Holidays 2010, Part 1: Mozambique

The school year ended anti-climactically. Tests and a period of grading, then national exams for fifth, seventh and tenth graders. I stayed late enough to grade the second round of English exams for tenth grade. We had a lot of students fail the English exam, but fewer than failed exams in other subjects.

It was raining so hard the night before and the day I left that I almost wasn’t able to depart—no cars were going—but we arranged a mission car to take me and a few other teachers to the main road. I traveled north for two days by myself before I was able to meet up with other Peace Corps volunteers at a beach outside of the Ilha de Moçambique in Nampula. Last time I was there over a year ago, I encountered sea urchins; this time, a jellyfish stung me as I was swimming, resulting in red welts on my hip that took a few weeks to fade.

From the beach, our party retraced our steps to a Peace Corps site in Monapo, then back to Nampula city. My friend Alexandra and I got up early in the morning to take the train from to Cuamba in Niassa province. We spent the day on the clattering old train, squeezed into a birth with other travelers, and watching the luscious scenery. In Cuamba we stayed with another volunteer and left the next morning to cross the border into Malawi, and that’s where the trouble started. We were able to find a chapa going to what was the closest crossing on the map, but it broke down in a little town about 30 kilometers away. Our transport options were motorcycles or bike taxis, with our backpacks, but finally a Brazilian nun appeared in a pick up and gave us a lift. The post was quiet and the officials chatty, and we walked through the no-man’s land to Malawi.

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