Aparna in Mozambique

Friday, February 15, 2008

Going to Maputo!

Hi All,

First, the pictures, then let's talk, right? Here they are, my latest and greatest from Maputo, Beira, and Catembe, the sister city to Maputo.

Pictures from Maputo and Beira

Well....At least I'm posting a little more often than I thought. I'm still not up to par, I know, but at least I'm trying right? The past few weeks have been part of my settling in although at this point I've been here for almost one month! I can't believe it and the time is going to sail on by, I can already see.

So, the first week since the last I've posted was spent trying to settle in to figure out my duties at the UCM. I am doing research, but mostly supporting some of the faculty in their interests. I am teaching, but also doing background research on a variety of topics. The second week, I spent in Maputo, trying to figure out how I was going to distribute my time. As a lot of you remember, in Malawi, I was doing research with the MVP. I got in touch with them here as well and looks like I am going to continue. Here it is a little different because the projects are younger so I'll be doing some baseline survey work for them and then later get involved in some of the project development.

I have my very first lecture on traditional birth attendants on Monday and I am really excited but also scared about speaking for an hour in Portuguese. The good thing is that I have reinforcements in case I get stuck, and of course, a powerpoint to read off of in case I am at a loss for words.

Then, on Tuesday, I move to Maputo to get started on the project. On Wednesday, I need to cross the border to Nelspruit, South Africa, so that my visa doesn't expire. Its a 3 hour trip both way on a luxury coach, so its not terrible, but still, seems so silly. Most foreigners can't stay in the country more than 30 days, unless you have a work permit. Its really weird that way. I guess it serves me right for getting my visa in Malawi instead of properly in the U.S.

Sadly, I don't have many deep insights at this point in time. I am still trying to understand the urban rural divide and why Maputo feels like Europe to me. Portuguese colonialism is a strange thing. They seemed to have squashed out the culture quite well. So much so that people actually believed that speaking their own languages was "tribal". So post-independence, the government eliminated things like traditional medicine and insisted that people speak portuguese. Now, many languages are dying out near the urban spaces. Chatting with people in the city, they say the last generation of speakers of indigenous languages were their grandparents. While this isn't true in the rural areas, with urbanization, comes a certain type of modernization. How Mozambique will go forward with that will be interesting to watch.

When I get to Maputo, I will keep you filled in on the ins and outs of big city life....I'm going to the city!



Blogger Anna said...

Enjoying reading your blog. That is great that you were able to use the MVP connection. Hope the lecture in portugese went well!

1:25 PM  
Blogger The Bear Maiden said...

For some reason--maybe because of the beach/ocean pictures, Mozambique looks like the sort of place I would LOVE to visit.

Interesting about the Portuguese Colonialism...

11:19 PM  
Blogger viarota said...

Hi Aparna,

I had easily forgotten about Maputo in my memory but recently reading your blog, feeling the lull of time, transported me right there to the balmy Indian Ocean. I remember how many Chinese industries were there.

I've recently returned from North India, on a trip that wasn't long enough to absorb and reflect on the culture shock. The first week I was so appalled by some of the things I saw, realizing that this was India in growth stage.

Anyway, an article about Blantyre reminded me of you. To admit a shortcoming, having Facebook often means I lose touch with those who aren't on it :-( It's something I need to work on. I'm so glad you write so that we may be inspired. Thank you.

4:21 AM  

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