Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not teacher material...that's for sure

I have realized why I hate school now and why I don't want to teach
anymore when I get back to the States. Teaching here has me realized
that I am a horrible teacher! And that may have something to do with
my interpersonal skills or the differences in the educational system,
but a lot of it also has to do with me being so tired of these
students! Ahhhh!

I hate that I cannot be fair when I am grading because I constantly
doubt my ability to discern when a student is cheating or not. When
they're doing their homework, I would love to give praise to the
students who did a good job, but then I'll continue grading and BAM!
There goes another paper with the exact same shit written on it, and
all my excitement is gone. That's what it's like….I'm in constant
doubt that they're cheating, even the good students. They'd let their
friends cheat off of them. So when I know they're copying, I'm taking
off more points than I should to compensate for the fact that they're
cheating and I can't prove it. It's not a good feeling to have to do
that, ya' know.

I hate that they make me feel like such a BITCH ALL the TIME!!!
They're so disrespectful to me during class. I know they hate me
because I fail them. I do feel bad about that, but I have these
expectations that I don't want to lower for them. It includes all the
values a young person ought to have entering the working world, which
is what they're about to embark upon: no cheating, ask for help, being
punctual, study hard at home. I don't know what they're doing but
they're definitely not studying as much as they should be, and how can
you succeed at anything in life if you don't work hard for it? I make
them stand during class if they're late to teach them punctuality. I
give them zeroes when they cheat to encourage them not do it. I vary
the tests so they don't copy but I also give them pretty good reviews
to encourage them to study, but they just don't care. They hate me
because I don't listen to them and make allowances for them where
their other teachers do it, but it just doesn't feel right to me.

Sometimes, I doubt if I've ever been a good teacher. Maybe I just
don't care enough about the students, and that's why they feel that
animosity towards me. Honestly, these days, I don't care if they pass
or not. While teaching, I don't even try to get through all the lesson
because they make me reach my limit sometimes with their laughing and
being disrespectful. I would have never treated my teachers like this
in high school. Sometimes, I grade a kid that I know to be a bad kid
harder or I kick him out much quicker just because I realllllly don't
like him. Now is that right to you? Where are my morals? I feel like
that moral base on which I stand is fracturing and breaking down and I
can't tell if what I am doing is right or wrong anymore. I doubt
myself all the time because I know that I am a foreigner. I have no
idea how they were raised or what their situations are like outside of
school. Sometimes I feel like I should give them the allowances and
just let them pass, but then I would second guess myself because I
know that being a Peace Corps volunteer, I'm supposed to be changing
the way things are done, not succumbing to them. Ugh!! It's too
frustrating right now!

The director of the school brought me in to lecture me about the
failing rate of my students the other day. He has never come to watch
any of my lessons. He has never once talked to me about how my
teaching is going, but yet he has the nerve to tell me that I must be
doing something wrong if so many students are failing. When I asked
him what I needed to do to better the situation, he couldn't give me a
straight answer. I am frustrated because if he could give me any
legitimate advice, I would have taken it. But I know he doesn't care
about whether the students learn or not. All he cares about is that it
doesn't show on the report. And I am so close to just giving in to
the corruption and passing everyone just to not deal with this. That
would make all of them happy and off my back….sighz. Maybe I am not a
good teacher. A good one would have tried harder. A good one would
have thought of a different way to handle things. Not me. 12th grade
English, you are the death of me – atleast the part of me that ever
wanted to be a teacher, anyway.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wow…. I feel so proud of myself today. I'd planned an HIV/AIDS student
workshop for 43 people with 2 Mozambicans and it didn't fall to
pieces! It took me 2 weeks to plan, hours of typing, making copies,
budgeting, phone calls, but it was so worth it when we ended the
conference today, and I felt like the students actually learned
something from it. I actually felt the satisfaction that every
volunteer longs to feel, the satisfaction that you are doing something
worthwhile with your time here, and that deep down, a part of you did
join Peace Corps to help others. Did I had times where I just wanted
to wring their necks out and slap them all? Sure! There is no sense of
schedule or time here. Were there times when I'd felt like this was
pointless? Definitely! In the beginning, I was so frustrated when
things didn't go as planned, just as anyone would when they've put so
much work into planning something and just want it to go well. I had
to remind myself so many times to take deep breaths and that I
wouldn't have to deal with this way of living for much longer, but
when I finally let go and just admit that things are never going to go
as you planned here, no matter how well you planned, it went so much
better than I thought! The students had fun and learned something. I
had fun, as well. I don't know really want to go into too much
details, but I'm just so ecstatic to I have accomplished such a task.

On another topic, I wrote earlier that I didn't have to live in these
conditions anymore. It means that I'm going to finish my service soon,
6 months! It did fly pretty quick, but as of this moment, I'm so
excited to go home. I haven't seen any of my family or friends for 20
months, and even though I've made new friends here, I really miss
everyone from home, as well. I miss all the food from back home….oh,
the food. Even in my dreams, I think about hot wings and pho and
sushi. What I wouldn't give for some McDonald's… Though I am preparing
to go home, I also have this nagging feeling, maybe fear, maybe
anxiety (I don't know, can't quite tell yet). It's very similar to the
feeling I had before I came, maybe it's a fear of the unknown. I don't
really know what America's like anymore, haven't kept up with the
news, the music, or the culture. And even though I miss everyone, how
do I know that the ones that I've missed are still the same people
that I've missed, ya know what I mean? People change, and I'm going to
have to rebuild all that up again. Guess that's kind of exciting, too,
cause you know, I'm kind of over this experience. It was really good,
and it will continue to be good until I finish, but the excitement is
all gone. I'm ready for something new. Can't wait to get home!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

another year... another reflection

December 2, 2010

Damn... Sorry I haven't updated for a while. I wonder if anyone still
follows this blog besides my really close buddies.... Well, better to jot
down some thoughts anyway.

So, I finished a whole year in Mozambique in October, and I meant to write
then, but for some reason, I just kept finding that I could not sit down and
really reflect on my experience. Classes ended in October, so I did have
some time, but I just couldn't really focus and think about what this last
year has meant for me. And now, 2 months later, I still am having a hard
time reflecting, but I'm forcing myself to update anyway since I won't have
a chance to update for another month, and at that time, I'll be blogging
about the amazing trip that I'm about to go on (but more about that next

How do I feel now? First of all, I feel like I did accomplish goal 1 of
Peace Corps, which is to provide Mozambique with skilled men and women who
will fill the needs of the country. I think I did a fine, albeit not
wonderful, job of teaching English to my 8th graders. Considering they
didn't even know what a verb, noun, or adjective is in Portuguese when we
first started the year and now after I've made them conjugate over 50 verbs,
they know all the pronouns by heart. So I guess that's atleast a small
accomplishment. I think they possess the basic foundation to build the rest
of their English language, should they choose to pursue that course.With
other aspects of the Peace Corps goals, though, I don't think I did a very
good job. Goals 2 & 3 of Peace Corps involves integrating with the community
and exchanging American culture with Mozambican culture. Being an
Asian-American, I would have been especially good at and should have shared
with the Mozambicans the cultural diversity of America, but I don't think I
did that very well. Integration is still a slight problem for me. I wouldn't
say that my language skills are all that awful; I mean, I can communicate
basic needs and thoughts and feelings, but I lack the necessary vocabulary
to really build conversations with others, you know, the kind of
coversations that involve politics, religion, culture and other aspects of
life that cause people to laugh, cry, or want to fight you, the emotions
involving "deep" conversations. Yes, my friends, I can't have conversations
with people here, and it saddens me in an inexplicable way. It's not like I
have no friends because I do, and it's not that I NEVER have these types of
conversations, but it happens a lot less often than I would like , and it's
something from the States that I really miss, as well. On that note, I guess
1 out of 3 is not bad, and there's always next year to work on the other 2

What I really want to talk about this entry, is this feeling of
non-accomplishment I'm beginning to feel as of late.

December 12, 2010

Shit... So, I never get to finish writing these blog entries cause
they take forever to write, and I'm always on the fucking road and
paying for internet by the minute. For example, I've only got 10
minutes now to write a bit more and am going to end up saving this
entry to finish at a later date. Frustrating!

But that also means that I'm traveling a lot. It's only been 10 days
since I last wrote, but I've already gone to Swaziland and Tanzania
and am currently in South AFrica. That's 3 countries in 10 days...
Unbelievable... Anyway, more update on that later. Now, back to the
reflection of 1 year.


So, like I said, I had gotten this feeling of unaccomplishment. One of
the main reasons I wanted to do Peace Corps, other than for the
challenge of it, was to find out more about who I am and who I want to
be. I guess at this age, you should already have a firm grasp of the
kind of person you are and where you want to go in life, in addition
to what you want from life. You would think that the Peace Corps
experience, a life with no distractions, you'd have more time to think
about your life and make choices. Wrong!


January 6, 2011

Man, I am not good at keeping this blog updated. I had typed up the
above a month ago, and had intended to finish it, but things kept
coming up, and now, I've lost what I was going to say. I had a very
good reflection for my one- year, too. Oh well.

I am not going to write in detail about my trip this time. Apparently,
I "write essays", and I wouldn't want to bored everyone with details
about traveling, since it's probably not that interesting unless you
plan on going to the same place. However, I will say that the more
traveling I do, the more everything begins to look the same. Beaches
are beaches. Mountains are mountains. There is beauty in every place,
but I got tired of experiencing the same things and feeling the same
feelings, so my conclusion is that in the end, what I take away most
from my travels is the time I spend with the people I travel with: the
laughter, the bonding, and the trying out of new things together. So,
if I look at it from that perspective, I've gained so much from my
travels this time, even though I spent all of my savings.

So… what am I up to these days? Well, after over a month of not being
at site, I've returned home… to being robbed, once again. Isn't that
just my luck?! And I tried so hard this time to avoid it, too!

I had someone I trusted watch over my house, even paid the kid. It's
too bad he didn't have enough sense to stay here and watch it the
entire time (left the keys with the neighbors for a weekend when he
went home for xmas) and had someone else stay over at our house with
him. I don't think he would rob me, but I do think his friend or one
of the neighbor's kids probably came in and took my external hard
drive, flashdrive, books, and some other small things. Why,
Mozambique, why? It's this kind of bullshit that makes me not want to
stay here, anymore. Anyway, I'm getting over it. (Sorry, Jenny, that I
lost your gift to me.) The material thing is not the thing that
bothers me so much, it's more of the broken trust that I'm pissed at.
Once again, I thought I could trust someone, and once again, I get
fooled. You know how I hate being made a fool of… There's also that
feeling of helplessness. Like, what am I supposed to do now? Who is
telling me the truth and who is lying? In a foreign country by myself
where I don't know the law or the people, what can I do?

Well, can't really do anything, I guess. Just gotta take deep breaths.
I find that it really helps. When I was returning from Tanzania to
South Africa, I almost got denied entry because I didn't have my
Yellow Fever card with me, to show that I've had my shots. I told them
Peace Corps had it, but no one knew what the Peace Corps was that
worked at the airport, and I felt so frustrated because I kept having
to repeat my story and they kept repeating to me what they knew, but
we were getting no where. They wanted to deport me! On top of that, no
one knew anything, so they kept walking me around talking to different
departments and people, and I was getting so frustrated. Well, I took
deep breaths and stayed calm, and it all eventually worked out in the
end. I never really believed that until I joined Peace Corps, but man,
that shit works. Gotta do more of that!

These days are pretty laid back, and I've been getting a lot of more
time on my hands, which I don't know is a good thing or bad. I guess
now would be a good time to reflect on my experience, but I find
myself thinking more about my future and worrying about what I am
going to do once I get home. It's so surreal that I'm about to
complete my second year of service. I was riding my bike through the
streets the other day, and I realize how different I feel this year
compared to last about the beginning of classes. I have a much better
idea of the way things work now, what I am supposed to do, the way the
culture is; even my Portuguese is better. I've actually got friends at
site, now. Last year at this time, I was by myself a lot and now, I've
got people to spend time with and talk to. It's so much better. Oh, I
totally forgot to write that my ex-roommate, Vanessa, will not be
getting replaced by another volunteer, which means…. Yes, I'm at site
by myself this year! How interesting it's gonna be….

Get ready 2011…. ***cracks knuckles**** It's time to get down to some
business! I want to get one project accomplished for my community
before I leave, set goals for and restructure all the student clubs to
make sure they're sustainable, and achieve my New Year's resolution of
running more. Hope everyone had a good New Years! Let's get shit
accomplished this year! (And also avoid being robbed…haha)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A project worth Supporting!

So... I posted this on facebook, but I'm going to try as many ways as I can to put forth a project developed by a friend of mine in Peace Corps Mozambique because I believe in it with all my heart. Basically, he's trying to raise money to improve an orphanage in his town. The orphanage already exists, as much as an orphanage can exist in this developing country, a 2-room building taking care of 65 children, ranging from ages of pre-school to middle school students, with the support of 2 or 3 staff. I've been there. I've seen it, and what I took away from it was how is this possible?! How can they teach kids and support all those children with so many different levels in such a small space with just THREE people? Anyway, although the school has sufficient funding to support the children during the day, at night, they all have to return to their relatives' homes or friends of family's homes because there is just no space for them to stay over night. Essentially, the orphanage exists as a day-care, and after hours, the children are let loose to whatever conditions they have at home, malnutrition, abuse, etc. My friend's project will help raise money to add a side building to the currently existing orphanage so that children with desperate conditions can overnight at the orphanage. I don't want to make this note too long, so just go to this website for more info: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Please-Help-Us-Build-A-House-of-Hope-in-Mozambique/164790806896273?ref=ts.
If you want to support, go to
I know that there are lots of projects out there, and when you donate, you don't really know where your money is going to, but please believe me when I say that this project is going to directly help the children of this town. Knowing me... well, hopefully you know me if you're reading this note, would I support a nonsense project? I mean, come onnnnnnnn.... j/k. Also, please help to spread the word if you can. Thanks!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An unhappy ending

This entry is dedicated to all those who feel oppressed by those
around them, helpless to do anything about it, and hopeless to the
entire situation. I wish it was one of those stories where the ending
was a happy one, but it's not.

Once upon a time, there was a boy like any other boy in the town of
Buzi. He comes from a poor family, where it is a necessity for his
mother to work in another country and had to leave him to live with
his aunt in a very rural town. This little boy grew up not thinking
anything of his future, only of his present life, what he needed to do
in order to survive the here and now. He had friends, but most of his
friends possessed the same mentality as he did. They knew of what
existed in their little town and their rural way of life. When this
boy was 14 or 15, he got a girlfriend, who he liked very much. One
day, the girlfriend came and told him that her teacher was going to
fail her in school if she didn't sleep with him, and asked the boy to
help her. The boy became very angry and began to plot ways of getting
even with the teacher. His young mind then decided to go find said
teacher, and this is what he told him.

"You better pass my girlfriend, or I will hide and wait for you on
this very road. I will have my machete with me, and when you least
expect it, I will jump out and kill you." He even went to the school
director and told him this.

Now, the rest of this story is not important, only that he did not end
up killing this teacher. The most important thing to understand is
that this boy took justice into his own hands. What could have
possibly possessed him to do such a thing?

Let's flash forward a little to when the boy turns 19 or 20. All this
time, he's been attending school, but just performing mediocre. He
does what all other teenage boys do in their little town: go to
school, help out their family a little in the fields, and drink. They
sit around and wait for opportunity to come to them, not ever thinking
that maybe they should get off their lazy asses and go find the
opportunity, all the while complaining that life is hard. Why should
they try harder and what can they do when everything is corrupted,
from the president of the country to the little director of their

One day, 2 foreigners arrived in this rural town. One was to teach
English and the other Biology at this boy's high school. Ofcourse, the
boy was still attending high school since he had never had the
motivation to graduate. The boy was curious about these foreigners and
why they were there, so he began to talk to them. The more he talked
to them, the more he liked them and wanted to spend more time with
them. These foreigners taught him about the world outside of his small
little town. In addition to helping him with his English and Biology,
they introduced him to a world where hard work does eventually pay
off. He began to see that things do not necessarily have to stay the
way they are, and that change was possible, and change had to begin
with him.

This boy began to study harder, work harder, and spent all his time
practicing English with his new friends. The foreigners, in exchange,
were eager to help. Soon enough, the boy grew into a man, and the man
graduated, and looked for work outside of his small, rural town.
Although it took some time, he eventually found work and got accepted
into a university in an education program. His English is almost
flawless now, and he has found a way to make money translating
documents using his English knowledge. He was very busy, but he
remembered his small upbringing and tried to help his community as
much as he could. However, others misconstrued this kindness as his
way of showing off his success. Though they went to ask him for money,
his neighbors often comment on how he's so successful at such a young
age. Because the culture is so used to corruption, these people think
that the means of his success is based on something corrupt. They did
not believe that he'd earned all this from hard work and honesty. How
could they think otherwise when they themselves have experienced being
turned down from jobs only to be replaced by someone less qualified
yet wealthier than they were? Even the people in the man's hometown
said he was a show-off.

One day, the man returned home to visit his aunt in the small rural
town. He went to visit his friends and left their house a little after
dark. He was walking home when he was approached by an old friend. He
talked to her a while, and suddenly, her boyfriend, very drunk and
inebriated, came out of nowhere and accused the man of making a pass
at his girlfriend. He claims that the man has come back to show off,
and he didn't like that, so he and his 3 friends surrounded this man
and beat him. The man, who was once the young boy that had wanted to
kill his teacher with a machete on the side of the road, decided that
he no longer wanted to follow that route. He refused to fight back,
believing that he was no longer that person that had to resort to
violence to solve his problems. He committed himself to the justice
system, and decided to go to the police the next day to report the

Not only did the police do nothing about these drunk guys, but no one
would give him a straight answer. The police told him to find the
security chief of the neighborhood to catch the men and turn them in
to the police, but when the man went to the security chief, the chief
told him this:

"I have no gun. I have no rope. I have nothing to capture these men.
And I'm afraid they will eventually kill me. I cannot help you."

The man went back and forth between the police and the security chief,
and no one could help. Even his foreigner friends stepped up and
talked to the police, yet nothing prevailed. There was no justice in
this little rural town. Unless you have money, you have a significant
position in the community, or you know the right upper crust, your
voice would never be heard. This angered the man very much. Not only
did this crime occur in his hometown, where he grew up, but the police
were people that also knew him since he was young, yet they refused to
help him. Not only did he choose the right path and left it up to the
hands of justice instead of violence to delegate the consequences, he
tried everything he could to help justice. Finally, he decided that
there was no way to win. Those guys were going to get away with what
they did to him, unless he resorted to his own means of justice,
dealing with it himself.

This is a true story, and it makes me sick to my stomach how the
justice system works in this country. It saddens me that one can feel
so helpless and that my friend has to resort to violence to solve his
situation. He actually chose to do the right thing, and the right
thing turned out to be the wrong thing. I just want his story to be
heard. Sometimes in life, there really is no way out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3 beaches in 2 weeks...continued....

Day 13 (Pemba to Maputo) This was just a traveling day cause I
basically flew from the northern tip of the country to the southern
tip. For dinner, we ate at this great South African pizza place called
Mimo's, and it really made me miss Italian food.

Day 14 (Maputo) I started to feel better finally and walked around the
capital of Mozambique with my friends. We'd met up a bunch of other
people, had coffee and juice, went shopping, ate Indian food again
(this time it stayed down haha), and then bought wine and cheese back
to the hotel. Yea… I really didn't feel like I was in Africa at all.

Day 15 (Maputo to Inhassoro) I had to go to a JOMA conference, so we
woke up early at 4 to catch a TCO bus to Inhassoro. Now, if you can't
fly in Mozambique, the next step up would be the TCO bus. It has AC,
comfortable seats, a bathroom, and even serve you snacks. This bus
also took 10 hours, but it was not nearly as awful as all the other 10
hour buses that I took. When we got there, they'd put us in this nice
resort where the rooms were fashioned like tents. It kind of made you
feel like you were camping, but not really cause there were bathrooms
with awesomely hot showers and everything. I was so happy cause that
bed must have been the best bed I've slept in since my arrival in
Mozambique. It felt like sleeping on clouds!

Day 16 – 17 (Inhassoro) Okay, so I was basically here because we had a
conference but the work day ended around 3 so we had the rest of the
day to chill. The resort was right next to the beach, so that you
could just walk down a flight of stairs to hit the waves. I would rate
this beach higher than the Pemba beach because it was less secluded
and not as touristy, but not as nice as Chokas Beach in Ilha because
the water was not as calm and sand not as white, and the beach not as
isolated. I loved Chokas! Too bad it was so cold that I didn't want to
swim, but it was still nice being by a beach. We also got to see
Colin's site. Inhassoro is a pretty small town, but also full of
foreigners because of the nice beach. It's only maybe one hour from
the main highway, so that it's not difficult for him to travel. He
says he runs along the beach all the time, which is so awesome. I wish
I could run along the beach every morning and watch the sun rise. We
didn't get a chance to visit his school.

Day 18 (Inhassoro to Vilankulos to Maputo to Beira) Damn. I was so
tired by this day. I just wanted to go home, but our flight from
Vilankulos to Maputo did not leave until 5 PM, so we had the morning
to chill at the Vilankulos Beach. This is not my first time at this
beach, but I would rate it my least favorite since I spent the least
amount of time exploring this beach. It's just as touristy as Pemba,
but I think I don't like it because Vilankulos the town is just too
crowded for my taste. I'm glad I don't have this as my sight because
with all those people and tourists, it would be a lot harder to
integrate. It made me love Buzi so much with its one river, sparse
cars, rice fields, vast empty grasslands. The day also sucked because
my flight was scheduled for that same night at 9:30 PM but everyone
else got to stay another night in the city, so it was sad having to
say good-bye. Finally got to Beira at 11:30 and had to have my awesome
friend Orlando come pick me up at the airport to stay at his house. I
haven't talked about Orlando yet but he's one of my favorite people in
Mozambique. He's so smart, speaks English so well, and is so kind and
appreciative. He's had many other volunteers as teachers and knows
what a big difference Peace Corps can make, and unlike most others, he
has plans to improve his country. He has goals and dreams to help his
community, and for this, I really respect him. It takes something for
a person who comes from such poor upbringing to grow up and not always
think about getting rich and making money. There are plenty of people
who are intelligent and have the skills to make money, but in order to
think about helping other people… damn. I'm impressed. He also gave me
his bed and slept on the floor! That's just the Mozambican way, and
that's another reason why I love him.

Day 19 (Beira to Buzi) Finally, thank god! I'm home.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

3 beaches in 2 weeks...whut whut?!

Didn't I say I had grand plans to travel? Boy, did I do that. So here
is a summary of my 2 week vacation. I basically traveled the entire
country, 7 different provinces, in 19 days. Here's what I did:

Day 1: (Buzi to Sussundenga) Left the house at around 9 AM and
traveled all day by chapa to arrive at my destination at around 5:30
PM. Met my friends, cooked and ate dinner, and then off to bed.

Day 2: (Sussudenga) This is the site of my friend Dov. He teaches
Chemistry to 9th graders, and today, he is having a science fair for
his students. This is a school level fair, where winners will be
chosen to attend the regional fair. I was very happy to have been
there. I had my fair a couple of weeks ago, but it was not nearly as
successful. I only had 6 participants, and their projects were not as
creative as some of Dov's students. He had 15 participants, with a
great panel of judges and a lot of participation from the audience. I
was very proud of him. The turn-out of the fair rests entirely on how
hard the Peace Corp volunteer works, and judging from the many people
that showed up, he worked very hard. It's always amazing to me how
these students can come up with these different experiments with
resources available in their towns. How can they think of these
different things when some of their teachers don't really know how to
teach, when their libraries have no books, and when they cannot go
online to do research? Shocking.

After the fair, we ate with our country director, who also attended,
and then said good-bye to him. Then Dov and I climbed a little hill
and walked around Sussundenga. I LOVE visiting other volunteers'
sites. It makes you appreciate your site so much more, and it makes
you feel less alone. Sussundenga was a really beautiful site. The
drive into the town is full of endless land and mountains, and because
of the higher elevation, it was nice and cool. The town was large
enough for him to get a lot of what he needed in terms of food, but
was also small enough that you could walk all the way through in 1 to
2 hours. ( I should know. I got lost and did end up walking almost the
entire town). Suss was also only 45 minutes from the large city,
Chimoio, so he had no problem traveling. Though it was very beautiful,
it made me appreciate my site a lot, too. I was so happy that I have
an indoor bathroom, so that taking morning showers outside with the
cold breeze was not a problem. I'm also grateful to my neighbors, and
I'm also happy that many of the people in Buzi know who I am. They're
used to having a foreigner around, so they don't make fun of me as

Day 3: (Sussudenga to Chimoio) In the morning, we walked around Dov's
site some more so that I could look for clothes to buy. A lot of mine
are starting to have holes in them, but we were not successful in
finding good clothes. After lunch, we headed for Chimoio. We were
planning on taking the 4AM bus from here to the next site, Quelimane,
a 10 hour trip away. Well, when we got there, the tickets were already
sold out, so we had to stay at another volunteer's site, and find a
ride the next day. So, we called up Trineise, a health volunteer,
whose site was Chimoio. She had a very nice house to herself, but I'm
not sure about having Chimoio as a site. Although it's a very nice
city, my favorite by far, it's too large. Nobody knows your name.
People don't come to your house to visit. You can't really walk around
at night. Dov and I got lost and walked around for almost an hour
looking for our pizza restaurant. I much prefer the small town feel of
Buzi. She was very nice to put us up. It's awesome that we can just
crash at people's houses without having to pay for a hotel. With all
that money we saved, Dov and I decided to splurge on pizza for dinner,
and damn, it was sooooooo good.

Day 4: (Chimoio to Quelimane) Since we missed the bus that would take
us directly to Quelimane, we had to get up at 5 to catch a chapa out
of Chimoio to another town where we could catch another bus to
Quelimane. Luckily, we made it to Inchope and by 7:30 AM, were on our
way on a bus. The bus ride was from 7:30 to 4:30. That was 9 hours!
The distance is not that far, but with the roads being bad, the bus
not being very fast, and us having stops every couple of hours for
people to pee in the bushes, it took us forever! Good thing we hadn't
slept that well the night before and I had a book to read. When we got
to Quelimane, we had 3 options: paying for a hotel, staying with a
volunteer, or sleeping on the bus. Staying with a volunteer meant that
we had to get a hold of her, and neither of us have yet to meet this
girl. Paying for a hotel meant spending money, so that we didn't want
to do. The other option was to sleep on the bus. We had to buy our
ticket to our next stop, Nampula, that night anyway, and in this
country, you can just sleep on the bus until it leaves early the next
morning. I didn't really like this option because sleeping on the bus
meant having to deal with mosquitoes buzzing in your ear the whole
night, not to mention having to sit up. We were so lucky to have
gotten in contact with the volunteer there, Sarah, who totally hooked
us up with a place to stay. Peace Corps volunteers are the best! Even
though we'd never met, she offered us a mattress, and her house had a
friggin' shower! I was so ridiculously happy after that 10 hour bus

My thoughts on Quelimane as a site. Though Sarah had a bombass house,
I did not like her site. The city was a very large city, larger than
Chimoio; I think the 4th largest city in Mozambique. It was filthy in
some parts, and crowded. Walking to dinner that night, I was afraid of
getting mugged. Again, you don't get to know people and they don't
know you as well. Something about being in a city makes me lose that
feeling of comradery and tranquility that I have in my little town.

Day 5: (Quelimane to Nampula) So, I went from Chimoio, central, to
Quelimane, a little more north, to Nampula, which is basically the
north. Dov and I had to wake up 4:30 AM that morning to catch the bus
to Nampula. Good thing we bought our ticket the night before. Though
the first bus ride was also long, this bus ride seemed worse for some
reason. I didn't like that they packed so many people into the bus.
All the seats were already sold and occupied, yet we kept making stops
along the way to pick up more and more people. There were tons of
people sitting in the bus isle and towards the front where the door
was. It made it way difficult to get out and pee, and it was so hot.
Dov and I got really bored, too, so we ended up playing 20 questions a
lot. We did not arrive in Nampula until 3 PM, the 3rd largest city in

This city houses our Peace Corps office for the northern regions, but
not sites for volunteers. Therefore, Dov and I had to walk around with
our Lonely Planet book looking for a place to stay. We finally found a
place that was cheap and gave a tiny discount to PC volunteers. When
we got to our room, it had an odor to it. The shower did not have hot
water, and though it advertised AC, there was none. I didn't care too
much because I was happy they had any kind of shower, period. We were
unpacking when Dov opened a drawer, and we saw something furry with a
tail. It was definitely some kind of animal, but he immediately shut
it. I don't know why, but he opened the drawer again, but the animal
had disappeared. But being Dov, he tried the drawer to the left of it,
and found nothing. I warned him not to open the one to the right, but
he did it anyway, and the damn rat leaped out the drawer and scurried
across the room under our bed. WTF! I was really freaked out, but what
could we have done? So we just went to dinner and then went to bed.
Stupid cheap hotel. Dinner was really good, though, cause I got to eat
Lebanese food and met up with 2 other volunteers on their way through
Nampula, as well. Yum! It's funny how there are volunteers everywhere.

Day 6: (Nampula to Muecate) We got out of that rat-infested hotel
early and headed over to the Peace Corps office to meet up our friend
Diana, who we were going to travel with the rest of the way. After
that, the 3 of us walked around Nampula for a bit and then had lunch
with another volunteer from our group Margaret, a health volunteer
from the North. Lebanese food, and I got ice-cream. Damn man. You
don't appreciate ice-cream until you never get to have it, so that
even the soft-serve stuff like the kind from McDonalds would make you
orgasm in your pants. I LOVE ice-cream! Then we walked to the chapa
stop to travel to Diana's site, a small town about 1 hour outside of

Diana and her roommate Rebekah, both from my year, had a wonderfully
huge house. It was so cute! But the girls did not get along with the
director of their school and the town was brown and dusty. I'm sure
there is real beauty to it, but it made me miss Buzi a little since
our site is so green and the buildings are somewhat colonial looking.
It was nice to catch up with them.

Day 7: (Muecate to Ilha de Mozambique) We left around 5:30 AM by chapa
and arrived at Ilha around lunch time. Thank goodness that wasn't too
long a ride. Finally made it to the goal of my travels.

Fucking Ilha… It was such a wonderful site! Did you know that it's a
World Heritage Center? Not in many places can you find this
combination of Indian, Chinese, African, and Portuguese culture. This
island was discovered by Vasco da Gama around the same time America
was supposedly discovered by Christopher Columbus. The Portuguese then
proceeded to transform it into this huge trading spot, and since the
Portuguese also had territorial claims in Macau and India, they
brought a lot of that influence over to Ilha, as well.

Ilha is actually an island that's connected by a 3km bridge to the
main land. The town is actually divided into 2 parts: the stone town,
and the Mecula town. The stone town was the Portuguese part, where
houses were made mostly of stone. The Mecula town was the African
part, where houses were made of mud, reeds, or concrete, the normal
way. Most of the people lived in the Mecula part. The stone part is
where the tourist hotels and restaurants were, the hostpital, and the
school. My friend Meagan was lucky enough to be placed in Ilha, and
had a house in the stone part of town, so again, free lodging for us!

When we got there, we ate lunch at a nice café owned by some Eurpeans.
As we walked through the town earlier, I'd already felt like we'd left
Africa from all the stone houses, but eating at this nice café made me
feel even more like I'd left the continent. In the afternoon, we went
to the beach. My first real beach in Mozambique! The water was clear,
the sand white, and only a few tourists around. What more could I have
asked for? We sunned and swam, and on chilled on the beach. Later in
the afternoon, more of the locals came around to swim, so it felt a
little more like Africa again, but a more beautiful and relaxing

On our way back to Meagan's house, we saw a guy carrying 2 giant
lobsters in his hand walking down the street, and we bought one for 6
bucks. It was about the size of lower arm, from fingers to elbow. WE
boiled that baby up and lemon-butter sauced it. Soooooo good. My mouth
is watering as I write this. YUM –EE. Nothing like fresh lobster. It
was so funny cause Diana had never had lobster before, and she loved
it. No one knew how to cook it, but leave it to the girl from Texas to
represent. Then we were still hungry to so went for beers and dinner
at the local restaurant. More fresh fish curry, Mozambican style. I'd
died and gone to seafood heaven.

Day 8: (Ilha to Chokas) The next day, we'd wanted to leave Ilha for
another island beach off of Ilha called Chokas Beach, but it rained,
so we decided to do the museum tours of Ilha and look at the oldest
fort in Sub-Saharan Africa first. I took a tour of the old governor's
house. Before Mozambique got its independence 35 years ago, it was
controlled by the Portuguese, who decided that Ilha was the capitol of
Mozambique. They'd built this huge house for their governor, and I got
to tour it. They'd brought over a lot of furniture from China and
India, and I think these two cultures also had a very large influence
on the way the people lived and navigated the waters around
Mozambique. I also got to tour the church and saw how they designed
their stone houses to collect water. It was awesome! Then we went to
the fort. It was really pretty and well-laid out, but I was toured out
by this time, so I just took a whole lot of pretty pictures.

Then we ordered egg sandwiches to-go and since the weather got so much
nicer, we headed off to Chokas Beach. Okay, so Chokas, hands down, is
the best beach I've been to. If you're the type to like beaches with
nice resorts, top-of-the notch hand and feet service, lined with bars
offering all types of good drinks and food, and hot men and women in
skimpy bikinis to look at, then Chokas is NOT the beach for you. But
if you're like me, and you like the white sand, the clear, calm water,
the breeze blowing through your hair as you sit bathing in the sun,
and the sound of the waves hitting the shores, then Chokas is the
beach of your dreams. It's exactly that. We'd found a shack to stay
in, with no electricity nor bathroom. I had to sneak into another
house to use their bathroom, but atleast it was cheap. The guard of
the shack was also our chef, since we just bought fish, octopus, and
clams fresh off the beach and let him cook it for us. We'd tried to
walk down a little ways to the only restaurant in sight to drink, but
it also didn't have energy for a long time. Good thing the beers were

So if there was no electricity, and no "scene", why did I adore Chokas
so much? I guess because of the tranquility of it all. It was so
shocking to me that there still existed places undiscovered by man
that were so gorgeous. When we got there, there seriously was no one
on the beach except the four of us. The shacks and houses were up a
little ways, so you couldn't even see them, so it was almost like
being on a gorgeous beach on a deserted island. We swam, we read, and
we just laid there listening to the ocean. No music from some bar up.
No children screaming. Maybe because I'd been cooped up in my little
village for too long and was too ecstatic at the sight of a beach.
Maybe because I was awed by the fact that this dreamy beach has not
been polluted with human existence. Who knows. I was really happy.

Day 9: (Chokas to Ilha to Carapira) That night it was really cold and
uncomfortable to sleep cause the house with no energy had no mattress
as well. I didn't bring a sleeping bag, and the breeze was very strong
at night, but that awfulness washed away with the waves as I watched
the sun come up. And then I took my IPOD and walked along the shores
for an hour before swimming in the morning ocean. Damn…. THAT's the
reason you ought to join Peace Corps! Not to help people, but for the
chance to visit places like this! Haha… just kidding. But seriously,
if I had not joined PC, I never could have imagined a beach like this.
Too bad we only had 1 day there, and had to head back to Ilha the next
morning to travel some more. We showered at Meagan's and ate lunch on
Ilha before heading off to visit another volunteer's site in Carapira,
Amanda's site.

Carapira is a very, very small town, but it's located right along a
highway, so it's not difficult to travel from there. Amanda's school
is a technical school, which meant that it was for students who wanted
to become agricultural workers or carpenters. She only had 3 to four
turmas a day, with the class size ranging from 16 to 25 students. Can
you believe that?! I have 5 to 6 turmas a day ranging from 50 to 70
students. Her students pay around 2500 meticais a year to attend,
whereas my students pay 300 meticais a year. So ofcourse, the
facilities were a lot nicer. She was very well integrated into her
small town.

See what I mean by each volunteer having a completely different site?
That's why you can't really enter into training and expect to come out
prepared cause there's no way the training staff can prepare you for
the range of sites available. I always wonder why people would quit
during training. All you need to do is stick it out a couple of months
and your life could completely change. Well, anyways, we walked around
with Amanda a little and had a great dinner.

Day 10: (Carapira to Pemba) We left the next day around 7:30 AM and
caught a ride on an 18-wheeler to arrive at Pemba at around 5 PM.
Starting here, the lodging just gets better and better. So…. Pemba is
boasted to have one of the most beautiful beaches in Mozambique. We
arrived on a Sunday, and the beach was packed. You can imagine my
disappointment after being on Chokas, but people assured us that it
was only Sunday traffic. They're usually not that packed. Because of
the beautiful beaches, there is a lot of foreigners in Pemba, just
like in Ilha. That made it cleaner, more expensive, and safer to walk
around, mostly. Very touristy. Our lodging is called Russel's Place,
which is basically a camp for backpackers. I never knew what it felt
like to be a backpacker until I joined Peace Corps. I gotta say, it's
pretty awesome. You pick yourself a guidebook, pack some clothes, a
tent, and a sleeping bag and get on the road. Follow the directions in
the book and show yourself around. It's awesome. Sometimes, the tent
is not even necessary cause at Russel's, they provide you with a bed
and sheets, very much like a dorm situation. The bathroom is communal,
and it even had hot water, which felt so good. You can go eat at a
restaurant or you can just buy food, make yourself a campfire and
cook. When you have time, sit around the bar and drink and meet other
backpackers and hear their story. Unfortunately, we already had our
own group so we didn't do any mingling, but if I were to go by myself…
shit… I'd talk to other people. We were also so tired from traveling,
all we could do was eat and then we went to bed.

Day 11: (Pemba) It rained this day, so all we did was find a
restaurant on the beach and vegged out. So relaxing to listen to your
ipod and read a book on the beach. Then the sun came out, and we went
tide pooling. You know me, I love science and biology, so it was so
fun for me to go into the tide pools to look for funky sea creatures.
I found some really cool sea urchins, starfishes, eels, snails, all
kinds of things. Then we met up with Sara, a health volunteer that
works in Pemba and went to her house. Remember how I said every
volunteer has a different experience? Well, Sara lives maybe 5 minutes
from the beach and walks along the beach everyday to get to her
workplace. There are tons of foreigners and ex-patriots in Pemba so
she has lots of foreigner friends. However, everything is also more
expensive in Pemba, so she can't really save money and doesn't travel
out of site that much, unlike me, who likes to get out every chance I
get. Things are also way cheaper in Buzi, and since it is so in the
middle of nowhere, no one ever comes to visit me. Sara, on the other
hand, has a visitor every month, which I wouldn't think is too great
cause then you'd have to play host on a low budget. Not too fun. Damn.
Okay so I'm just gonna post this now but I still have more days to
describe and one more beach to rate, but that'll have to be for next