Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moving to my new home

So I have internet access one last time for awhile. Why? you might ask. Well...I'm off to my new site/home! :-)

I finished training and was sworn in (and proceeded to count my blessings) on December 8, 2009 at the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique. It was pretty neat and we had some great guest speakers. After that, we returned to our soon-to-be-dearly-missed Namaacha to pack up the last of our stuff before heading our separate ways to all the corners of the country. Mine, you might ask? Zambezia!

I left for this north-central province on Wednesday for a conference with all the other volunteers in the northern provinces (Zambezia, Nampula, and Cabo Delgado) from health and education so we could meet our new bosses (from our NGOs, CBOs, and FBOs for those of us in health, school directors for those from education). We stayed in a hotel in Nampula city before waking up early the next morning to go to our sites. The 5 of us from my NGO actually won't head to our actual sites for another few days because we have an orientation to the organization for a couple of days before in Quelimane. As such, I have internet access...

So people might be interested in my site. I can't actually tell people exactly where it is or what it's name is, but I am allowed to be vague and tell you that it is in the middle of nowhere and that I am one of only a handful of volunteers who has absolutely NO electricity in my entire site. I'm pretty stoked about it and think it's awesome ("The Ultimate Peace Corps Experience"). I should have access to my phone and hopefully (fingers crossed) the internet from it, so feel free to call! I won't be able to update the blog as frequently, but I will be making the hours-long trek to any of a number of small cities on occasion to visit friends and pick up mail.

Speaking of mail! I have a new address! It is as follows:

Ethan Pickering
Corpo da Paz
C.P. 130
Quelimane, Mozambique

That's all you need to write on the envelope. Some people have asked if they need to write "Africa" under Mozambique. I assure you that although the rest of the world may not know where Mozambique is, the postal service does.

That's all for now! If you have questions about anything, feel free to call or post them on here. I won't be checking/responding in a timely fashion, but I promise I will get back to you.

Much love to all,


Friday, November 27, 2009

Too Much Time Since My Last Post... Happy Thanksgiving!

I realize that it's been over a month since my last post, and I'm really sorry for those of you who've been wanting more frequent updates. Fighting for a spot at one of the two computers in town against the other 67ish volunteers is rough, and made even more complicated by the fact that we've entered the rainy season, which means the internet and power are prone to blacking out.

So what's happened since my last post? I fell deathly ill on a 5-day break at the beach, I've found out about my permanent sight placement, I've decided to grow my hair out (inspired by my two dear friends, Lisa and Anna, who wanted me to accompany them to get dreadlocks in Maputo), and so much more.

Starting with the falling deathly ill... I went to the northern province of Nampula to visit the site of one of the volunteers who is already there (from the group in the year before). Recognizing that not much goes on in his small town, we met up with some other volunteers and trainees at the beach called Ilhe de Moçambique, a beautiful old colonial town on the coast that was the last refuge of the foreigners in the civil war. As a result, there are loads of expatriots there just hanging out. From there, we took a boat to another small island that is basically a beach resort. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and it was nice to relax on the beach with a great group of trainees and volunteers. On the last day, however...I got sick. And I don't mean "oh, I need a couple aspirin" sick. I mean I woke up feeling "off" and about an hour later, I was throwing up every 10 minutes for about 6 straight hours and had a fever of up to about 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh yeah, and throw diarrhea in the was no good. I'm really glad I had so many people who could take care of me, because I was delirious and hallucinating from the lack of fluids and electrolytes and boiling hot blood. I had just weighed myself a few days before with my friend, Greg, to see if we'd lost any weight since arriving here. When I got back home to my training site in Namaacha, I found a scale at a pharmacy and topped off at 177 pounds (a loss of 13 pounds in a day). Pretty awful, but I've recovered most of the weight and am feeling fine these days.

Site placements were Wednesday! We had a magnificent Thanksgiving dinner (on Wednesday, because we had programs scheduled on Thursday) with all the trainees, a few volunteers, and all the staff, with everyone bringing food or money to contribute to the general food fund. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. ANYWAY, for the more exciting part... We received our site placements for after our swearing-in ceremony in December. I'll be leaving for the province of Zambézia in the north-central part of Mozambique. My site is REALLY rural and I'll be working with an I-NGO (Inernational Non-Governmental Organization) that is affiliated with Vanderbilt University. I'm still not sure about the specifics of my job, but I'll be working with PLWHA (people living with HIV/AIDS) policy and care and treatment implementation and follow-up. That's a lot of technical jargon that really obscures the clarity of my actual job description. That aside, I'll be replacing a volunteer who just returned back to the States who sent me a letter saying that the house is small but nice, really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter, and that there may or may not be electricity. Still working on finding out about that one...

Oh, and having long hair hasn't seemed like much of a problem yet, so I'm growing it back out. Maybe to have dreds for awhile? I dunno. I still haven't figured out what I'm doing for lunch today, so planning for the long-term is still questionable. :-)

I'm still loving my host family, although "living with parents" is a long-lost experience that I haven't had since high school, so it feels a little smothering at times to live by someone else's schedule.

As for mailing options, I don't know what my new address is going to be with I get to Zambézia, so hold out on sending anything until I put up a new address (otherwise it will just go to our office in Maputo and sit there till I make it back there). Stuff that I'm looking for (should you feel the desire to send any love in material form) include incense sticks (to keep the mosquitos away), LOTS of Gatorade powder mix, and headbands. :-)

Much love to all, and I promise I'll try to get some pictures up soon.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Updated Address!

Alrighty, guys, so apparently I messed up the mailing address. Here is the updated version:

Ethan Pickering, PCV
Corpo da Paz / U.S. Peace Corps
Avenida do Zimbabwe, 345
CP 4398

Honestly, I'm not really sure what all the numbers mean, but that's the address I've been given. Feel free to send me love in the forms of letters, Big Red Gum, and/or dental floss. I'm always looking forward to any of those. Oh yeah, and perhaps a few rolls of hemp string so I can keep my hands occupied in my downtime with something other than washing my clothes by hand (which is getting painful due to major blisters in a few choice places).

I'm still having fun, and am definitely getting the hang of the whole Portuguese thing. I've somehow managed to escape having to kill a goat, which my host dad was telling everyone I would be doing. Am still counting my blessings for that. Killing a chicken was one thing... A goat is a much bigger and bloodier creature (I would imagine).

More to follow, but I'll try to take some pictures in the upcoming week to post onto Picasa. I promise I'll forward those to you when I can!

Muito amor desde Moçambique!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Finally a chance to update

Hey everyone!

The first 2 weeks have been pretty damn eventful, I must say. In that time, I've learned Portuguese, survived explosive Mozambican Mud Butt (in the same category as Montezuma's Revenge and Delhi Belly), killed/plucked/hacked up/cooked a chicken (and word on the street is that my host father is going to surprise me with a goat to kill tomorrow), re-learned how to do my laundry, and I've had my hate for gossip revived in small groups.

I'm still getting used to it all (like bucket showers rather than having running water), but my life has been made a little easier by having a cell phone with *sketchy* internet access. My host family is pretty sweet, with a few minor exceptions. My host parents are both really friendly and annoyingly helpful, and my host brother barely speaks Portuguese, since he grew up in Swaziland, so there's a lot of English flying around when he's not back in Swaziland.

I'm living in a small border town (not of the same class as Tijuana or Ciudad Juarez) on the southern border of Mozambique and am re-living my travel experiences of living in small towns. That is to say, there are two computers with working internet in the whole damned place, and I perpetually have to fight the other 68 people in my Peace Corps group for internet time. Needless to say, my posts for the next two months might be sparse.

Oh yeah, and somebody please, for the love of god, send me a box with thousands of frisbees. I've never seen such mayhem as when 18 billion elementary school children get out of class and see Americans throwing frisbees around. Utter mayhem. I've never been perceived to be so cool as I was to these Mozambican 10-year-olds while I held control of the disc.

That's all for now, as details are too many to mention. If you feel the need to call me, I'd love it. My phone number here is +258-82-294-8183. That should get my phone directly. If not, those of you in the States might try dialing +011 first. And please don't be offended if I don't call you. It costs about 40 cents a minute to call outside Mozambique, and considering I get less than US$20 per week as a living do the math.

Much love to all!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Contact Information

Hey everybody!

So I've never maintained a blog before, so bear with me while I get into some sort of rhythm. I'll try to keep updates as frequently as possible, but I make no promises. September 30 is the official departure date, so mark it in your calendars (if you care, which I'm guessing you do, since you took the time to check out my humble online abode). In the meantime, until I get a cell phone in Mozambique, here is how to send packages and mail, for those that care.

Ethan Pickering, PCV
Corpo da Paz / U.S. Peace Corps
C.P. 4398

I send you all much love, and look forward to keeping in contact as I can during training (for which all of my friends currently serving in the PC keep assuring me I'll survive).