I cannot believe another month has just FLOWN by! August has been a really bad blogging month for me due to many reasons, mostly technical (no internet/no cell phone service/no electricity/etc. makes it harder) so I figured I would post a little wrap-up of the month and then start fresh for September, should technology cooperate : )
First off, something significant happened to me this month—I got my first ever blogger love in the mail! Courtney of Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life was kind enough to share some M&M love with a fellow sweet-toothed xará (namesake) across the Atlantic!
M&Ms! Peanut butter! Dark chocolate! Pretzel! Coconut! I didn’t even know those last three flavors existed until I saw Pretzel on her blog (I have been gone THAT LONG.)
Thanks Courtney for making my august WAY sweeter : )
August started with my Peace Corps Close-of-Service conference, a monumental event: our last conference all together as Volunteers. It was held close by in a neighboring beach town, Inhassoro. So to make the short trip a bit longer (and a bit more fun), we decided to commission a boat to take us.
Nice weather, eh? It didn’t bode well for a day on the water, but we were nonetheless excited.
It started off pretty enjoyable and the rain looked like it miiight not fall…
But then it started raining. Our conversation slowed and we just kind of waited it out. Moods were still positive, however. We were on a boat journey to our last PC event! Capulanas (pieces of cloth used for absolutely anything) were brought out as very-not-waterproof protection.
We wanted to get dropped off at the lodge from the beach (obviously, we were on a boat) but locating it proved to be much more difficult than anticipated. But finally, we arrived. It was supposed to take two hours, it took six. I decided that that meant we got three times the fun for the same price. Win-win!
We arrived at Dugong Lodge where our conference was going to be held and got put up in some pretty awesome A-frames.
The three days were spent discussing readjusting to America and trying to get jobs and get into grad school and the like—important stuff, but scary. Thinking about the “Real World” post-Africa just seems so surreal!
I got to go running on the beach every morning at sunrise and I have to say sunrise beach runs might be in the top 3 of my Mozambique experiences.
We had time just getting to enjoy each others´company and relax, knowing that this would be the last time we would see each other.
Probably the other best part was the FOOD: PCV’s love to eat, especially real, decent meals, and we got burgers, sandwiches with deli meat (unheard of), and a seafood feast. And three kinds of cake at each lanche (snack break).
That would be a milk tart (a South African dessert), apple crumble something and carrot cake. For the week: this X 2,000.
It was a fun week and a great way to usher in the last three months of Peace Corps.
I got to do some cooking experiments throughout the month as well. One highlight was tag-teaming fresh pesto, made from all the leaves from our basil plant in Eve’s blender. Camille and I were devoted taste-testers and I don’t think I will ever want store-bought again. But I am way too lazy to hand-make pesto when it isn’t out of necessity.
I finally had a reason to enjoy my birthday gnocchi (I found it one time ever in Moz and bought it to eat on my birthday but just ended up eating cake for dinner, and since I love it so much I was waiting for an occasion… fresh pesto seemed to be perfect. I have made gnocchi here before, and I wasn’t very eager to repeat THAT.)
I also made several batches of my dad’s (aka Ina Gaarten’s) butternut squash and apple soup. This is so easy and absolutely amazing. All it calls for is butternut squash, apples, onions, curry, salt, pepper, and apple juice.
- Sautee a bunch of chopped onions in curry powder with a little oil,
- and then add some water and a bunch of chopped sweet apples and butternut squash and simmer until soft.
- Then you can blend it to puree (or just mash it up in the pot like I did…),
- add salt and pepper to taste,
- and add apple juice when stirring to reach the desired consistency (should be thick).
I know this is vague, but you don’t really need specifics. Living in Africa has really released my recipe OCD—with some things, like this soup, if you’ve got the main ingredients, its going to work out!
We had a bairro (neighborhood) dinner and I tried a new recipe for nutella banana bread, found HERE on recipegirl.com.
It was really easy to make and really, really delicious. I guess anything made with banana and nutella is going to be delish, but seriously. I liked that this recipe called for plain yogurt and I actually HAD it, so it wasn’t just butter and oil and it was SERIOUSLY good. Highly recommend trying this one out!
I also got a second opportunidade to go to the Vilanculos sand dunes, a breathtaking place several kilometers north of town. We went with a visiting American consultant, Faith, and enjoyed some relaxing (everyone), some swimming (not me), and some headstand practice (Camille and I) on the beach. (Note to self: the beach is great for practicing headstands and Crane but be warned it might take several showers to remove the sand from your scalp.)
Faith brought a little art project with her: her friend from the States runs something called the Spore Project, where you make “mushrooms” using skewers, rubber bands and plain brown paper bags, and set them up in public places and document it. Check out the website, it is really cool! I need to remember to bring a few bags on my travels to Asia to contribute.
The last week of August also marked one of my last big commitments as a Peace Corps Volunteer. We had trimester planning for my project at CARE, and on Wednesday I had the full day to, along with my counterpart, lead a training called “AIDS and Me.” The day was less of a technical training, but more of an opportunity to reflect and look inside ourselves at our own beliefs, stigmas and opinions relating to HIV and AIDS. Which, as you would imagine, is extremely relevant in a place like here. I was a bit nervous to be facilitating discussions on such sensitive topics, but it seemed to go really well and people were talkative. Then, the next two days we did our project planning and I saw some of my coworkers for potentially the last time ever, which is sad to think about.
Immediately after the planning I headed down south to a BEAUTIFUL town in Inhambane called Quissico, for an annual music festival known as “Timbila” or “Amizava.” Colin and I left at 2:15 for a 3AM bus, which was going fine minus some dudes who were probably high. Then this happened. T.I.A…
The bus never left that gas station. Several unsuccessful attempts later we finally got a hitch in a truck that had been used to carry sand. With the sandstorm covering us, it felt like we were at the beach… in a horrible way. Three rides later, we arrived.
Only to find out that the tent I had hauled down didn’t have the poles inside it. And with 30 people there, there were no other sleeping options. So we made it work. (My friend is in there still in this pic. It wasn’t the most comfortable night but again, T.I.A.!)
Broken busses and incomplete tents nonwithstanding, the weekend was great. It was solid time with a ton of my favorite Peace Corps Volunteers, made even more special by knowing that we are so close to the end.
There was chicken. There was local rum. There was meat on sticks. Life was good.
Sunday morning, we took a walk down to the lagoa, or lagoon, that Quissico is famous for. It’s fresh water! There was no time to swim, but it was a lovely little hike to stretch our legs and visit a beautiful little spot.
All in all August was pretty good to me. Now I have September and October to live my “normal” Mozambican life (what is “normal,” anyways?) and then come November… everything changes. But here’s to enjoying the ride!
P.S. August, with all its technical difficulties, meant that Brandi was kind enough to feature me as part of her Behind the Blog series a month ago and I never linked it here… check out my behind the blog if you want to!
Have a wonderful start to September everyone!
What were your highlights of the last month? What are you most looking forward to in September?