Tuesday, June 29, 2010

songs from the kitchen

We love our kitchen staff! I think I have already mentioned that we know it is dinner time when the kitchen staff sings. I have been bugging Magdalena, one of our master chefs, to teach us one of these songs and today after lunch we got to learn one! It is in Portuguese and Makua (the language spoken in Nampula) and even has motions! One person sings the main part and everyone repeats after them. Here is the Portuguese section:

vamos fazer assim

quando vamos aos ceus

quando se encontra com o Senhor

quando se encontra com irmaos.

The translation is basically:

we’re gonna do like this

when we get to heaven (wave your hands in the air)

when we meet the Lord (clap your hands down low)

when we meet our brothers (give the person next to you a high ten!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

one size fits all

Our favorite cultural tid bit that we’ve adopted as our own has by far been the capulana. It’s a piece of cloth that can be used for basically anything. It’s most common uses are clothing, especially skirts, and baby slings, although it is also quite handy as a head wrap, bag, sheet, tablecloth, hot pad, rag, blanket, diaper….you get the idea. They come in all sorts of patterns and if you’re really hip then you would even by them for elections and specific holidays such as the upcoming “Dia 25 de Junho” capulana for Independence Day or for Christmas.

It’s such a big part of the culture here—they’re EVERYWHERE! Even before we got off the plane I read an article about the significance of the capulana and how they can even be a euphemism for chastity. Mothers instruct their daughters to “tie their capulanas well” or if a woman is kind of loose you can say that “she doesn’t know how to tie her capulana.”

Quite useful, quite fun, and one way we can partake in the life of the Mozambican.

*Photo also by Tim.

the bucket bath

This is a photo of the best shower in all Mozambique. (oooo, aaaaah!) Hot water flows abundantly from that shower head, can ya believe it!? This was at the Shrums house when I was staying in Milange. Unfortunately, the water was off six of the eight days I was there. The showers I did get to take there were wonderful. Otherwise, when the water was off and while I’m here at the center in Nampula I am cleansed by the good ole bucket bath. I heat up some water on the stove and pour it into a bucket (like the green one in the picture) and use a smaller pitcher to scoop up the water. It works quite well and provides hot showers!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

dinner and a chapa

Welcome to the public transportation of Mozambique—the chapa. This is a mini-bus that in the states would fit 15 people tops. I think the record for the most passengers for anyone on our trip so far is 22 people, 2 kids, and a chicken. The crew of the chapa is made up of a driver and the doorman. The doorman really holds the chapa together—literally. His duties include signaling the driver to stop (normally by banging on the roof), opening the door, shuffling the people into whatever space there is (seat or not), slamming the door shut (usually while the car is already in motion), collecting the cash, and occasionally holding on the door on. There are no official stops, you just flag ‘em down when you want on and yell ‘Saida!’ when you want off. The great part about the chapa is that you never have to wait, there are always chapas rolling by. The bad part is that you might have to get friendly with the person sitting next to you. It’s quite the adventure!

*Credit for prime picture taking goes to Mr. Timothy Krug.

Saturday, June 19, 2010



This is a spectrogram of the Emihavani word for canoe.

Friday, June 18, 2010

tea time

I love the schedule here. It’s all about the tea breaks. We start at 8 and go until 10 when we break for tea. Normally there is tea and some Ricoffy coffee on hand to have with bread and jam. Lunch is between 12 and 2, but normally requires quite a bit of prep, so it’s not as luxurious as it sounds! Then we have another tea break around 3:30. I can see why the locals adopted this Portuguese tradition--so tasty!


We stayed in Milange for one week. While we were there we helped write up a phonological outline for the Emihavani/Malawi Lomwe language. It was so cool! The first three days we elicited and transcribed words to come up with a solid inventory we could analyze. Then we had just three days to run all of the cool linguistic programs I have newly installed on my computer and write everything up. The final product was 55 pages long and even included spectrograms for some funky words! I made the phone and phoneme charts and wrote the sections on ambiguous phones and loan word phonology. I feel like a real linguist!

This is the SIL office in Milange where the Shrums work on the Takwane project and where we did some of our work.

Maggie and I transcribing our little hearts out! Mihavani has quite a bit of retroflex and some fun prenasalization and labialization combinations. Even a little bit of breathy voice!

James, Supuni (Spooney), and Alfred, our three language consultants.

The last day Alfred held a “closing ceremony” of sorts for us to thank us for all of our work. It was really special to see how appreciative they were of having their language studied and written about. They even wrote us a poem in Mihavani (with a translation in English)! Our research was mainly to help them make orthography decisions. It was so cool to see someone deciding how to write their language for the first time!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

across the border

Today we took a short venture to Malawi for the Sunday market. It was quite fun! One of the guys got a haircut for 50 kwatcha (about 30 cents), which drew quite a crowd. At the peak there were 22 people crowded around the window of the barber shop besides us whiteys. I also got a great capulana, a Malawi original!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

my fair lady

The Friday night tradition at the Shrum’s house is pizza and a movie! We made delicious pizza (one with pepperoni and one with fresh pineapple) and then watched My Fair Lady! They were appalled that we linguistics majors had never seen it! Now I am officially deemed ready to graduate by the Shrum household.

Friday, June 11, 2010

baked oatmeal

I’ve recently stumbled upon a tasty breakfast treat! The Shrums made us delicious baked oatmeal for breakfast one morning and I stole the recipe. :) Here it is if you want to have a taste:

Combine: ½ cup oil, ½ cup sugar, 2 eggs

Add: 3 cups uncooked oatmeal, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup milk

Pour into greased 9x9 pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Serve with warm milk, sugar, and cinnamon.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

from nampula to milange

We got up around 2am on Monday to leave for Milange. The trip to the Zambezia province took us two days. The first day we rode in a tiny minibus to the city of Mocuba. It was quite an interesting ride—we all piled in to leave around 4am and they were blasting some Backstreet Boys! So strange. I think we heard three different versions of “I Got a Feeling." That night in Mocuba we stayed at an orphanage and got to have a little tour of some really cool education projects they're working on there.

The next day our plan to rent a bus was thwarted and the only transportation option left was the back of an open-air truck! That was quite the experience. I think the highest count of people was 27, plus a rooster or two. I have no idea how that many people with that much stuff fit in such a small space! Mozambicans have a way of staying put—they never need to stretch or more or adjust anything. I don’t know how they do it but they can jump on with all their stuff and a couple kids and sit for hours. We Americans get real figidity real fast. In the states we have the luxury of prioritizing comfort, but it's not that way here.

Maggie and I wore capulanas to keep the dusty road on the road and not on us!

This was the truck we came in. The whole trip took about six or seven hours.

Friday, June 4, 2010

sounds of mozambique

My first night in Mozambique my team stayed in Maputo and at about 2:00 in the morning both my roommate Carrie and I woke up. (I think I'm finally over the jet lag!) For the next couple of hours we both laid there under the mosquito tent covering our beds and tried to discern what could possibly be making the noise we were hearing. It was very rhythmic and electronic sounding, just a small little beep every other second or so, but it sounded like it moved throughout the house. We talked about it at breakfast the next morning and all of our team had heard it, but no one could figure out what it was, until Will (our fearless and wise meta-data-minded team leader) informed us that it was a bat! Or a "mocho." Now every night we fall asleep to the sometimes quiet and sometimes not so quiet (although by 9:00 we're too tired to care!) beeping of the mocho.

Another sound that we experience every day is the singing of the cooks! To summon us to each meal the Mozambicans sing and let us know that the food is ready. It's really fun! Singing seems to be really important here. The first night our host asked us if we wanted to sing a song before dinner and when we all looked around at each other very confused she informed us that it was unacceptable for any group of young people to not know how to sing! Since then we've been learning a short song or two each day in Portuguese and English.

In a nerdier, linguistics sense, over the past two days I've been learning all about the sounds of Mozambique! In our orientation we've been going over Bantu sound systems (Bantu is the language family in southern Africa) and just today I received the phonetic inventory of the language I'm going to be helping with in Milange! My team and I leave on Monday for this "vila."
Please be praying for safe travels (I'll right more about the crazy "chapas" later) and healthy, godly relationships. It's been great going off on all of these excursions into town and getting to know both my team and the people here. I'm looking forward to more!