One of the first and most useful verbs I learned in Portuguese is passear, which means “to wander around,” often aimlessly or without a firm destination. As I get my bearings in Namaacha, I find myself passear-ing quite a bit, though for better or worse, Peace Corps training keeps us occupied most of the time.
Six days a week, I get up around 5:15 am to prepare for Portuguese class which starts at 7:30. Then I have English teacher technical training, a break for lunch, more technical training or lectures on culture or history, and finally more Portuguese. The language classes meet in our homestay homes, while the technical sessions are held at houses that Peace Corps staff rents during training.
In the late afternoons I usually passear with friends, then go home for a second bath. (I was resistant to bathing twice a day at first, but my host family insisted, so now I look forward to it the end of an active, humid day.) We usually eat dinner in front of the television, either the news, soccer or, most often, extremely trashy Brazilian game shows and soap operas. Then I do my homework, read, or try to converse with my family, finally tucking in under my mosquito net around 10 pm.
Once a week our whole training group meets together for general lectures on health, safety and other logistics. Besides English teachers, Peace Corps Mozambique trains volunteers to teach biology and chemistry, and as community health outreach workers. So far the other volunteers all seem kind, engaged and reasonably well-adjusted.
My first Sunday I went to church with my host mom, but yesterday I was taken over to my host sister and brother-in-law’s house where all we did was watch TV and eat three full meals over the course of a few hours, so I don’t really know what to expect for next week.
I’m learning more and more Portuguese every day but I’m still struggling a lot. My French and even my basic Latin are helpful in terms of grammar and some of the vocabulary, but I feel at a definite disadvantage for not having had Spanish as far as comprehension goes (at least so far).
A friend here remarked to me that she doesn’t feel like she is a part of the community in Namaacha at all, but we concluded that that is really not what training is about. This is the time to really focus on learning the language and how to do our jobs so that we can integrate into the communities where we’ll be long-term. While training can be frustrating and tedious, it’s somewhat of a luxury to have such clear goals for these next two months, as well as the time and resources to really devote to them.
Also, Mozambique is having presidential elections on October 28th. It doesn’t sound like there has been much international press coverage, but keep your eyes open. Tschau!