Thursday, August 14, 2008

jump to conclusions mat

I walked into Oitava 2 on Monday, ready to do battle and was surprised to find 90 perfect angels staring back at me. At first I thought that it must have been my stellar teaching style but after a few seconds of thought, I realized there had to be something more to it. I went and talked to the teacher filling in as pedagogical director and my dreams had come true: he had yelled at them. Erin: 1. Unruly students: 0. It was honestly the most perfect class session in the world. I also found out the name and number of the student who had 'sassed' me and gave him a falta vermelha. I made a big show of it too by pulling him out in front of all the other students and marching him to the school office, borrowing someone's red pen and writing down his number and a big falta vermelha next to it in front of him. It wasn't hard at all to find out that it was him. I had already thought it was him and all the other students ratted him out. He had come late to school and his fellow classmates had even come specifically to find me to tell me that he was now at school and I could take action. I know that they only did it because they love to see drama. The student wasn't happy with me but I didn't care at that point.

I have found that I have a temper. I've never had any patience to begin with (for example, I was almost born in the car on the way to the hospital) and living here in Mozambique has been a good test of my patience or lack thereof. Nia and I submitted a pedido (a request) to the local government building to use the community stage for our Future Business Leaders competition on Saturday. I went and checked on it because it was taking forever to pass and surprise, surprise, they had lost it. Shocking. To make matters worse, when the man I was talking to called to check on it, he had a question for me and addressed me as 'menina.' Girl. At that point, I was so over talking with him. When we were done talking, I just mumbled 'obrigada!' in a very ungrateful way and traipsed out of the office. Passive aggression is my middle name. That's the second time they have lost a pedido. They lost Nia's when she was asking to paint a mural on a wall in the Vila for her JOMA group. I don't understand what's so difficult there.

I went to the Centro de Recursos (like a public library) to use their computer to print off certificates for the participants in our FBLM competition. I made the certificate and asked the lady for paper to print, giving her 5 mt to pay for it. I went to print it off and it didn't work because there is no ink. I then went and asked the exact same lady I gave the money to to print and she said 'yeah, there's no ink.' Why in the world would you give someone paper to print something off when there is no ink?! And when the other lady working saw that the printer wasn't working, she said 'oh, it's the cables. I don't want to mess with them. They confuse me.' I was like 'it's not the cables. You don't have any ink. Can I have my 5 mt back?' I asked that about 5 times and never got it back, so I just gave up. And then they said maybe it would print off if I used color. This one guy wanted to show his computer skills and took the keyboard and mouse away from me to make everything purple. I snatched it back from him and said I could do it myself. Even then it didn't work.

Planning anything here is frustrating about 90 percent of the time. We are figuring that out right now with this competition. People don't seem to realize that the money we are giving to the winning group to start a business is not our own money but the money from PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). One girl came to the house today and talked to Nia. She told Nia that someone had told her that the two American teachers have a lot of money and they are just giving it away. So apparently she thought that if she came to our house and asked, we would give her money. I was working with my REDES girls on making the capulana bags at our house Tuesday and a student told Nia 'wow, Professora Erin has a lot of money. She can buy all those capulanas!' Nia stressed to him that it wasn't my money but money from our organization. If the jump to conclusions mat from Office Space actually existed, people here would be professionals at that game. Example, if you are walking down the street with a male colleague, people automatically assume that you are dating and are doing more than just chatting. It makes me wanna pull my hair out sometimes.

I think we may have finally encountered the crazy man we had been warned about by our predecessors. I was alone at the house last week and this dirty man with no shoes entered the fence without asking first. That's a first clue that he's up to no good. And then when I noticed him and asked him what he wanted, he approached me quickly with a bag of leaves, asking if I wanted to buy them. No one approaches the doorway of a person's house. It just seems threatening to me now and against custom. He kept looking through the doorway into the house. I was pretty happy to have Timba there with me. I went into the house and shut the iron bars and told him I didn't want anything and that he could leave. The man didn't blink either, intensifying his creepy factor. Then, the other day, I was walking through the market with a bag of bread I just bought and he would not leave me alone, following me and begging for bread. He got to be a nuisance so then I turned to him and forcefully said 'DEIXA-ME!' and he left me alone. Yesterday, he was standing at the opening to our fence and I saw him first through my bedroom window. He just stood there, staring. Nia saw him and went out, telling him to go away. All he said was 'give me 10 meticais!' She shut the fence gate on him. If he comes again, I am going to tell him we are going to tell the police. I was talking to our embrigada and she said that he smokes something that makes him crazy. With the last volunteers, he asked for water and when the volunteer went to get it, he snuck in behind her and grabbed something from the house. So weird. I don't think he's harmful, just creepy and insane.

Our FBLM competition is Saturday and we are having the groups present their ideas to three local judges and then we also have performances of a couple music groups and a theater group on AIDS. It should be fun/stressful. We're both pretty excited to see it all through though. And then we are off to Ilha for the night to celebrate a fellow PCV's birthday. I'll post pictures next week of the competition for all to see!

1 comment:

Heather said...

Hey Erin, I have a request: will you find out how to say "I love you" in Macua? I forgot and I wish I could remember.

I wonder if that crazy guy was the same that bothered me one time. I had locked the back door and was cooking on the back porch and I walked into sala and his face was up in the window. He scared me so bad I dropped my food on the floor and screamed. The police hanging out under that tree all laughed at me, but I felt trapped because the back door was locked and he was right there! I bet it's the same guy.