Monthly Archives: November 2009
The past 2 weeks have been hectic.
Several representatives from our funders have come through town to review the SEED project’s development and check that goals are being met. Of course, their arrivals come after some major changes in management and refocusing, so there is lots of work to catch up on. To keep getting funding we had to demonstrate that things are getting done.
For me, that meant getting several displays ready for the local hotels. Easy enough, right? But there are so many little details that had to get done along the way. And for each thing that needed to happen, there was always someone else to follow up with and triple check with; such as going to several different villages to meet with the weavers, collecting baskets, arranging fumigation, designing tags, printing tags, designing stands – then making them myself because they didn’t get done on time…I dunno what else, but it was a bit of a mad dash.
All in all it has reminded me of two things I am so very grateful for:
- Deadlines (to get things moving & done)
- The moments when I am reminded that ,even with all the major frustrations and doubts about getting things done here, there are times when everything does fall into place and works.
I’m going down to Maputo on Monday for a crafts fair with several of the weavers that we work with. The goal is to sell some of their products and also to show them how an exhibition works, the caliber that is expected and whatnot. Of course, this is still Africa so the standards are different and I have very little idea of what to expect myself. We shall see… Anyway, that also means I’ll be there for Thanksgiving. I know I’ll not be getting any turkey and stuffing, but a guinea fowl feast would be just fine.
Did you know this is what a cashew looks like!?
One curly little seed attached to the bottom of a sour fruit, hanging on a huge tree. (*note: the fruit and nut are upside down in the photo) I learned this today in Mabote, where cashew trees grow all over the town. I even got a taste of the local cashew fruit juice, that is fermented for a local beer and makes your mouth go numb. Not exactly a thirst quencher.
Went to a little village called Murure to meet the basket weavers.
It was an interesting community because the whole group of women was significantly older than the other groups I’ve met with so far. Also, they have a different style of weaving Xindzalas.
Instead of using palm, they make the baskets out of a vine. The raw material is locally found, and the women prepare it by holding it with their toes and whittling off the bark, leaving a clean, white cording underneath. When they are done weaving the baskets are extra sturdy and awesome.
This little ancient woman just emerged from the bush, and slooooowwwwly made it over to sit under the tree and weave. She had an amazing face, and I wish I spoke Xitswe, the local dialect, just so I could have asked her some questions. However, she scowled at me so I must have been staring rudely. But it was hard to take my eyes off her.
Ants are everywhere here, marching around oh so diligently. Out of respect and a real sense of awe at their numbers and organization, I let them dominate my bathroom sink, explore the kitchen, live in the kettle (and die in it) and carpet the outside of my fridge. Until…. I woke up this morning with ants in my bed!
“Too Far! TOO FAR!”
I cried out at 5 am.
Mercilessly I smushed, rolled and crushed them out of my sheets. Then went downstairs, washed them out of the sink, swept them outside, stomped on them and poured cinnamon on their anty paths. “CURSE THEM!!!” I grumbled. But as I sat down 2 hours later hot, sweaty and feeling self-satisfied with my newfound gumption, my eyes lingered on yet another trail. My gaze followed the little dotted path headed straight for my suitcase.
“NO!!!!! Is nothing sacred!?”
Defeated, I swept off those I could then, exhausted and itchy, got dressed for work.
I have a growing collection of shells that I’ve gathered since I arrived. Placed along the front ledge of my house, the collection is already wrapping around the porch. Many of my favorites are broken conk shells. They look like old bones with spirals and teeth. Someone commented that I was choosing ugly ones, but I think they’re much better models to paint.
I started my Portuguese lessons this week. My tutor’s name is Hamida, and she is very nice. She speaks English, but not to me. The first half of our lessons are normally more formal, then the next half is conversation. At that point I start speaking a very special creole language that I like to call Spanglishaguese. It’s an inspired conglomerate of different modes of communication (including hand gestures), but with raised eyebrows and many repeated corrections I’m letting it go. Si? Si.
No pumpkin to be found, so I made a festive shade to go over my camping lamp. I cut bat shapes out of an empty cereal box and stapled it back together inside out. How very Marth Steward of me, no?
On Friday night, Flora (my boss’ 5 year old daughter) and some other kids came trick or treating. It was Flora’s first Halloween, so she was so excited. I helped her mom, Helga, make a vampire cape out of some plastic from the market.
When the kids came by, they sang me two songs and recited the classic ”trick or treat, smell my feet….” rhyme that Sarah, the American Peace Corps volunteer, had taught them.
Saturday night we went to a benefit party for the local school. Dressed as fallen beauty queens, (I was “Miss Understood”, Sarah was “Miss Chievous” and Courtney was “Miss Demeanor”) we mingled with the local ex-pat community and danced the night away.