next year. Sister Diane, a long-time friend of my dad, runs a mission (secondary and primary schools, orphanage, health clinic, etc) in Swaziland with Sister Barbara, so when my dad came to visit the past two years we would go visit them. I met them for lunch when I was in Swaziland back in May and they asked me if would be interested in working/volunteering for them for a few months next year developing their youth development project. I have about 8 months to kill between when I finish my service here and when I (ideally) start grad school. I asked if they would be interested in having two of us, especially since Anna is interested in a career in youth development. They said yes, so we will be meeting in Swaziland in mid-January of next year (after I go back to the states for about a month and Anna travels Asia) and staying there for at least a school term, so 3-4 months.
Back when Anna’s parents visited we picked her father up at the airport and had the car they were renting meet us there. The plan was to drive directly up to the beach, with Anna’s newly landed father driving. It must have been a lot to adjust to—Mozambique, jetlag, Mozambican driving, driving on the left side—but Anna’s mom didn’t feel comfortable driving and PCVs aren’t allowed to. We were trying to quickly coach him on all aspects of driving here—be aggressive, honking means “move” or “I’m coming,” it doesn’t mean you’re angry, turning your blinker on tells other cars to pass you (it doesn’t indicate that you’re passing). And we warned them about the cops here—they pull the majority of cars over and then look for and point out transgressions so that people will bribe them. I reminded Anna and her father, sitting in the two front seats, to make sure they were always wearing their seatbelts. This is a particularly wicked one, since so few cars here have functioning seatbelts. “I know it’s annoying, but they are always looking for reasons to pull people over, so just make sure you have your seatbelts on.” There was a pause, then, Anna’s father said “yeah…that’s the law in America too.”
When I was in Inharrime last I noticed that one of my good friends there, one of the ladies we buy from in the market and someone we socialized with often, is pregnant. I asked Erin about it and she said she had noticed too, but the woman hadn’t said anything yet. In Mozambican culture you can’t say anything until the woman herself mentions it, no matter how painfully obvious. I just wonder who the father is and what kind of situation that is (because when I lived there she didn’t have a boyfriend). It also reminds me how much my worldview has changed since being here. When someone in the states gets pregnant, it’s a joyous, celebratory thing. In Mozambique it certainly is something to celebrate, but it’s also haunted by a shadow of danger and doubt. The fact is that pregnancy and birth here and in all parts of the developing world are incredibly dangerous for the mother and the child. Also, contraception is not commonplace or well-understood here, and abortion is technically illegal. Sure, in the states there are unwanted pregnancies, but condoms are widely taught as a contraceptive method (in Mozambique condoms are incessantly repeated as a method to prevent contracting HIV, but for some reason contraception gets left by the wayside) and women theoretically have other options. Before I left, I was instantly happy for anyone who became pregnant, as social practice dictates. Here I wonder that perhaps it’s a situation she would have rather avoided and I worry for her health and safety.