Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A few 1st impressions of my site

My town of Nova Mambone is a small river town. It is not a beach town, as it turns out, since the beach here is a big unpassable mangrove of mud and such (like the Everglades). The area has a very suburban feel, it seems like everywhere you look off the main road there are identical round mud huts with thatch roofs. Most people have the same model of fixed gear bicycle. I live inside of the school compound, which is surrounded by a chain link fence. I am currently living in the school directors house but they will build me a house with walls made out of caniso (yeah, I’m talking about straw, but the walls will be reinforced with mosquito netting and something solid to prevent people reaching through the wall to grab my ipod or whatever else they could get their hands on). This reminds me, the 3 little pigs story actually means something for the first time in my life. This is cyclone territory, and from what I can gather many people opt for permanently provisional housing, since whatever they build will probably be blown over within a few years.
The only blanket I sleep under here is a blanket of sweat. It’s summertime here, and it is humid with no AC. Sometimes I think that ought to be sexy because, you know, I’m in bed and covered in sweat, but really it’s not that sexy.
There’s a tv in the house and it plays the same adds over and over, maybe even worse than the U.S. There is a Brazilian soap that reminds me of Saved by the Bell and a Chinese soap that I am in awe of, like a bad sappy yet completely entertaining romance movie about friendship and love and doing the right thing, I’m compelled to watch it.
My school director is laid back and friendly, which is a blessing. I was worried that I might end up with someone on a permanent rank-pulling bureaucratic power trip, which happened to one volunteer I've talked to. Some mornings we walk a ways to a long stretch of sand near the river and do laps. Exercising in the sand reminded me of the way the Greeks would have had it in Olympia. The river has since risen over our Olympic sandbox.
The school is a young school, just a few years since it was built and the faculty are mostly around my age. They are being friendly to me even though I still can’t understand what they’re saying half the time, they just talk much faster and with a lot more slang than I’m used to.

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