Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sand Fleas

I don't know what they look like exactly, but sand fleas are these little insects that apparently burrow into your foot and live under your skin.

The reason I am telling you this is because I had noticed a bump on my big toe for a few days now and I was freaking out about. I was worried that it was some sort of staph infection or something. I even emailed my doc Jennifer and uncle Paul about this. For a few days I've been worrying over what it was, because it didn't hurt or itch. Anyway, I was messing with the bump last night when my host brother noticed it and pointed it out to the whole family. Everyone gathered around my foot and after some portuguese-english dictionary use, it was decided that I had a sand flea. They said they come from Maputo or Beira (they don't live in Tete) and that my 'muito grande' sand flea looked like it had been in there for five days.

So, five days ago I was in Beira visiting an orphanage with Melanie and Priscila. Later that night we ended up hanging out with one of the workers there, Heather, who told us that she had just removed a sand flea from her foot and that they are common at the orphanage because of the animals and the younger kids don't take the best care of their feet.

I woke up this morning to find that the little guy in my foot was actually a little gal, because she had ripped a slit in my skin and started laying eggs in the dried blood along the toe nail. So of course, I'm freaking out that the eggs had fallen into my bed or that I'll have a family of these guys in my foot. Thankfully, my host sister gets a needle out and cuts away the skin around the flea and pulls it out.

Over the next hour the hypochondriac in me starts inspecting every bump on my body and I show every one of em to my host mom who has a hearty laugh at my expense.

Bem Vindo Mocambique, eh?

Your brother,

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My New Home

I don't even know where to begin the comparisons between the states and Tete. There really is none. I'll try to highlight some of the aspects of life that I think are pretty unusual - but I bet there are a surprising number of similarities that I am just taking for granted. Life is more difficult here, but it's pretty darn pleasant overall. I don't have any pictures yet, but they will come. I promise.

I live with a Mozambican middle class family. But it helps to remember that middle class here looks vastly different than the middle class in the states. We live in a concrete house with a tin roof. But we have neighbors with much less. That was a hard concept for me to grasp and I guess it still is tough for me. Our middle class and theirs are not even close. Their middle class seriously looks like those commercials you see for those sponsor a child programs. Seriously.

We have electricity but no running water. I've tried to help with fetching the water a few times. The spigot where we get the water from is in someone's front yard. Right next to that spigot lives some chicken, pidgeons, a family of ducks, some goats, and a pig. Kinda gross, but I filter my water - so no worries there (although my canteen that i use smells terrible on the inside right now for some reason).

We have two TVs but no refrigerator. Pai has a 50cc motorcycle, but it seems to be used only for going to town to pick up supplies for the family store that is operated right in front of the house in a grass shack (seriously).

We take bucket showers, which are surprisingly pleasant especially when the water is boiled in the kettle first. Far and away the best thing about bucket showers in Mozambique is that they are frequent. It seems pretty wasteful to take more than a shower a day coming from the states, but in Moz it's actually a great way to keep up hygiene and cool off in the summer. Which are incredibly important here.

The family has a bathroom sink and a toilet, both of which are not plumbed. They are pretty useless. Except at night, when it's too dark to pee outside. Only pee is allowed in the toilet for now. It sounds weird but this all makes sense because Tete is built on a gigantic rock. Water from flush toilets would have nowhere to go since infiltration of wastewater through the subsurface just isn't possible.

The family cooks with a little charcoal stove called a Fugao which makes the food delicious, but the kitchen unbearably hot. I can't imagine what it'll be like in the summer months. This morning, i woke up smelling a fire outside that was being used to warm hot water for my bath and later that same fire was used to fry fish. Again, delicious but crazy inconvenient.

Apparently even the people who have lived in Tete their whole lives also think it's a very hot place. There's a guy in my office who looks like Kanye West. Here's a quote from him, "They should send all the bad people to Tete, so that they can practice for Hell." Ridiculous!

Also, the concept of time here is very loose. My language teacher is 20 minutes late, which is why I finally have time to do some blogging.

He's here so I gotta go. Your brother,