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 mix...it 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.