Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lunch with Fatima

This week was amazing! JJ and I completed an "Orientation Course" on Mozambique. We spent the week participating in discussions with historians, editors of newspapers, leaders of political parties and writers. We also had field trips all over town. It was part of a course that taught us about Mozambique's culture and history.

We are living in a country that we knew nothing about. It is a strange feeling living in a country where you did not know the national holidays, political parties or any basic history. Imagine living in the United States and not knowing why there is a 4th of July or who George Washington is. It sounds strange...but that is what it is like for us...well, at least for me. JJ might have been a little more informed. Now we are both familiar with the history...everything makes more sense as we walk around the city and go around on our day-to-day activities.

The best part of the class was the FIELD TRIPS! We visited museums, monuments, markets and took walks around the city. But by far my favorite moment was having lunch with Fatima and her family! Fatima's granddaughter works at the school that was coordinating the class. She welcomed us into her home and made a Mozambican feast for us...complete with appetizers and dessert.

As we first drove into this neighborhood with dirt roads and streets wide enough to barely fit our car we could see kids playing in the streets and families going on with their daily chores. It was a particularly warm day so everyone was outside trying to enjoy some of the breeze. None of these homes had air conditioning and you are lucky to have running water in your home.

As you start to look at the houses you can see that each house is built differently and with materials that they have found and collected over the years. Some houses are made of brick (you are considered rich if your house is brick or tile) and other houses are made of aluminum panels (like Fatima's) or any other materials they can find. The kitchen is usually outside and stoves are powered by coal.

This is how most of Maputo lives, but these are NOT the really poor folks! The rest of the country is filled with families that have much less than Fatima's. It is amazing to see their resilience and ability to get through every day and be thankful for what they do have.

Fatima was born in this house that was built by her parents. I got to speak to Fatima...struggling with my mix of Spanish and Portuguese she asked me about my family and where I was from. I also found out she loves to watch soccer. I can just imagine her glued to the TV during the World Cup yelling and shouting for her favorite team. She is a riot! She also told me she was Muslim and then asked me if I knew what Muslim was? I laughed and told her yes. She went to explain that she was fasting for Ramadan and although she was making all this food for us she could not eat until later that night.

I also met some of her friends that were visiting from Ilha de Mozambique. Her friend had come to Maputo to have her tooth pulled out so she was not doing so well, but still joined in our conversation. Little by little her nieces and other members of the family stopped by to say hello. It reminded me of being in my abuela's house while she was cooking and the family coming in little by little to chat and spend some time together. I loved it!

Now I can say that I am a little bit more familiar with Mozambique and have taken a closer look at Maputo. I hope you like the pictures.

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