Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

I have two new men in my life!

Their names are Julius Nyerere and Eduardo Mondlane. The relationship began with tentative uncertainty, but after careful consideration, I have fallen captive to their charms and decided to move in.

Just in case, some of you are beginning to think that I am crazy, these are not two real men. They are the names of the streets that intersect at my new apartment building! I am a soon-to-be lessee of a three bedroom apartment on the seventh floor. The building sits on Avenida Eduardo Mondlane, about a half block away from one of the main streets in Maputo, Avenida Julius Nyerere in the neighborhood of Polana. Now I will be steps away from many of the restaurants, cafes, markets and other places that I need to take a cab to now.

The precise move-in date has not been set yet, but the sooner it is, the better. I never thought that I would miss the capability to cook for myself. Eating out all of the time is not the most nutritious, convenient or affordable way to live. Besides that fact, I very much want to stop living out of my suitcase. I always feel that I am getting ready to go somewhere rather than trying to live here. Now that I will have a place of my own, I can actually see what I have to wear in the morning. It also means that I can go grocery shopping!

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Should I have brought my little red book?

One of my less endearing and more frustrating qualities is my poor sense of direction. Ever since I arrived in Maputo, I have been looking high and low for a compact map of the city to carry. Because the city sits on a peninsula, I can not use the water as a reference point. This city does not have the convenient grid system of Washington DC. I have started to carry around my copy of the Lonely Planet guide for Mozambique that I bought before I left the States. However, pulling that out in public screams tourist. Which of course I want to avoid.

So, instead I have been going on increasingly long walks to get a better feel for the location of things in the city. On Sunday, I decided to walk out of the baixa. I left the hotel and began walking up the cross street. The cross street of course named Avenida Karl Marx. I tried to head to the National Art Museum, but it was closed much like the rest of the city on a Sunday. So I continued my stroll, passing by the cathedral. I made a right onto Avenida Ho Chi Minh. I decided to head back to the baixa for lunch so I turned down the street next to the cathedral. This street was called Avenida Vladimir Lenine.

Two days ago, I went apartment hunting for the second time. The building was on the corner of Av. 24 de julho and Av. Salvador Allende. I saw a parade of protesters today objecting to the status of Mozambican workers in Germany. The cafe where I ate dinner tonight was at the corner of Av. Mao Tse Tung and Av. Kim Il Sung. I looked at the map in my book later and saw the only one that I am missing is Av. Friedrich Engels. (Although, who remembers that he was a coauthor of the Communist Manifesto anyway?)

I have seen some cities with interesting street names. Most of the main streets in Salvador were named after important dates in the fight for independence and the others featured the names of prominent figures. I wasn’t expecting to see the Communist Hall of Fame on every street corner. It is funny to see the vestiges of Mozambique’s previous affiliation with the USSR so prominently displayed. Things obviously changed a great deal after the civil war broke out, with the final establishment of its multi party system in 1990. The practice would be analogous to the United States having streets like King George the III Boulevard and Articles of Confederation Avenue. Maybe Mozambicans have a different way of remembering their past. Or maybe they just didn’t want to spring for all new street signs.

To get work takes work

Today was one of those days filled with 30 minute breaks. Busy enough, but not enough time to commit to completing a single activity. I needed to move hotels because the Ibis was at capacity for the week. Now I am at Hotel Africa I. Apartment searching has been hit or miss. There are plenty of apartments here. It is just difficult to find one that that doesn’t engage in price gouging simply because you are an expat. One piece of good news is that I have found a roommate who just moved here as well from Washington DC. We are going apartment hunting tomorrow. Fingers crossed, we will see something good! In any case, today was not about apartments, but about jobs.

I know that it is my fault, but I scheduled the move and these two meetings close together. I thought that I would be doing myself a favor by trying to leave some time at the end for apartment searching. However, being in a strange city where you have no map, no sense of direction and still improving language skills does not allow you to move in an efficient manner.

I had meetings at CDC’s Global AIDS Program and Columbia University’s ICAP, the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs. Both organizations are involved in PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. It was interested to hear from CDC in its new role in administering funding for the initiative and hear about the work that ICAP is doing as a recipient of funds under PEPFAR. Both were wonderful for learning about experiences with working in Mozambique. They both provided me with great advice and information about work that I can do here. Opportunities with CDC are more technical in nature, related to research and evaluation of programming under PEPFAR. ICAP has an expansive program related to antiretroviral therapy, with numerous aspects for me to contribute to. I still have more meetings this week with organizations.

Today has reminded me despite the logistics involved in coming here and the daily frustrations that I experience for various reasons that I am extremely excited for the potential that I have to make a substantial and lasting impact on the lives of people here.

My very first post

I have finally got a slightly more constant connection to the Internet. Of course, since it is through the hotel that I am staying at now and I am leaving it tomorrow, it actually isn’t that constant. I had initially planned to write something more descriptive and possibly even profound but I think that can wait for another day. For now, the title of this blog succinctly summarizes my life right now. I am on the brink of finding both a permanent job and apartment, with both hopefully confirmed by the end of the week. More details to come later…