Once a Southerner, Always a Southerner

Imagine this: You’re a 60-year old Moçambican woman who goes to work on the farm at 3:30 am every morning, wrapped snuggly in your capulana, perfectly balancing a basila of supplies on your head, and chatting with your fellow working women. You hear something in the distance and turn around to see a collection of bright, bobbing lights rapidly approaching. Before you know it, you’re passed by twelve estrangeiros in headlamps, laughing in that maniacal sleep-deprived manner, sprinting down the road that borders Swaziland in the pitch black. Crazy? Yes. One of my favorite memories in Moçambique thus far? Definitely.

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Crazy mulungus running down the road at 3:30 am!

Sunday morning, I went with a group of fellow PCT’s to watch the sunrise at Tres Fronteiras – a point on top of a mountain where Swaziland, South of Africa, and Moçambique meet. Worried that we wouldn’t make it to the top in time to catch the cresting, we decided to run part of the way, and probably scared the pants off of the Moçambicans we came across. We booked it down the road and then stumbled up the mountain through the bush and over the rocks; all the while joking nervously about the many venomous snakes we could come across. We made it to the top just in time and scrambled up the rock pile that marks the crossing point. As the sun rose over the valley, we sang the Moçambican national anthem and toasted mugs of fresh coffee to the new day. (Justin had packed a thermos and French press in his hiking bag because he knows what’s up). We also popped a bottle of red wine because why not? It was absolutely incredible. The rays of light stretched their arms, awakening the smooth hills and valleys before us, illuminating the fog that had settled into the lowlands with purples and pinks, and setting the clouds above on fire with golden rims. As the sun climbed higher, we feasted on bread, maria cookies, peanut butter, cashews, and m&m’s. It could not have been more perfect.

Right before the sun started to come up...

Justin making coffee, Brian and Fei arriving just in time…

Toasting to a new day!

Toasting the new day with a fresh brew!

We couldn't have been happier.

We couldn’t have been happier.

After the sun had risen, a big cloud moved in and covered us at the top of the mountain...

After the sun had risen, a big cloud moved in and covered us at the top of the mountain…

It was pretty cool!

It was pretty cool!

We took this lovely group shot in the cloud.

We took this lovely group shot in the cloud. Apparently my camera found the rocks more interesting.

This point in training is so bittersweet. I feel like I’ve just started to get to know my fellow trainees, and in a mere two weeks we will be shipped off to different provinces. The day that we received our site placements was an emotional rollercoaster. The staff drew a giant map of Moçambique on the basketball court, passed out our envelopes, and we all opened them and ran to our future sites. I was one of the last people to open mine – one because I was already crying a little (typical), and two because I realized I didn’t want to know yet. Over the past couple of weeks as people have talked about site placements and worried about who they would and wouldn’t be near, I’ve felt like the odd man out. It takes me a while to feel like I’ve formed real friendships with people, and I wondered, should I have new best friends by now? Did I miss something? I started to worry about why I hadn’t formed super tight bonds. I wasn’t ready to be separated from the people I didn’t have the chance to get to know! I needed more time! … Funny how I thought training was way too long until the end came in sight.

So I guess this is the part where I talk about where I’m going, huh? It’s kind of important – you know, finding out where I’ll be living and working for two years… So without further ado… Or maybe a little bit more… JK… Or am I?… Here look, more pictures from the sunrise hike!

The cloud cleared out, giving us an amazing view of the valleys below.

The cloud cleared out, giving us an amazing view of the valleys below.

It's so green!

It’s so green!

We found this pile of wishes at the top of the mountain.

We found this pile of wishes at the top of the mountain.

Someone even threw in a bottle of olive oil from Portugal - an offering?

Someone even threw in a bottle of olive oil from Portugal – an offering?

Okay for real this time. I’m going to MAPINHANE!!! It’s a small villa in Inhambane Province (in the Southern part of the country), about 45 minutes away from the beautiful beaches of Vilankulos! I will be teaching English at a Catholic boarding school called Escola Secundaria Padre Gerardo Gumiero de Mapinhane. Quite a mouthful, eh? I’m so freaking excited. I will have a housemate and a sitemate, both of whom seem super cool already. I’ve heard our house is pretty big and nice, but needs some fixing up – something I’m definitely excited about. With the exceptions of electricity and mountains, I’ve got everything I could possibly ask for in a site. I feel so, so lucky. I’m in a beautiful place, at a nice school, near great people, right by public transportation, with space to plant a garden, and of course – I’m in the South! Feels like home to me. I can’t wait to get there and get to work. These two years are about to rock.

On our way back down... here we go!

On our way back down… here we go!

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3 comments

  1. maitre0926

    You’ve made it to the top in so many ways and I know you’ll keep climbing!

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