A hairy situation...


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Africa » Mozambique » Northern » Pemba
January 18th 2008
Published: January 18th 2008
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A bunch of idiotsA bunch of idiotsA bunch of idiots

All the guys who decided to shave their hair into a mohawk style for swearing in. I guess since I am in front, I am the head idiot
So I know it had been a while since I last wrote, and maybe the one or two of you who read this are a little curious to know what the hell has been happening to me over the last month. I will get to that, but first, I want to tell you all a story of courage, bravery, and a person succeeding despite bumbs in the road, and against all odds.
So, if you have skipped ahead to look at my pictures in true 1st grader fashion, you will already know that I shaved my hair into a mohawk style for our swearing in ceremony on December 7. I did it and a bunch of other guys did it as well. Make comments if you wish about it being a bit immature and something maybe typical of a high school football team, but let me ask you this. Am I immature for shaving my hair like that, or are you immature for judging me by my hairstyle? Ask yourself that. Anyway, I did it, and although I certainly did look like a jackass, I figured it wouldn't be a big deal because I would just go home that night and shave off that middle part and look normal again, or as I usually do, I should say. Since appliances often blow up here because of unstability of Mozambican electricity, I had been using a stabilizer of sorts all throughout training whenever I shaved my head. Unfortuanately, the stabilizer that I was using belonged to another girl, who left to go to her site before I could cut my hair using her stabilizer. So the mohawk remained. no big deal. I figured I would just buy one of my own once I arrived to my site and I would sport the mohawk for 5 days at the most. I had a hat. I wasn't worried. Well, I did buy a stabilizer, I brought it two my house, prepared for the royal shaving, plugged in my razor....and it didn't work. It turns out that I needed an outlet strips that fit American appliences as well. I could plug my razor into that, plug that into the stabilizer, and then it would work. No big deal. I still had a hat. I just figured that next time I went to the big city I would buy this, and all would be good. Well,
More idiots with mohawksMore idiots with mohawksMore idiots with mohawks

There was something special under my Christmas tree this year
I did make that trip, but on the way, I had my travel pouch stolen, which included, among other things, all my remaining physical money, my bank card, and my passport. No money. No access to money. No passport. No shaving. Over the next few weeks, I spent quite a bit of time figuring out my money situation, my bank card situation, and my passport situation, which actually was returned to another Peace Corps volunteer, but was not handed over without a 500 metacais (Mozambican currency) bribe. No big deal. I still had my hat. Long story short, I ended up getting a bank card and enough money to buy this relatively cheap outlet strip to cut my hair. Great. I took it home and plugged it in and began the cutting. Short after some of the bair began to fall, I noticed that the razor was becoming quite hot. Just as I was about to turn it off, the thing basically exploded, complete with smoke and everything. So there I was. Exploded razor in one hand, exploded outlet strip at my feet, and a head, with approximately 1/6 of the hair gone. Needless to say, still having my hat
My familyMy familyMy family

Saying goodbye to my host family
was no consulation. I slept this way, fearing that I would have to go on looking like this for the rest of my life. The next morning I tried again, since I had brought a backup razor for just this sort of situation. I figured I would shave for 20 seconds at a time and then turn it off whenever it became hot. The first sign that things were headed in a good direction was that I realized that the outlet stip still worked, it was just that my stabilizer had blown a fuse. I replaced the fuse and it worked. Then, I plugged the outlet strip into the 110v side rather than the 220v side, which turned out had been my only mistake the day before, plugging the strip into the 220v side. Since American applicanes run at 110v, it is not wonder it exploded. This time, things worked to perfection, and here I am today, doing my best imitation of a normal human being.

So this was pretty traumatic, but I got over it. So I am now living alone in my new community, which is located near the capital city of the Zambezia province, Quelimane. I
The first supperThe first supperThe first supper

A pan and a package of spaghetti. And some water. What more could I have wanted for my first dinner in my new house?
have a small cement house all to myself, along with a luxurious outhouse where i pee and defacate, and also take bucket baths. The community is just what I wanted as far as size, not too big, not too small. I have electricity, can buy many things here, and whatever I can't buy, Quelimane is not far away. My house is pretty empty right now, but I am building and inventing things to fill the space. Some are original ideas, some I have stolen from another volunteer. The first thing I added to my house was shades to the windows, and plastic bottles to the walls to hold the shades when I want them open. The reason this was first on my priority list was because the first morning in my house after having slept there the night before, my next door neighbor stuck his head into my bedroom window at 6:00 a.m., to tell me that he was going to Quelimane. I thanked him for the information, got up and wrote "make shades" on my to do list, and then went back to bed. I have actually quite enjoyed this part of my time here. I never tried making
There it isThere it isThere it is

The finished product
things like this back in the states, but here I do, and it feels good to have a personal investment of time and effort into my house.

Quickly, I would like to share two things that I have done here over the last month that I think everyone at home should try. First, my neighbors invited me over to watch a movie, which was of course in english with only Portuguese subtitles. All movies here are like this since the Mozambican film industry has not exactly taken off yet. Anyway, I figured it would be a karate movie like all the other movies here, but it was so much more. "Delta Forces 3: The Killing Game". The title kind of says it all. This is a movie about a bunch of American heros who spend the entire movie killing people with dark skin and I think are supposed to be from the Middle East somewhere. Basically, the Middle Easterners are horrible killers, and the brave Americans must stop them in order to save the world. Was George Bush the producer of this movie? I don't know. Anyway, I challenge anyone out there with enough guts, to try watching this
DinnerDinnerDinner

Yes, that is a combination of ketchup, spaghetti, and cornflakes.
whole movie with throwing up because it is so ridiculous. Worst movie I have ever seen. No question about it.
Secondly...the week before we left to site, we had many meetings with the Peace Corps medical officer since we were going to places far away and would not have immediate medical access from Peace Corps. They were giving us last minute tips on how to stay healthy and what types of things to watch out for. During one session, they passed around a book called "The Color Atlas and Synopsys of Clinical Dermatology: Common and Serious Diseases". After flipping through a few pages of this, I thought of a fun game that everyone at home should try. Get together a group of friends, and have each person start at the beginning of this book and begin turning the pages and looking at every single picture. Similar to the Delta Forces 3, keep track of what page each person can get to before they vomit. Whoever gets the farthest is the winner.

Work has started, and it has been interesting. I have met all the Activistas that I will be working with and I am receiving a tour everyday of
1st invention1st invention1st invention

A plastic bottle makes a good curtain holder
the neighborhoods that they are living in. I saw first hand the other day what the value of these activistas can be. Going through one of our tours, we came to the house of a woman who was too weak to eat, or sit up on her own. Her son was not around, and her neighbors assisted only in daily activities, like eating and going to the bathroom. No one thought to bring her to the hospital. The activistas saw this, and because I was there, a car from our organization was near-by, so the car came and we took this woman to the hospital to have tests done. This is the way this is supposed to work. The activistas link the community to me, I link them to my organization, my organization can link me to the hospital. My role here is to improve the system already in place, and I do have some ideas, but it is good to know that much good is being done here already.

Other than that, I am just taking it one day at a time. I have got back into running since the soccer fields here is too poor to play
2nd invention2nd invention2nd invention

A shoerack made from bamboo and sticks. I'm sort of like McGuyver
on, and I am listening to a lot of music. I appreciate the e-mails I have gotten and the letters that I was receiving before I arrived here. That was my shameless segue into giving out my mailing address, which is actually nowhere near my home address, so do not worry about someone coming to do me in now. Here it is:
Jimmy Schneidewind, PCV
Ave. 1a De Setembro
Bairro Prace Bonga, No 24
Quelimane, Mocambique

Although I couldn't do it right, the "a" after the 1 and the "0" after the N on the third line are supposed to be exponents with underlines. So there it is. Goodbye.



Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


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3rd invention3rd invention
3rd invention

A sink made from a large oil tub, some rubber bands and part of a leather wallet, and a faucet, of course
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Look if you can

A front shot
Another inventionAnother invention
Another invention

coconut shells as candle holders in my bathroom
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a side shot
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One more...

just so you grasp how hairy I really was
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from up top
last one...last one...
last one...

a view from the goodyear blimp
Christmas...Christmas...
Christmas...

on the floor of my new bedroom
Receiving a danceReceiving a dance
Receiving a dance

this was in Maputo during my first 3 days in Mozambique. I am the one lying down, face up, looking at God smiling down on me
YupYup
Yup

my secondary project is teaching americans to dance. Also during my first week in the 'Bique
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I was busying during that first week
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I...

sort of look like a sweaty stalker in this picture. If the shoe fits...


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