Monday, June 6, 2011

Sorry for not updating you for such a long time...APRIL

At the end of April I was about 2 weeks sick with intensive diarreah...since today I have no clue what the reason was. I guess it was not the Pizza I ate one day before. At a certain point when I had fever in combination with vomiting I went to the hospital to make a Malaria test. Fortunately it turned out to be negative.

Easter was not at all like normally. Everybody here went to church, due to my sickness I spent most of the day in bed. There was nothing like the tradition we have in Austria with a cake, presents and a good meal. There were no blossoming trees, nothing... I felt worse than the day before and most of the day I spent in bed or at the bathroom.

On Monday 25th I celebrated my 24th birthday in Mozambique. My family was cute and organized me a little party. I still felt weak and was only able to eat a bit from all. I couldn't resist to eat a little bit of my birthday cake, delicious!

During the whole week from 25th onwards I stayed at home. I couldn't imagine working in Massaca (well you never saw the toilets we use there) and my stomach wasn't prepared yet for the local food. Whenever I thought that I am better the next day it just got worse again, I felt horrible...

On May 1st is the worker's day here in Mozambique. On Monday the 2nd we celebrated this day in Massaca where all the workers from all the centers from Namaacha, Massaca and Impaputo met. It was a great day, we ate chicken with rice and fries, everyone received Coke or Fanta and there was even beer available!

Wednesday, 4th: Yes, I killed a chicken with a knife for the first time in my life!

Sunday, 8th: Mother's day but no one can tell me if it's today or if it was last week, it seems only Father's day has here a certain importance...

14. & 15.05. Bilene & Xai-Xai with friends, amazing times at the beach!!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dia das Mulheres Mocambicanas, Wedding & talking to my sister Delfina

06.04.2011: Dia das Mulheres Mocambicanas: a day to celebrate the women of Mozambique. At 4:30 PM I took a Chapa to Namaacha. In the evening Anne's mozambican brother served us delicious food and we chilled in front of the TV and watched Madagacar in Portuguese.

07.04: WEDDING DAY. As we expected the other girls at Anne's house at around 08:45 we woke up very early in order to prepare us for the wedding. You cannot imagine how ridiculous the whole thing was. We were 'hiking' until we reached the house of the bride. The path was not easy at all with all those stones and well, it's the true country-side of Mozambique. Nonetheless most people were really nice dressed. We had to climb up a car and stand at the back of a car. We hold onto other people's arms in order not to fell from the car. We drove to the register office of Namaacha. On the way everybody was singing songs in Changana, how beautiful! Whole Namaacha was fascinated as all the cars drove to the register's office and sang for the couple. There was a chor who sang for the couple and as we went out of the register's office everybody congratulated the couple. Anne and the other girls and guys danced for the couple. After the register's office we went to the church which honestly didn't appear as a church from the first sight.

Thanks god the church didn't took to long as I had to stand. There was even a translator who translated Changana to Portuguese. In the same manner we drove to the waterfalls (the attraction of Namaacha which I haven't seen up to this point). Gosh, it was freezing! On Thursday I left hot Maputo and reached the cooler Namaacha but on Friday it was incredibly cold! I felt sorry for the bride, as it had lots of clouds and everybody was freezing.

Back at the house everything had changed. There was a big tent and everything was prepared. Many old women only wore Capolana's which I personally found very inappropriate for a wedding... Old women were screaming in a manner that was kind of scary to me but may be very traditional. They were very proud. Cutting the cake was a big ceremony but the bride and the groom only drank Coke and Fanta. Piece by piece they fed their relatives. Throughout the whole wedding there were only softdrinks available. At night, after the priest left, beer was available. After I received my meal and I went home and changed clothes, I was about to freeze completely.

Handing over presents is a big ceremony as well. Within a group the present is taken in front of the group where with a dance and a song it is handed over to the couple. The bride didn't smile at all as she received all those big presents. At least she smiled a bit when we gave her a pot. Later on I asked why she seemed so sad but no one could answer. It seems it had to do with her and not with the culture. At the end of the ceremony I saw that she almost had tears in her eyes...

Saturday, 08.04. We baked a cake for the housemaid Marieta... I guess it was the first time in her life that somebody did something like this for her

Cutting the cake together with Tia Marieta

Monday, 10.04. Aunt Delfina comes back to work. Completely dressed in black. Her dresscode for the next 6 months. With 31 years being a widow. As I looked into her eyes I was about to cry. We talked about her husband and she explained me her difficulties being alone in her house. At the same day her sister lost her job as her boss died and anoter relative lost her husband.

The more I experience stories like these, the more I believe in god or something higher that knows why those things happen to us.

Tuesday, 12.04. The most painful busride in my whole life! Whatever was the reason, beans, Xima or another Mozambican food I had extremely painful stomachache. I never thought that a busride could be that long...until I finally reached the city.

This week I made an english exam with my students. As it was the last week before the holidays and they had exams in schools too, I found it appropriate. I wanted to see what they learned so far together with me.

Also, I teach the kids in all ages to brush their teeths thoroughly. Some of them already have lots of caries and I just don't want them to pull out to many teeths as soon as they are adults. Unfortunately this is the only resolution they have on the countryside as soon as someone has lots of pain with one teeth.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ein Land

in dem immer was los ist, in dem viel gelacht und gleichzeitig viel geweint wird. Frauen die ihr Gesicht an  Bushaltestellen verbergen und ich mich fragen muss wer wohl von ihren Lieben verstorben ist.
Frauen, die tragenden Stuetzen des Landes.
Maenner, aus Mangel aus Respekt oder Furcht vor Verantwortung entfliehen dem Familienleben, lassen Frauen und Kinder zurueck oder pflegen gleichzeitig 2 Familien, sind arbeitslos und/oder trinken... sterben oft viel zu frueh an AIDS und hinterlassen eine ebenfalls HIV positive Frau sowie Kinder.

Ein Land, in dem richtig alte Menschen selten sind.

In dem Kinder ihr Geburtsdatum nicht kennen und nie kennenlernen werden.

Ein Land in dem man sich Haushaelterinnen leisten kann die umgerechnet 40 Euro im Monat bekommen.

Ein Land in dem Maenner die bessere Rolle haben und im Haushalt nicht zu helfen haben.

Frauen mit Kindern, Maenner mit Bier.

Die grosse Angst vor Aids. Die traurigen Augen einer AIDS Kranken.

Einschlafen ohne Strohmatte auf Matschboden.

Mit 8 lernen grosse Wasserkanister auf dem Kopf zu befoerdern.

Das Wort Kind verliert an Bedeutung und verblasst beim Betreten eines solchen Hauses.

Muetter die in ihrem Elend nur noch trinken.

Vollwaise die nur noch ihre Grosseltern haben.

Zauberer die Menschen Krankheiten anhexen und ihnen im Spital niemand mehr helfen kann.

Der Tod der regelmaessig vorbeischaut, in dem Leute vor 30 wegsterben. Die Wege sind lang, es fehlt an Geld fuer Transport.

Vielen Menschen fehlt ein Bein- ein Resultat des Mediziners oder einer Miene?

Waschmaschine? 1 x gesehen.

Die Kunst von Hand zu waschen waehrend es rundherum schlammig ist.

Unendliche Liebe vs. Grobheit im Bezug zu Tieren und Kindern.

Fehlende Kanalisation & ueberflutete Strassen nach nur wenigen Stunden Regen

Chillige Stunden am Strand

Schamgefuehl unter Frauen? Gibt es nicht.

Bei einem Toten fragt man nicht nach dem Grund denn schliesslich koennte es AIDS gewesen sein.

Respekt. Vor aelteren Menschen. Das Haus der Mutter, ein Heiligtum.

Sonntags wird weitergetrunken, gemeinsam mit Freunden, schliesslich ist es der letzte Tag des Wochenendes.

Gespraeche mit Jugendlichen ueber Zukunft, die Rolle der Ehefrau und des Ehemannes, ueber Verantwortungsbewusstsein und ueber Arbeitsvorstellungen.

Fast jedem meiner Freunde fehlt ein Zahn im Gebiss.

Ein Land in dem aus der Armut heraus eine fuer uns unvorstellbare Gier ausbricht.

Ein Land in dem Teilen kein Fremdwort ist, in dem man alles gibt was man hat und dafuer nichts zurueck erwartet.

Ein Land das einem lehrt wie getanzt wird.

Ein Land... das so viele wunderschoene Seiten hat, dass einem oft der Atem stehen bleibt. Aber auch ein Land, dass mich lehrt das zu schaetzen was ich habe. Das mich dankbar macht, dass ich wo anders auf die Welt gekommen bin. Ein Land, so vielseitig wie ein Mosaikbild, dieses Mosambik.
Paz e amor para todos, Friede und Liebe fuer alle, Peace and love for everybody...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Follow-up 05.04.2011

Saturday afternoon I ended up on my best party here so far. Nina, my neighbor took me with her. We picked up Ruth and Nino and drove to Machava, a district of Maputo. First I only expected a barbecue with friends but it turned out to be the birthday of a guy called Gildo who turned 31. The place was awesome with a small house where we had lots of food and a pool. We didn’t have an idea that the place has a pool so we weren’t prepared. I love how Mozambicans party. We arrived at around 4:00 were the first ones already started to dance. No lie, it had 40 degrees and we were dancing and drinking. All of a sudden a guy grabbed me and threw me with my dress in the pool. Best thing that could happened to me. Damn we had so much fun! After me and my friends all ended up in the pool we just danced in the pool. What night! I enjoyed it a lot.
Me and Gildo who turned 31

Gorgeous friends- Enina, Ruth, Gildo and Nino

Enina, Ruth and I

Sunday I went with Nina and her cousin and her friend to the beach.  There I also got to know another friend of them, as well as Jeffrey who’s from South Africa but lives in Mozambique since 9 years. He lives in Inhaca. I definitely need to visit him next time I’m there. I couldn’t describe a better Sunday. Chilling with friends at the beach, eating chicken, coconuts and drinking some beers. Until this Sunday I never went  swimming at Costa do Sol. Honestly, it’s a bit dirty but who cares? I was happy to go for a swim.
Coca Cola here and there and everywhere

Jeffrey and I at Costa do Sol

Yesterday it was the first time it felt really cold here in Mozambique. Gosh! I went to work with a jeans, shoes and a sweater. I never went to work with such an outfit. If this is the Mozambican weather I definitely NOT look forward to it. The Mozambicans said they were happy that it’s getting a bit colder and yesterday lots still only had a T-Shirt on. The wind here definitely feels much colder and it feels like autumn or spring in Austria.

Today I saw the first time how they kill chicken here in the center. Honestly, I was almost about to puke. The kids treated the chicken very bad before killing them. I was so angry. How could you beat up chickens before you kill them? I talked a serious word with them and told them that it’s important to have respect for animals. They killed them with a knife and very slowly. I had the impression we kill them in a faster way at home.

Next time I am going to report about the wedding in Namaacha!

Love, Melanie

Follow-up 01.04.2011

Life here is quite normal. Day by day I still discover new parts oft he culture or get to know new stories. Sometimes it’s too much for me and I don’t know how to get over this information overload. I got to know our new guard, Manuel, who used to live 5r years in Germany where he studied. There he got to know Jacqueline with whom he has a daughter who is now 19 years old. They even lived together and wanted to marry. Unfortunately her father didn’t allow it. After 5 years he had to go back to Mozambique, since that 20 years passed by without seeing Jacqueline and their daughter. As he was expected to go back he couldn’t finish his studies.

Some when in 2006 he lost the contact to the mother of his daughter. Since then he keeps on writing letters to the company she used to work for the mother of Jaqueline. They used to live together and wanted to marry but her father didn’t allow it. So, one night while I was sitting in front of my flat he told me that very often he asks himself why he was born in Mozambique. That night I only thought about our guard, Manuel. I will never forget the way he looked at me while he explained that basically half of his life he spent here waiting for a better time. His biggest wish is to see his daughter.

I keep on thinking, each of us has to write his own story. Only sometimes, it seems a certain road is given to us and we face hard times escaping, or to put it differently, to search for another road or a shortcut.

Kentucky Fried Chicken is the last place I consider to visit soon again. After my first visit I had to puke during work and ended up with a hospital check, while I hadn’t any problems the second time. Last weekend, after me and Anne went to the hairdresser (what a successful visit) we wanted to eat a delicious wrap. Well, I already bereuen on Sunday morning after I woke up. I couldn’t eat a single bit for breakfast. I was sick for about 3 days because of KFC! Could you imagine that? Well, I was told the specific KFC we were in has some major problems with quality and it seems the area there is quite dangerous too (I had no clue…)

No, no more KFC for Melanie…
Oh and I didn’t tell you guys yet that I received an invitation for a marriage! Without any effort, I reached my ultimate goal to see a Mozambican wedding. Thanks to Anne I got the invitation. She’s going to dance for the couple, what an honor! I believe she’s already dancing since 2 weeks to perform well.

The wedding takes place in Namaacha and lasts 3 days, including a church visit in Maputo.

Work is sometimes quite hard, especially with 34 until almost 40 degrees, kids that sometimes have a lack of respect, being tired and the expectation from the kids to give everything.

The last few shocking experiences at work include that a aunt from our center has beaten a child. I saw her holding her shoe in her hand while the child already cried. I was so pissed and told all the others that I don’t like such a Verhalten. We should act differently, especially in such a center.

Another problem is that all of the aunts keep talking in the dialect Changana. They may talk in Portuguese with the kids but when they serve food they only talk Changana to each other. Well, no wonder that the kids act in the same way.

Well, at least this problem is solved as we had a meeting on Friday where I stated this issue. The responsible sister I work with, talked to the kids and the aunts and it seems that this had a great impact. Their behavior already changed.

Isabel is the mother of Cristina, Eduardo and Stelia. The first time I met her after a Chapa ride. She was on her way home and she told me how much she appreciates my work and how I play with her kids. I was very happy and very satisfied. By that time she didn’t have any work. Last week I saw her in a small shop selling groceries, just around the corner of the center. As we passed by, Tia Julia told me that she is HIV positive, as well as her youngest daughter, Stelia. On Friday, after the internal meeting, the sister had a meeting with some of the HIV positive people of the village. She handed out some food for them. Isabel was there too. I greeted her in Changana and hold her hand. She gave me two kisses on my cheek. I watched the others. Most of them are parents of our kids, presumably. By looking at some of them, I recognized that this was the first time in Mozambique that I saw that many adults infected. Some are already in a quite bad condition and it makes m sad to see their young kids, knowing that time flies by and that there’s not much time left for their parents and them. I had to sit down, while the sister had a meeting with those people and the kids were playing soccer.

Also, on Thursday night the husband of my favorite aunt, Delfina died after suffering 2 or 3 weeks due to an illness, that nobody knows. They argue it was witchcraft but I don’t really believe in it. I think it’s AIDS, but no one knows. In general, people might know it is AIDS in the final stage but nobody would dare to tell.

This is why on Friday we were all quite said. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the funeral on Saturday. Since the death of Samito’s cousin, the girlfriend of Izequiel passed away, as well as a family member of Leonor and now the husband of Delfina. Typically Mozambican the whole families thinks he died because of some witchcraft and that originally another family member wanted to kill him.

There is still a lot of witchcraft going on. There are some that offer everything, from being healthy to getting rich, until resolving sex problems. Even the signs who offer this with telephone numbers are kinda scary to me.

So, sometimes life ain’t that easy, thanks god there are up and downs.

Stay in touch and remember to enjoy every moment of life, we never know when we’ll haverour last moment together.

Peace, love & lots of magical moments.
Kisses from Maputo!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mingas Concert, Death & Birth and being sick while it has 37°C

On Thursday, 10th I joined Mathias to the airport in the afternoon. I loved to have him here! It just felt as if a part of Austria would visit me here in Mozambique and it was good to spend time with him as I missed him and I really enjoyed it a lot!

On Friday, 11th, I went to a concert at the Franco Mocambicano. It seems this is getting a Friday tradition with my friend Adao. Mingas was playing. Although Adao booked tickets in advance the lady at the front desk already sold them by the time we arrived. With the help of a little corruption (it's sad I know, but what else can you do to enter a concert?) and some connections he has, we were able to see her. The show was nice! After the concert we went to the bar on the other side of the road, Gil Vicente, where another band played live.

On Saturday the day started quite normally. My best friend celebrated her 25th birthday in Germany and I sent her a text message as my Internet connection is quite bad so I am not even able to call somebody. After taking a nap in the afternoon, I went to the other block in my district and visited my friend Samito. They were sitting outside of his appartment, drinking some beer. After a while the others left and only Samito, Nelson and I stayed. At around 6:00 pm Samito received a call from his cousin who told him that her brother just died.

We couldn't realized what he was saying. I have to admit, I cannot handle anything that has to deal with death. Since I've been here one of the sentences I heard the most is: "He/she is already dead." The big difference was, that this day I was involved. We drank more beer and didn't talk. I had to imagine, one of my cousins whom noone is over thirty would have died. I couldn't hold my tears back. After a while, we knew we had to go. Nelson and Samito changed their clothes and we drove to the district of Magoaine which is quite outside of Maputo. Another district where there are basically no roads and only sand. As we reached the house, his cousin was already waiting for us. I was happy I could use some words I know in Changana. For example Boa noite in Portuguese (Good evening) is "Lipelile" in Changana. His family appreciated that I greeted in Changana.

All of the men were sitting on chairs in front of the house, while the women were sitting on strawmats in the sand. Something which I already got used to. Samito, Nelson and I entered the house. It is one of those small houses that you see everywhere. It only had an entrance door, the other rooms (two) were "closed" through Kapolanas (huge scarf that is used for all different kinds, I'll soon upload a picture!).
The mother of the deceased cousin was lying on a strawmat that was covered with some blankets. I shaked her hand, not knowing what to said. I could only say I'm sorry. I sat on one of the other strawmats, together with the other women. We listened to the words of the daugther of the house who explained us in every detail the very last two hours of Samito's cousin.

I was only able to cry with them. I cannot remember for how long we sat there. From times to times the mother tried to sleep while then she screamed desperately for her son. I had no idea how I could help her. There was no way of helping anyway. We only sat there and didn't talk. I guess two hours passed or more, I cannot remember anymore. We had to go back to the city and we said goodbye to everybody. We gave the mother a kiss on her cheeck and hold her hand for the last time.

As we drove away we had a problem with the car. Another time we stucked in the sand. Me and Nelson jumped out of the car and pushed the car as much as we could until Samito was able to drive away. After we bought a beer we drove back to our district. Arriving there, we met some friends who told us that Nelson's wife called and she was on the way to the hospital as she expected to give birth to her baby.

I couldn't believe the words I heard from my friends. We just came back from a family who was in deep sorrow and now we heard that Nelson is about to be a father! Life sometimes is crazy...My best friend celebrates her 25th birthday in Munich, while I am sitting together with an African family on the floor, crying for a cousin I have never met in my whole life and only some hours later, a new baby is born.

Besides this very sad experience, I cannot report much more. Last week I basically stayed at home as I had a little cold which now got worse. Saturday I stayed with some friends in our "zona", we dranked a little bit and later in the night we went to the club "Macaneta". I was quite confused when my friends told me: "Let's go to Macaneta." - there's also a beach which has the same name. It was my first time in the club and I liked it a lot! Need to go there more often.

On Sunday I spent my day together with Anne in Catembe. This time there was way more trash on the beach than last time, what a pitty! Later in the evening we met with some friends in the bar next door for a drink before we finally went to sleep.

Today I stayed at home as my cold got worse and you have no idea how exhaustive it is to work with children while it has 37°C and you're sick. I need to buy some more medication later on and just hope it gets better so I can go to work tomorrow.

All the best & lots of love from Maputo! Be good!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How i spend my weekends, arrival of Mathias & INHACA

Usually I spend Fridays together with friends in the "zona". This has actually been the case the last two Fridays within the last three weeks. You might think it could get boring but it doesn't. On Saturday, 19th I joined Samito and Dario on a trip to Marracuene which is still in the Maputo region but 30 km away from the city. There some friends of Dario have a house for the weekend. We spent the whole day and night there, eating, drinking and basically doing nothing, which felt awesome! I love the hospitality of Mozambicans. They share everything! I ate my first cake in Mozambique which was incredibly delicious. When we headed back to Maputo we stopped in Xipamanine, another zone within Maputo where we met with some friends of Samito and Dario.
Sunday, 20th I spent at the beach here at Costa do Sol, together with Adao. Just chilling and drinking some beers. Later on I got to know his girlfriend who cooked together with her girlfriends a delicious dinner for us.
The next weekend I went with Geny, Sandra, Carina and Adao to a Carnival party at the train station. By the way, the train station was awarded as the 4th most beautiful train station in the world, created by Gustaf Eiffel.  On Sunday Samito and I went to Lito’s house. Lito is my neighbor, he has an apartment in the city as he works in the city but usually he drives back to his house every day. It's a little bit outside of Maputo. His whole family was there and we basically ate and drank the whole afternoon. I was lucky enough to got to try Gazelle meat which I liked a lot.
On Tuesday, I picked up my friend Mathias from Austria who came to visit Mozambique due to the project in Namaacha which his company supports. I was so happy to see him! Unfortunately their bags didn’t arrive at the same time. A problem which happens quite often with South African, at least this is what I have been told. I didn’t have any problems with my flight. Thanks god their luggage arrived the next day. We drove to Namaacha where we met the family he’s staying with, visited the convent and all the Sisters of the Precious Blood. At the convent I also met Anne’s parents who have been travelling around with Anne since three weeks.
On Wednesday, 2nd I went to the center in Namaacha and played with all the kids until Papa Augusto took Anne and me to Swaziland as I had to get a new visa. Entering Swaziland was exciting. To be honest with you, it didn’t look much different to Mozambique but just the fact that it was another country was exciting. The official language is English but the people we met had hard times to speak English. At the post office we saw a picture of the king who’s also portrayed on their money. I already forgot how many wives he exactly has. Probably I don’t need to mention that the AIDS rate in Swaziland is extremely high.
On Friday, March 4th Mathias and Anne reached Maputo and we met at Novo Milano for a Pizza. After that we picked Samito up and went for the concert at the Franco-Mocambicano where Stewart played, a famous Marrabenta singer.

Stewart live
 Unfortunately we were quite late so we only saw him performing two songs. After that we went to Elvis bar and then to the Havana bar.
 It seems Friday is not the favorite day for people in Maputo to go out. Nevertheless we had so much fun. After only three hours of sleep we had to get up in order to catch the ferry to Inhaca, 200 Meticais for a ride which is 4 Euros. Inhaca is three hours away from Maputo. I used the time to sleep. As we came closer to Inhaca I was amazed by the beauty of the island. The island charges 200 Meticais for tourists and we didn’t question the price. Later I got to know that for citizens the price is only 100 Meticais. Anne’s parents were already there since Thursday.  Me and Mathias stayed at Cool Running’s place. What a cool location! This weekend was the most relaxing I had so far. The same day we went to Santa Maria which is a beach where almost nobody was. A car took us there which was very adventurous  by itself as the driver did quite a lot of speeding which sometimes doesn’t feel too good in the sand.  We did some snorkeling and discovered beautiful shells and all different kinds of fishes along the reef.  

Beautiful Inhaca

Sunday we came back after chilling at the beach. I introduced Mathias to my family. I called Adao to ask him what he was up to. I knew Adao’s brother, Meleco, had an engagement party the day before but as Mathias and I went upstairs there was still a party going on. This weekend Meleco introduced his future wife officially to his whole family which is a every important event. It was awesome! A friend of them taught Mathias some Portuguese and they brought him all the food they had for him to taste. I had some really nice conversations with their Mom.

Meleco and I at his engagement party
One cultural thing I still have to cope with is the behavior within families when they have a party or a ceremony. I already observed several times that women sit in another corner than men. Usually they serve the men food and cook while all the men sit together and enjoy the food and their drinks.  Whenever I’m invited I’m usually with my male friends there. This is why I sit together in the ‘male’ circle. After I while I usually sit together with the women and talk with them but this is not necessarily a thing that happens on the countryside I also recognize it within the city. This was also true at Meleko’s party. While the women were sitting inside, all the men set together outside.
Probably it’s just striking for me as we are not used to such a separation. In former times women were not allowed to take a nap in the same bed together with their husband throughout the day...

On Monday Mathias joined me to visit Massaca and he got to know my kids there...

Playing after lunch with the smaller ones

They loved him!

Enough for today, be good & until next time!
Love from Maputo,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Follow up: 11.02-20.02 First time driving a car in Maputo, Reggae Festival, Catembe & another way how to cross the river & how to carry living chicken

On Friday I was quite tired when I came home from work. Later on, I decided to go out.  I had to take advantage of the weekend. I wrote one of my neighbors from the zona  a text message and immediately received an answer that there’s a Reaggae Festival in the Franca-Mocambicano center. I already have been there once for a Marrabenta concert.
On Saturday I planned to chill at the beach at Costa do Sol but there were quite lots of clowds. Therefore I decided to go for a walk and wanted to try out some of the many shops. I walked along Avenida 24 de Julio until Polana Shopping Center. Then I walked until Avenida Eduard Monlane. It’s really strange that the shops are not open after lunch time on Saturdays! Polana Shopping Center is open, as well as Maputo Shopping Center and GAME where you can find anything but both of them are located in the Baixa. Polana Shopping is quite expensive and also doesn't offer much. At Kalus, the bar next to my house, I met occasionally Simba and Adao for a Coke. I never drank as much Coke as here in Mozambique. I am still not really sure what the reason is.  I guess it’s the mix of not having enough sugar in the food and the need of a refreshment after a hot day. If I buy a bottle on the street, I prefer buying  a Coke as here many people fill up the water bottle themselves and you cannot immediately see the difference.
Saturday night I planned to go out with friends but I was so tired that I decided to take a nap which took about until midnight. I only woke up because a friend called me. As I spent already quite a lot of time in my bed, I decided to meet up with him. We drove through the city not really knowing what to do. After some minutes he pulled over and asked me to drive. Well, I already thought I am used to the traffic system. I have to admit- I’m not. As soon as I was driving, I realized all the differences. In Maputo the road is separated which makes it a little bit easier to drive but as soon as I turned left I started to get panic. Thanks god it was night, a perfect start for my first drive.
Driving 40km/h feels actually quite fast as the roads have huge holes everywhere. Some are big enough to destroy the car. While driving I kept on searching for those huge holes and concentrated on keep on driving on the left side. We stopped at Costa do Sol where it's always busy at night. Everybody meets with the cars, listens to music and drink some beers. People sell the beer by using coolers. Actually all of my friends drink beer while driving, which is quite a funny experience too. 
Police... here… ! Police is just everywhere! I'm always afraid they will stop me and ask me to show my passport and my visa. We were just about to drive back to our zone, as police was about to pull me over. I got quite nervous when I realized that I have my passport with me and my international driver licence but my driver licence from Austria was missing. My friend kept on yelling: Melanie vai, vai (Melanie go, go) I passed them while they were giving me signs to stop. I would never ever do something like this in Austria or the US...  Later on, he explained me it’s better to pass them if I don’t have all the documents with me.  The next day he drove there once again to give them 100 Meticais. That is about the price you pay for 2 beers. It seems they write down the number and as soon as they see the car again they would stop it.
After this experience, I was in desperate need of a drink. We bought some beers (for him 2 M for me Hunters, a beer which has a sweet taste). His block, which is almost next to mine, is quite bigger than mine. I guess it has like 12 stories. We sat on the terrace of the roof. Like with most buildings here it is possible to go up until the top. From there we had THE perfect view over Maputo, Matola,  Katembe and the ocean. Under us, Avenida 24 de Julio. The view is breathtaking.
Sunday I spent quite spontaneously a day in Catembe, together with Mavo. Finally, I was at the beach for swimming.  Costa do Sol is quite nice but it’s quite dirty too. Catembe on the other hand is still a little bit dirty but it is prettier. The water is extremely warm. The ship to Catembe only costs 5 Meticais. This is the price I pay for a normal Chapa ride in Maputo and it only took us about 15 minutes. Leaving Maputo was amazing as we left all the big buildings behind us and went into direction Catembe.
From distance, Maputo seems like any other European city or a city in the US. But as I already know Maputo, I know that in the very deep inside it is nothing alike what I have ever seen. It's a pity that the city is quite dirty and the roads are in a bad condition. Nevertheless, I love the city that somehow never sleeps. 

Last Tuesday the bridge that connects Boane to Massaca was completely closed. In the morning we passed the bridge by foot, as every day. When we came back from work they arranged a ladder to climb down and we had to go through the river in order to arrive on the other side. WOW! You can imagine how the Mozambicans looked at me while I prepared myself for crossing the river. It actually had quite a lot of water too, a little bit above the knees. While entering I had all those thoughts in my head about the diseases you could get if you enter such a water in Africa, Crocodiles, bla, bla. As soon as i was IN the water I only concentrated on getting savely to the other side. The floor was quite slippery, but I made it as I don't know how many people watched every step of mine. 

Since some days the Chapas drive another way to Massaca which now costs 10 Meticais (before it was 5 Mtc).  In the morning I go by Chapa but in the afternoon after work I and Tia Julia from Boane walk the normal way until the bus stop. As there are no Chapas we walk and walk and walk. Until we see a car and ask for a ride. I guess most people only stop because I am white. This is what all the Tias say whom I work with. Therefore, when we're lucky I can sit on the back of a truck and enjoy the view. Also, people stare at me while we pass them as usually white people only sit inside of a car and never at the back where it's sometimes also a little bit uncomfortable. 

My latest experience where I had some difficulties was a dish we had at work. We had some chicken but here they cook everything of the chicken. It was my first time ever that I ate the foot of a chicken. Well, at least a little bit meat! Whatever has meat I am willing to eat... I appreciate meat a lot here. 
Another day we went to the brother of Tia Julia to buy chicken. Here you buy living chicken and transport them by holding their feet. You wouldn't imagine how much weight they have after walking a while. Also, I had a little bit fear that they could pick into my legs. Fortunately nothing the like happened.

Take care guys & beijinhos to all of you!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First hospital visit in Mozambique

Let me first start with the past weekend. On Friday I went quite early to bed, as I didn't feel very well. On Saturday I waited 5 (!!) hours for my brother to go out. Let me explain this in more detail.

In the afternoon I went to the gym which is in the neighborhood, it couldn't be better. The gym is not comparable to a gym in Europe or the US but I really enjoy being there. Also, a friend of mine is the owner of it which makes it even better. In the gym I meet all the people who live in my zone, which is very comfortable too.

After the gym, I talked to some neighbors and went upstairs to get ready as my brother was supposed to pick me up at 4:00 pm. I waited for half an hour without thinking about anything (I'm living in Mozambique where the clock is not always as important as in Europe...).. waited for another half an hour. The hours went by and I knew he's still in another town. At around 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm I was ready for some alcohol. I never waited that long for someone! My sister and I went for a walk to buy a coke nearby. Fortunately I met some friends at the shop Baiana, in the middle of the zone where people just meet. When I came back, I decided to stay with them and drink a beer. As my brother didn't show up I drank some more and decided to go with another friend to a Jazz Bar, called Gil. Before that we went to a restaurant called Piri-Piri and ate chicken. Gosh, since I am here I am so thankful whenever I can eat a piece of meat. The bar was nice. There was one guy with his guitar who sang really nice... it was more chilling and hanging around but I loved it.

Later on, a friend of mine called. He needed money as police stopped him, intoxicated. Now I will let you know a little bit about the police. He had way too much, police took his driver license and asked for 1,000 Meticais. For us this may not sound too much, as it's about 20 Euros but for a person living in Mozambique it's a lot. So I helped him out, as he promised me to give it back to me.

Some other experiences I already had with the police... I walked together with Anne in the Baixa, as police stopped us, asking for our visa. As I showed one police officer my passport including the visa, another police officer whispered into my ear: "Amor, amor". I couldn't do anything as they were very aggressive and also made fun of us. This is the best way you can handle the situation. Here it's normal to give money to the police, but in this situation I did not see any reason to give them money. Since this event I am kinda afraid of the police...

Well, back to my weekend story. At around 4:30 we walked back home, I met my brother in the appartment. We went straight to a party at his friend's place and came back at about 6:30. We didn't want to go straight to bed as this is about the time when our mother goes to church. Therefore we went up to the roof. I need to take a picture of the gorgeous view we had up there. 

On Sunday I met with my neighbor Simba. He took me to his wife's house and I got to know his two sons and the rest of the family. Then we went to Bairo Malangalene to Lola's place where we ate meat and Chima and hang around the whole afternoon. I really enjoyed it.

Yesterday I had quite a bad day. The day before I went with a friend to Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). I was happy like a child when I ate chicken with fries. Oh, I forgot to mention that we took the meal to the beach and ate it there. But yesterday my stomach felt quite weird and all of a sudden I had to puke. I was lucky that not all of the kids watched me, but some did.

One of the tias took me to the hospital in Massaca, were they made a Malaria test. Luckily, I'm negative which is good cause I already had about 20 Mosquito bites since I am here. The doctor gave me some medicine and I think it already helps a bit. At work I was able to sleep a bit over lunch time, which i was very thankful for. It still feels a bit weird, but it gets better.

The gym is something I really enjoy after work, I have been everyday so far. It's 10:00 pm right now and in the small bar next to our building they celebrate very traditional a birthday. All of them are singing. Sounds like they have a lot of fun.

My plans for the upcoming weekend is a breakfast at a friends place- he has cornflakes and milk!!!!!!!! Yiiiiha... and hopefully finding a post office (didn't imagine that it could be that difficult) and hopefully I'll make it this weekend to the beach!

Love, Melanie

Friday, February 4, 2011

Being a Mulungu in a Mulandi's world

In this region here there are two dialects spoken, Ronga and Changana. I personally know more people who speak Changana. I didn't have the chance yet to learn much as I am still learning Portuguese. Also, Changana is very hard to understand and to pronounce. Two words were very important, since the first day I'm here. 

Mulungu - white person
Mulandi- black person 

In Namaacha there were also some people who yelled Mulungu when they saw me but it was seldom. In Massaca where I work since two weeks it's completely different. It seems like I'm the first white person they ever saw. The whole thing gets worse if they point with their finger on you and yell: ''Mulungu, Mulunguuu''. But, to be honest with you.. you get used to it. Your character develops more as you need more courage to walk in a self-conscious way. No matter whom you pass, everybody looks at you. Men especially check you out wherever you are. There is a big difference though, between the city and the countryside. Here in Maputo, people look quite normal at you. Obviously, you look like a tourist and they sell you everything for a higher price than they would sell it to a about the principle that the price is only higher due to the fact that I'm white. 

But here in the city it's easier, as men only look at you because they think whites are attractive. On the countryside everybody stares at you or calls you Mulungu. 

Right now I need 2 hrs one way to reach my workplace. I drive with a small bus where about 14 people or more (depending on the bus size) fit in. Usually there are way more than 20 people in the bus. They push everybody in there and even if you think there is no more space they will get more inside. I already stopped counting the people. At 6:00 AM I leave the house and walk a little bit until I take my first Chapa to Avenida Guerra Popular. From there I take another Chapa to the Baixa. From there the Chapa to Boane leaves. One short Chapa ride costs 5 Meticais which is 0.11 Euro cents.  15 Meticais (0.34 Cents) is the price for the ride from Maputo Baixa to Boane. Unfortunately I don't know how many km that are but it's about 40 min. 

Obviously, if you stop at every Barraje (bus stop) it needs much more time. From Boane I have to walk until the bridge. The bridge was about to crash down and as we have raining season and quite a lot of water too, they fortunately decided to fix the bridge. It's about a 20 min walk until the bridge. From there on I take another Chapa to reach Massaca and the center I work. 

Sometimes this whole travelling is quite exhaustive. Sometimes I just love it. In the Chapa you meet new people, get some new phone numbers and sometimes find new friends. People here aren't ashamed of anything. It's just normal to hand your baby over to somebody else who has a seat. 

Sometimes I come home from work, tired from studying with the children, playing soccer at lunch time when it has around 39degrees Celsius. And then, if you walk through a village like Massaca and Boane where I don't know anybody but everybody makes fun of me, I feel like shit. 

After such a day, I come home and my only wish is to be black. I know, that these people from the villages are just excited to see a white person. But for me it sometimes doesn't feel good. 

This is why I love to live in Maputo because here I'm quite more accepted. 

This week I have been twice to the beach by nighttime. I love Maputo for its diversity. Me and Anne went with some friends there, drank some beer and walked at the beach and watched the skyline from Maputo. 

In my zone I already know quite a lot of people. In my neighborhood there are many young people, and you always meet someone new. Here it's quite easy to get to know people. I cannot imagine something like that happening in Austria. 

I need to upload pictures soon, right now my time is up!
Have a nice day,

greetz from Maputo (32 degrees)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First steps in Mozambique

on the way from Johannesburg to Maputo

My very first glimpse of Mozambique. Here I got my first impression of the muddy streets with its red color..

When I arrived here, we first went to my new family to get to know them. They are so kind! Mama Atalya with her daughter Anna and her baby Maleik and a son called Jorge.

Anne and I spent the weekend in Maputo together with my family, mostly just sitting together with the family, walking a bit around and chilled. On Monday sister Maria Paula picked us up, showed us Massaca, my future workplace. Then we drove further to Impaputo where Anne currently works and then finally to Namaacha. Since that time I'm in Namaacha where i stay with Anne's family. It's hard to describe how my life here in Namaacha looks like, even if I would try to describe it you wouldn't be able to imagine it fully. I couldn't imagine it while I was in Austria.

Obviously, it's rainy season. Here in Namaacha it rains approximately every day once. It's also much colder here than in Maputo. While we slept in Maputo we always used to wake up at 6:00 or 6:30 because we couldn't sleep anymore due to the heat. In TV they warn a lot about Malaria, currently there are many mosquitos in Maputo area.
View from the kitchen

The building over there is called Barraca where people go there and drink and listen to music. Everybody here listens music in a sound level which nobody would believe. At 6:00 AM people already start listening to music.

BEFORE- Walking home from the bar where we used internet, lots of rain!

After... the paths are way too muddy for me to handle.
Here in Namaacha we wash our clothes by hand, the housemaid cooks at a fireplace and only uses the stove for warming-up food or for keeping food warm. We also use it for heating water for taking a bath or having a tea. Taking a bath without having water out of the tab is not really a problem for me. What really disturbs me are the huge cockroaches we have here. As I'm so afraid of them I already killed one.


I gotta go now, take care guys & hope I can soon give you another update from my life here in Mozambique!

xoxo Melanie

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The key of change is to let go of fear.

Only some more hours to go until I'm in the plane on the way to Maputo. The plane leaves Munich at 8:50 pm and I'm going to have a lay-over in Johannesburg and will then finally arrive in Maputo at 7:35 am local time. As always my luggage weighs way too much, especially my hand luggage! I'm still hoping that everything will work out perfectly.

Yesterday some friends popped in to say goodbye which I really enjoyed, thanks to y'all once again and all the gorgeous text messages and phone calls I received. I'm still quite confused and I didn't realize yet that I'm leaving in some hours.

As soon as I find an internet connection I'll give my best to write you again!

Fly, like a bird,
across the sky,
wide open wings,
towards the sun.
Here I come,
beautiful Africa.