Monday, 8 February 2010

Bits and Pieces

My life is a little different here…
- The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is open both doors to let in a breeze, then get a kettle of water boiling. Not for tea, but so I can run it through the filter afterward and have drinking water. I do this about three times a day.
- I walk a half-hour into town to buy groceries about every other day. Sometimes if it’s too hot, I can hop a boleia (car, pick-up truck, tractor, someone’s bike handlebars) into town. Often ten other people are hopping the same boleia. It’s a great way to meet people and get up close and personal quite quickly.
- On these same walks, I walk along a road that looks like it was plucked from civilization and stuck in the wilderness. Corn, tomatoes, papaya, bananas, go off in every direction until the earth drops off. You pass people going to and from the fields along the road, usually women, anywhere from age five to what looks like 75. Sometimes they´ll be riding in carts behind oxen. Sometimes you’ll see them in the field less than fully clothed, Native American-style. They always, always, great you with either a “bom dia” in Portuguese, or a “dixile” in Xangana, the native language here in most of Gaza.
- I walk 45 minutes to church with my neighbor on Sundays. I used to balk at the idea of driving that long to attend my home church in Azle while in college. In an air conditioned car. With a radio. I don’t mind this walk at all.
- Lizards, chickens, cats, dogs, goats, kids and cows all peacefully co-exist in my front yard. And sometimes on my patio. I don’t mind the dogs because at least you can shoo them away. The kids don’t listen.
- The part of my day I probably look forward to the most is getting to dump cold cupfuls of water over my head for a shower. I’m fairly certain it’s the only time of day – and night – that I’m not sweating.
- My roommate and I usually spend about an hour making dinner every night. I thought I cooked from scratch back home. Then I started buying things like yeast and whole coconuts and rice that I passed on the way to school that morning. I have chopped up an onion almost every day since arriving in Chokwe. I wear sunglasses because I discovered I’m uber-sensitive and end up bawling halfway through the first one if I don’t. Much to my roommate’s amusement.
- I speak English with my roommate, the other volunteers, and the ten people that stop me along the road to try out their English and ask me to teach them more. Other than that, it’s Portuguese or a sad attempt at Xangana.
- I was just interrupted by my neighbor, who was outside the front door frantically beating a log against the side of my house. Thankfully, the snake was dead before it made it to the patio. I love my neighbors.
- Around noon, everyone in my bairro whips out an esteira (sort of like a tatami mat), lays it in the shade and doesn’t move until three. During this time, they might munch on mangoes, work on homework, gossip with neighboring esteira-dwellers, or just let their minds wander. It’s brilliant.

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