February 3rd was Heroes Day in Mozambique, to commemorate the accomplishments of Mozambique’s leaders in politics and during the Civil War. Everyone had the day off school and work, and the citizens of people in Estaquinha gathered in front of the one political building in town: the place of the Chefe de Poste Administrativo. We sang the national anthem and then formed a circle to hear the story of these heroes, and the Chefe himself called me up to present me to the community. Of course, as soon as I sat down I immediately thought of about thirty very gracious, articulate things I could have said in Portuguese, rather than just, “Thank you for receiving me. I’m so happy to be living in Estaquinha.” Oh, well. I explained to some that we have similar holidays in the States (Memorial Day, Veterans Day) but that we usually don’t spend as much organized time reflecting on what they commemorate.
Etelvina told me that another crucial aspect of a Mozambican holiday is eating meat, so she brought me over to the farm that is part of the mission where they were slaughtering animals. She was really excited to get pig meat, and said there was less competition to acquire it because a lot of people in the region don’t eat pork for religious reasons. I returned home with a kilo of still-warm pig meat, only to find that Luisa, as a Seventh Day Adventist, is among those who abstain from eating pork. Even though there was no way I could eat a whole kilo by myself, it certainly tasted festive.