Saturdays in Mozambique are a big change from my DC Saturdays. Spending half an hour in a group chat comparing brunch menus has been replaced by a (later than usual) wake-up at 7:30, usually to a Katy Perry/Justin Beiber soundtrack played by the neighbors, harmonized by the crows of e v e r y single rooster in town.
My host mom has made it very clear that she is worried that I won’t survive on my own once I get to my site, and she doesn’t want me to have to pay for an empragado, cleaning lady, if I don’t have to. (I, on the other hand, never said anything about not wanting a cleaning lady). This being said, it means that Mae and Nelia, my older sister, are putting me through (Mozambican)-housewife-in-training 101.
We start by washing last night’s dishes… by hand.
Then we mop my bedroom… without a mop…. by hand.
The bathroom… without a mop…. by hand.
And the living room… again, without a mop…. by hand.
After that comes the time to wash the clothes, (you guessed it, by hand) this is accomplished by dragging water out of the water tank, then putting it in three to four different buckets, using two different soaps, and scrubbing, wringing, scrubbing some more, wringing, and then hanging.
Somewhere in between this, my host mom managed to rake the leaves/trash out of the front of the house, before making breakfast a few hours later.
Unlike with Saturday brunches, in Mozambique, the day doesn’t end at breakfast. Post breakfast, we took a trip to the market, to buy what we needed for lunch and dinner. And then we spent the rest of the day cooking.
I’m starting to realize, at least in the older generation, that the women’s place here is in the kitchen. I haven’t been able to calculate exactly how much time my mae and oldest sister spend in the kitchen, but my guesses estimate at least four hours a day. This is a far stretch from the 66 minutes the average person in the U.S. spends making food. On the other hand, this makes sense, since the take out options are non-existent and everything here is made from scratch, starting from bleaching and washing produce with water that is pulled out of a backyard well.
By the end of the Saturday, I keep thinking something I’d never thought I’d say, but it’s almost a relief that the weekend chores are over and the school week are just around the corner. On the bright side, Mozambican Saturdays are also a much better work out than any day I’ve spent in the U.S. (but that could very much be a personal issue).