I spent my 23rd birthday knee-deep in mud, learning how to use a hoe during a workshop on permaculture gardening. The seminar was set-up as part of training so that we can teach sustainable farming techniques with people in our communities, but I think most of us are excited about the prospect of having and experimenting with our own vegetable gardens before we try to share the practice with others.
It was another big weekend: the trainees held a Halloween party at one of the houses that Peace Corps uses for training. Costumes were required and we were encouraged to bring host family members of all ages, so it was certainly a spectacle and more than a little awkward. Then the party migrated to Palucha’s Place, a bar/disco on the edge of town that seems to be the main evening scene in Namaacha. It was nice and necessary to have a night out like young people might anywhere in the world, and the music (a mix of classic American dance tunes and Mozambican music) wasn’t bad either. Our curfew even got extended to midnight for the occasion.
On Sunday, my host family threw me a birthday party. They hadn’t really told me about it ahead of time, just that I should invite some friends over in the afternoon. It wasn’t quite the bash that the post-first communion was, but they did bake and decorate a cake and cook a delicious meal for lunch. Birthdays are a really big deal in Mozambique. There is an elaborate ritual for cutting cake and feeding it to each other, almost like at a wedding, and we did some toasts with champagne. It was very, very sweet of them.
In other news, elections seem to have gone off as planned. The FRELIMO party dominated all over the country, incumbent President Guebuza was reelected for (I believe) a third term, and the opposition party RENAMO created a little bit, but not much, of a stink.
This weekend I am off to Namapa in Nampula province in the north of the country, to visit a current volunteer and get an idea of what I want/don´t want in a site. Thanks to Obama´s increase of the Peace Corps budget, many people, including me, get to fly to theír sites. Hopefully I’ll have some adventures to report on when I return.
**Some of you have been asking about photos. I do have some and I haven’t yet found an Internet connection that is fast enough to post them, but I’m working on it! I’ll try to put some up both here and on Facebook.**