As promised, this post is all about Mapinhane, my wonderful site. I fully expect that by the time you finish reading this, you will have packed your bags and bought your plane ticket. Just make sure you call me up and let me know when to expect your visit!
When Peace Corps volunteers get dropped off at site, they are told to expect four things: a roof, a bed, a table, and a chair. Most folks get these things if they’re lucky. We happened to be very, very, very lucky. We pulled up in our Chapa da Paz to a fully furnished, stocked, and decorated house full of books, extra medical supplies, teaching resources, some food to tide us over the transition period, anything else we could possibly need… and the choice to move into another, slightly bigger house. The bigger house needed some work, but we decided to move there because it gets more natural light, and well, it’s bigger. Although we had a decent setup in the small house, we had quite the project ahead of us if we wanted to move into the bigger house. Here are some before pictures to give you an idea:
Okay, so it’s actually not that bad by Mozambique standards – we just figured if we’re going to the trouble of moving in, why not make it as nice as possible first? We got to work straight away. First thing to do was paint, and that alone was a huge pain. We had to go to Vilankulos to buy paint, since you can pretty much only buy tomatoes and onions in Mapinhane. It took us a good couple of hours to find a place that sold paint, and then a little bit longer to find a place that wasn’t going to charge us the mulungu/tourist price (aka 4x the actual price). After a lot of walking, sweating, asking around, and then making the difficult decision between cream and white, we found ourselves with a giant 20 litre can of cream paint. We made it about ten feet out of the store before we realized there was absolutely no way we could carry it anywhere. Thus, like the resourceful Peace Corps volunteers that we are, we paid a Mozambican 15 mets to carry it on his head to the chapa terminal. We repeated this experience about 15 times with various items (a second 20 liter can of paint, mirrors, dishes, groceries we can’t get in town, piles of capulanas to spiff things up, a couch, etc.), put in a week and a half of hard labor, blood, sweat, and tears, and finally we had ourselves a home! We still have a lot more to do – get electricity installed, hopefully buy a fridge and some fans, fix up our rooms, clear the yard, plant a garden, and continue to organize things – but it has come a LONG way. Saying that I’m proud is a huge understatement. We put some serious work into this place. Once we’re done with it, it will be as nice as any American home… minus the AC.
Anyways, since we inherited the PC Moz jackpot site, we decided to share the wealth and host Christmas at our place. It was a blast. We pulled out all the stops – baking multiple kinds of cookies (in a homemade dutch oven on a gas stove, which is basically a giant pot with tin cans inside and a towel on top, mind you), getting stockings made, crafting all sorts of decorations, wrapping presents, etc. While it didn’t feel much like Christmas sweating to death under our mosquito nets and hanging out on the beach, the Christmas spirit was all around. My fellow PCV’s in the Dirty South group are pretty great, and I can’t wait to see what happens in these two years we have together!