Work begins (sort of)

I had my two first days of work and now we have a holiday, so it’s back to long walks and reading all day. I met with a group of my colleagues, including the pedagogical director, who is responsible for all the teachers in the secondary school, and we organized the different students into classes (turmas). Even though it was tedious it felt good to be doing something as part of the school and to be interacting with my colleagues.

One of my two fellow English teachers recently arrived back in town, and she has been a god-send. Her name is Etelvina and we hit it off right away. She speaks very good English and we have been communicating about half in English, half in Portuguese so we both get to practice our second language. As well as talking a lot about the school and English teaching, she has been helping me in other ways as I continue to figure out how to live here.

One day Etelvina brought me some fried fish, and when I expressed ignorance about where to buy fish, she said that fisherman bring their fresh catches from the river to the neighborhood to sell and that she would send them to me when they next came. The next night there was a knock on my door, and outside was a young man with ten fish just out of the water, strung through their throats on a piece of reed. I had to gut, clean and fry them right away, however, because they would have spoiled without refrigeration. Unfortunately, some had to go to waste because even ten small fish is a lot for one person.

I have also become friends with one of the junior priests, Bernardo. He found out last week that he has been transferred back to work in Beira after about a year in Estaquinha. I’m sorry to see him go, but I think it is probably a good move for him: I can tell he misses the city. It is interesting that many of the people in leadership roles at the mission are also from outside of the community. As far as I can tell, the assignment of a teacher in Mozambique is entirely at the discretion of the Ministr of Education, who assigns teachers to schools all over the country. I don’t know that Estaquinha would have been the first choice for many of them: they remark how poor we are, without 24-hour electricity and cell phone service, and joke about the lack of variety at the market. Yet that isn’t to say that people don’t seem happy or committed to their jobs, because for the most part, so far, they do.

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