Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Description of My 26 Months of Volunteer Service.
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I came home.
Photo by Emily Maule.

And, I surprised my family.
Photo by Emily Maule.

It had been 26 months since I stepped on US Soil.
Photo by Pamela Maule.

I am glad to be home and start another adventure.
Photo by Emily Maule.

As a final act of closing my United States Peace Corps service, I am ending After School Detention. It has been an incredible two and a half years and I see nothing more fitting than ending my post-undergrad blog with the final act of my Peace Corps experience, my Description of Service (DOS) report. The DOS is documentation of a volunteers service and I took on the requisite as a challenge to summarize a very personal and creative two years in a very personal and creative way. My DOS is not a traditional DOS, nevertheless, it is signed and sealed by Peace Corps Mozambique's Country Director, Ruben Hernandez, making it an official government document. I encourage everyone to download it and read the description in its entirety. I consider it my last work of art in Mozambique. To compare it to a traditional DOS click here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The President of the Municipality inaugurated our new murals.

Valdo took initiative and introduced our group.

Then, Valdo explained the elements of our murals.

He captivated the town official.

Books for the World sent us a big present.
Photo by Valdo Isaias.

The anticipation nearly killed my boys.

Finally, the pedagogical directors attempted to open the bags.

Then, the boys had to show them how to do it.

The kids uncloaked boxes.

Divided them up.

Then, carefully opened them.

Valdo, showing off the history of art.

English children's novels.

National Geographic Magazines for drawing references.

Felgos unwrapping thesauruses and dictionaries.

Books for the Fine Art Club of Massinga.

An English-Portuguese dictionary.

Thank you Books for the World!

The permanent home of the books.

To commemorate our mural, I had a plaque made.

Ginocio, Valdo, and Felgos.

The plaque.

Before I left Massinga, I got my hair did.
Photo by Valdo Isaias.

It was a pretty long process.
Photo by Valdo Isaias.

And, not the most pleasant.
Photo by Valdo Isaias.

My eye itched.
Photo by Valdo Isaias.

Photo by Valdo Isaias.

The final product.
Photo by Valdo Isaias.

Photo by Valdo Isaias.

For a post-Peace Corps experience, we went to Cape Town.
Photo by Laura Gamse.

I tried to make the synthesizer work.
Photo by Laura Gamse.

While Chase played the mandolin.

Then, I took out my braids.
Photo by Chase Nye.

The process took two days.
Photo by Chase Nye.

The crescent moon.
Photo by Chase Nye.

We found a camera that had a smile finder function.

Our smiles got found.

The end has come. I left Massinga at 4am on the 6th November, 2009, after an intense two weeks of tying up loose ends. The following Sunday, I said goodbye to my host-family in Namaacha. As I was walking down the familiar mountain, my host-father picked me up in his mini-van and drove me to meet my host-mother. I happened to come on a fitting day as my host-brother and -sister were in town as well. We said our farewells, exchanged gifts, and, as they left for Sunday Mass, I parted ways with my host-village.

The coming week, I prepared for departure as I closed my volunteer service with seven other volunteers. We spent the week finishing up our description of service reports, preparing resources for future volunteers, being evaluated, and meeting with our administration staff. The week was intense, as a Mozambican and US holiday during our COS week robbed us of two work days, however, we managed to work while the rest of the world rested and successfully completed our United States Peace Corps Volunteer Service.

After a week of work, Chase and I began our ten days of play. Our journey to Cape Town began on a Thursday evening as we were escorted to the Mozambique-South Africa boarder by Peace Corps Staff. From there we waited five hours for our bus with volunteers Jaime Mangan, Nia Chauvin, and Laura Parker as the sun set, rain fell, lightning struck, and, finally, darkness surrounded us. It was a terrifying fifteen minutes as we watched the South African street lights turn on and waited for Mozambiques electricity to return. Rain seemed appropriate as we arrived to Namaacha 26 months prior on a rainy day and left for our villages two months after that in torrential downpour, and 10pm couldn't have come sooner as our bus arrived and we were on a one-way trip to Johannesburg.

After a short flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Chase and I were picked up by our two Coach Surfer hostesses, Aurora and Laura, also known as Laurora. Immediately, we were assigned cinematographer duties and helped film a segment for Laura's upcoming documentary on South Africa musicians. That night we were treated to our first Cape Town braai, or South Africans barbecue, then went to a local bar Tagore's for live jazz. The Hilton Schilder Quartet performed with a stand-up bass, drums, piano, melodica, trumpet and Aurora's housemate on violin.

The next day we went to the Saturday Market in Woodstock where we had Nutella crepes and Bloody Marys, then went on a hike on Table Mountain. As the group pulled up their wool socks and laced up their hiking boots, they stared in awe as the Americans arrived with sandals and flip-flops. They were even more impressed when they saw the bearded, mad scientist picking out his braids and afro while he waited on top the mountain for them.

The evening after the light hike and climbing, Laura took us to a Catû Pub for live music from her friend Pete, followed by Mr. Cat and the Jackal, and a late performance by the self-prolific Gary Thomas.

On Sunday, we filmed a local singer-songwriter, Ongx, as he sang and wooed the curious children in the area, then we spent the evening at a book launching at a local bookstore where we watched artists and self-proclaimed intellectuals argue over semantics and appear to engender the very attitudes their books seeks to debunk. In the end, I had a long conversation with the charming star of the show, an old poet with a warm, entrancing personality who has attacked the political corruption and injustices in South Africa for the past 50 years. We discussed arts role in contemporary politics and in the end could not completely agree, though we were arguing for very parallel ideas.

The rest of the week we made our tourist run. We spent two warm days at the beach, explored the museums and art galleries for two days, and did two more hikes, which consisted of an exhausting nine hour hike to the peak of Table Mountain and a casual two hour hike to the top of Lion's Head Mountain. As we ran about town, we did plenty of fine dining and were enthralled by the Superette Cafe in Woodstock next to the WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery. It was so good we had to return there for breakfast the next day then drag our new friends in after just finishing our own meal.

On our last full day, Laura convinced Chase and me to go on an adventure. The adventure had to be done on motor-scooters which I was not terribly excited about. As Chase and Laura went out to search for scooters, I went to the train station to have my hair put in cornrows. Chase and Laura were a bit disappointed that they were only able to find two scooters. I, on the other hand, was not and rode on Chase's back for the journey. We arrived without a hitch in a little town call Kommetjie and ate at the Blue Water Cafe on Imhoff Farm. The food was amazing and after an incredibly satisfying meal, my adventure team convinced me to take the motor-reigns.

This was a huge mistake. After whipping about through the parking lot, I began to follow Chase down the streets. All it took to cause disaster was a lack of blinker use and a lack of turning ability and, after both, the scooter ended up on the side walk in a bush and I ended up with a torn sweatshirt and bloody knuckles. Luckily, nothing was seriously damaged other than my pride.

After an exciting day, we returned to Cape Town and took Laura and Aurora out for a last meal at Green Restaurant. They had been excellent hostesses and made our farewell journey both authentic and full of creative energy. The food was good and the laughter was great throughout the meal. It was a great way to end our last night in Africa.

Monday arrived and our 42 hour journey home began. We flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg, then Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi, UAE on Monday. After arriving in the United Arab Emirates, we waited for twelve hours before leaving for JFK airport on Tuesday morning. We arrived in New York late on Tuesday afternoon after a 17 hour flight. After our international flight, Chase and I reflected on our 26 months and then parted ways, as he went to Austin to his girlfriend, Jamie, while I went to Milwaukee to be picked up by my brother Sean.

I arrived in Milwaukee around 9:30pm then spent a half hour searching for Sean as he searched for me. The next morning, the love-of-his-life arrived as well and we all drove to Iron Mountain together. My mother was expecting the doves but she wasn't expecting the black sheep. The surprise nearly killed her and brought on tears and a chest pain that lasted her the night. The journey home was long but well worth it as I found myself back in the comfort of my parent's home and in the company of my family. It is good to be home.