I think it is safe to say that last night, after our second long week of language lessons and our first week of technical training, all of us were ready for happy hour. Luckily, beer is so cheap here (less than a dollar for half a liter) that every hour is happy hour. After classes finished we headed to Xavier’s, and later Tingas, for some drinks and dancing. Because there are 65 of us, it is a little difficult to go to any bar without kind of taking over. We also have a 9pm curfew, which means that we have to go out super early, and no locals are really going out to party at 8 o’clock, so things are a bit awkward at whatever bar we choose to frequent, but we make it work.
Despite the curfew, I had a great time dancing to an interesting mix of American and Mozambican music, and sort of experiencing Mozambican night life for the first time! I also got to eat dinner out for the first time, and had some truly life changing food at Tingas. Let me just say that when you have to order your meat by the kilo, it’s probably a good sign.
This morning, we had to be up bright and early for a field trip to the capital city, Maputo, with our language groups. We got to ride in chapas for the first time, which are large “18 person” vans that you can take for about 70 mets, or $1. The ride into Maputo only took about 90 minutes, and although I wouldn’t say it’s the worst method of transportation ever, the vans are pretty cramped and the drive is a little scary, because speed limits and traffic laws seem to be more of a suggestion here in Mozambique. However, we all arrived and returned safe and sound, and it was definitely a great first chapa experience to kind of ease me in, as there will be a lot of chapa rides in my near future!
I think the purpose of our visit to Maputo was partially to give us language practice and cultural exposure, but a lot of us had stuff we needed to buy in a larger city and everyone wanted to check out the capital as well. Although we stayed in Maputo for 2 days when we first arrived in Mozambique, we were not allowed to leave the hotel and I definitely felt a little bummed about not getting to explore a bit.
We arrived in Maputo at 8:30, visited the central market, bought a couple of things, and grabbed some breakfast. It was amazing to get real espresso after only having tea (which I don’t even like why do they force me to drink it every morning???) for the last two weeks. We stopped by a fabric store to buy capulana, which is the name for both the type of fabric and the clothes that are made from that fabric. I bought one capulana that I plan on getting made into a skirt, and a smaller capulana head scarf! Going to the capulana store was by far my favorite part of the trip, we spent at least 30 minutes there looking and I could’ve easily spent another 30 minutes picking out fabric. After being dragged out of the store by our language professor, we walked around a bit, and visited the natural history museum, where I learned that I really just am not into taxidermy. We had lunch in a delicious but kind of touristy park, and then grabbed a couple beers with our professor in one of his suggested bars. He’s lived in Maputo his whole life, so it was good to have a local guide who could show us some of the cooler places, and help us not get the tourist price for everything we were buying.
We had to go to a huge chapa loading area to get a ride back home, which was an interesting and slightly overwhelming experience. While sitting in the chapa waiting for it to depart, we were crowded on all sides by street vendors selling everything from snacks, to shoes, to drinks, to beauty products. These vendors are pretty persistent, and it led to some uncomfortable and funny moments with our limited Portuguese skills. Luckily our return driver had a pretty legit sound system, and we listened to Hotline Bling all the way home.
It was an interesting trip because it is clear that the Peace Corps is slowly trying to ease us into all the things we will have to do on our own when we go to site. As we are all functioning adults, it is kind of weird to have a 9 o’clock curfew, and supervised trips to the city. But to be honest, I really appreciate some of the babying we receive because knowing my language professor is 10 steps away makes paying for my chapa slightly less stressful!
It’s 9:30 now and quickly approaching my 10:00 bed time. Tomorrow my mãe and sister are going to church, I’m not sure what type of church they attend or if I am expected to go with them, so I’m just going to wake up at the normal 6:00 time and see what they say!