Well, nearly one short month has passed since we left Colorado. One long month too 🙂 Here in Namaacha we’ve fallen into pretty easy routines. Our time is split between Portuguese language classes, technical job training for the discipline we will be teaching, and health, cross-cultural, and safety and security trainings as a whole group. Tomorrow begins our fourth week of training. At the end of this week we will have our first Portuguese language speaking test to check our progress, then our group will split off to all corners of the country for a chance to visit currently serving PCV’s (Peace Corps Volunteers) and get a sense of what PCV life is like.
The first smile this week was because of friends under the age of 10 years old (my fave people 😉 ). First, I received my first declaration of friendship from an adorable 7-year-old neighbor named Winnie. Winnie likes to stop by and color, strum the guitalele, and ask us for sweets. This week she looked at me and said, “Meu companao.” My friend. Yes! I officially made a friend in Moz. The next day, I received a Facebook message from a parent of a student in Fraser, saying that every week he asks to log on to Facebook and see what Miss Cece is doing. It’s great to know that my lovely EGSD students are still thinking of me and are curious about what’s going on in Moz. Lastly, my lingua group got the chance to visit an all-girls orphanage. After touring the facilities we spent a bit of time playing games with the girls; We taught them American games and they taught us Mozambican games. This time made me nostalgic for my time spent at the GRC in Kenya, and solidified my desire to work with girls here in Moz.
The second smile this week came with the first rains of rainy season and the first time in a month that I got to say ‘I am chilly,’ here in Moz. Leggings and long sleeves have been my best friends for the last 3 days. Even though it’s Spring here, the chill in the air is reminding me of the fall back in Colorado, which I am aching for a little bit. To keep with the theme, we purchased a squash in the market yesterday that will be cooked for dinner today.
The third smile this week is a real little thing: an old-fashioned radio in the kitchen that is always playing fuzzy music in various languages that I don’t understand. Besides the fact that the upbeat Mozambican jams are good for keeping the spirit lifted, having a fuzzy radio playing constantly in the kitchen (against the backdrop of light pink kitchen wall tiles inspired by the colonial era…) makes me feel like I am in a weird time warp and have somehow traveled across the world and into the 1950’s.
The struggle this week came on our Dia de Cozinhar, or cooking day. All of the lingua groups got together with all of their maes and together we made an American dish and Mozambican dishes. This was a whole morning of cooking, from 7:30-12:30, because everything is made from scratch. Really, really from scratch. When we planned to make chicken parmesan I completely overlooked the fact that the chicken would need to be killed and processed. The time rolled around and I was wishing we were cooking vegetarian. There were two live chickens and two dull knives. Between the 5 of us in lingua, 1 had already killed a chicken and 1 refused because she is a vegetarian. Then there were 3. In the end, only one of us could stand there and saw the head of a chicken off. It wasn’t me. Our mae offered to let one of us kill the second chicken, but we couldn’t. She went about it in a way that made it look easy; the same way maes go about everything hard. She merely gave the chicken a little slit in the throat and stood with her feet on its wings, talking to us, while the chicken bled out.
Now, this was not a struggle because I think it’s mean to kill chickens for eating. Fresh meat is great, and humans are omnivores after all. I do believe that eating meat is natural for us. But it was a struggle because I felt that if I couldn’t kill the thing myself I didn’t really ‘deserve’ to eat it. The way that animals are killed and processed for meat in the U.S. is pretty icky when I stop to think about it. There’s not much connection to our food; the process certainly isn’t natural. When trying to explain that killing chickens is hard for Americans because hardly anyone kills their own chickens in America, our language teacher asked “Well, then who kills the chickens?” We told him machines do it. You should have seen the confused look on his face… It’s bothered me for a while and my ideal self would only eat meat that Alex and I hunted ourselves or directly knew the source. My ideal self would be able to kill that chicken if I wanted to eat it. But my real self couldn’t. So, there I was feeling queasy as my world shifted a bit and I ran through the moral dilemma in my head: if I can’t feel connected to the source of my food, if I am not okay with it dying/killing it, should I really be eating it? I didn’t come up with an answer, and still haven’t days later. But I am certain that the moment will stick with me. And I’m not giving up on chicken-killing just yet.