I’m edging on my fifth week here in Mozambique, so I figured it was time to write a blog about my family.
I was adopted into a house of six people at the end of a tumultuous, dirt road. My Mae, Mariana, is married to Rui. Rui’s daughter, Nelia lives here with her two year old Kity, and then Mariana and Rui’s two kids, Delpha and Acurçio.
Kity is arguably my closest friend in the house. As a two and a half year old, her Portuguese skills are pretty close to mine. Her favorite phrases are vou fazer xixi, I’m about to pee (at this point I quickly get her off my lap and outside because she’s infamous in the house for her accidents). “Wow wow wow” is her second favorite thing to say, mostly as she gets into my room and sees anything of mine lying around. As a two-going-going-seventeen year old, Kity has gained a reputation as a bit of a malicious one, knowing exactly at what point she need to begin to scream and cry to get what she wants.
Acurcio. Acurcio is the man-of-the-house-in-training. Four going on five, he is a quiet hugger who’s most recent past-time includes hiding behind the curtain and screaming as loud as her can when I pass by. Most of the time, when Acurcio isn’t on his way to preschool, he can be found without pants and/or a shirt brincandoing around the neighborhood. He’s also got the be the most polite one of the three crianças, never asking for candy but alway happiest when he receives it.
Criança number three is Delpha, the oldest and thus the most responsible one. At seven years old, she’s in first grade, so our time is usually spent doing our homework together. Recently, Delpha has developed a bad habit of chewing on her pencils until they break in half, causing many Sunday night freak-outs of her teacher who will bater her if she doesn’t find one before class. Delpha is my finisher of snacks and my sous-chef when we make desert. She is also a big fan of com licensaing, (what seems to be a very Mozambican thing of knocking on a door endlessly until it is opened), only to ask if I might have a piece of candy for her.
Nelia is my twenty-four year old sister and mãe of Kity. Her hobbies include making me her personal photographer and introducing me to all of her maridos. Nelia knows how to do it all: cook, sing, dance, take care of the crianças, chug beer, put on lipstick, take some selfies, and make it to a bar (all during the same day). Nelia is both my partner in crime and my neighborhood gossip queen.
Pai is the intellect of the family. He comes home every night from his butcher shop with warm bread from the bakery to eat as we watch the nightly news. Pai thinks Trump is an idiot and hopes he won’t win the presidential elections and is a little bit confused that in the U.S. kitchens and bathrooms are not separate buildings, dis-attached from the main house. Pai translates the Portuguese vocab that I don’t know into English, and will work hard to convince me that not all myths about Mozambican life are real (for example, it is rumored that certain recipes come out bitter only if you’re a bad person.) Pai is constantly worried for my vegetarian friends and visibly disappointed when I don’t serve myself seconds of dinner.
Mae, is the sweetest mom around. Nelia and her spend weekends filling me in on the latest neighborhood drama, including (but not limited to) secret Peace Corps relationships and which neighbor has an ugly capulana. Mãe, like all moms, has a sixth sense to her. She’s quickly picked up on what I love, and now that I’ve taught her how to make grilled cheese, we have an endless supply of Kraft-like singles in the freezer. Mae’s stresses include the fact that I don’t eat “enough” rice, I sometimes try to secretly skip one of my two bucket baths a day, and that the Peace Corps staff might find out that my room is not clinically clean.