I will open with this trenchant observation: don’t get too close to a pack of zebras. No matter how cute they may appear.
Happy Sunday everybody! It has been five days since I last posted due to extremely slow internet and a ton of Swazi pictures I have been trying to upload, without luck for many of them. I think I have about four posts worth of stuff so I am going to make this first post just a bunch of pictures from the nature reserve that I was staying in. The posts about my travels, eats, and adventures will come later… until then, you’re stuck with pictures of animals and trees : )
We were staying at a hostel/backpackers located right in Milwane Nature Reserve, which is a protected park. Every day I took the opportunity to go for a walk or go running through the surrounding areas and just be blown away by the beauty surrounding me in every direction! And the QUIET. I think we often do not have enough real “quiet” in our lives, there’s always SOMETHING. And in Milwane, I got to breathe, listen to the sounds of nature, the monkeys calling, the birds chirping. It was really wonderful.
I saw a ton of animals including impala, springbok, zebras, warthogs, monkeys, and a variety of other species I couldn’t name! Unfortunately there aren’t lions or giraffes in the park where I was, but perhaps that was better, seeing as I was out running alone in the middle of nowhere at 6AM, which is not the ideal time to bump into a lion in its natural habitat. Next time…
I think that these runs may have been the best that I have ever been on. Definitely not from an exercise point of view, seeing as I was going at a snail’s pace attempting to take in the world around me slash stopping every three minutes to take a picture of something. But that was what I needed to do here. I am in Swaziland for the weekend, for goodness’ sake, and I am going running through a nature park. THIS. IS. AWESOME. (I am pretty sure that was what I was repeating to myself the entire time.)
I don’t know if I can ever go back to a zoo after living here. (Okay, that’s probably a lie… the San Diego ZOO and wild animal park are pretty sweet.) But it’s funny how normal it is to see these animals on the road in front of me (that warthog in a picture below got in the way when I was running and we stopped and stared at each other for a few long minutes. Kind of cute if you stare at it for a while… a LONG while…) and I cannot imagine how weird and wrong it would feel to see them in captivity again. But I digress.
I loved this sign too. Wildlife has the right of way! AMEN. In Africa most places (okay, well at least in Mozambique), people don’t even have the right of way. Ever. I do not know how many times I have nearly been killed by cars. And I could mention how often this does indeed happen, but this post does not feel like the appropriate time or place. Anyway, this reserve was definitely a welcome respite from the day to day hectic-ness (is there a word??) of life in cities. I could probably stay in a hut here for a few weeks and be utterly content.
I don’t know if you can tell what this creature is on the fence, but it is indeed a monkey. These are actually one of the few interesting creatures I have run into in Moz, so while this sighting was not anything super out of the ordinary, it was really fun to watch these two monkeys fight over some nonexistent object. really reminded me of young children bickering. I kind of love monkeys… from a safe distance and not in my house. Although if one did indeed turn up in my house, that would make for a pretty great blog post.
I really fell in love with Swaziland over this weekend. If anyone is planning a trip to Southern Africa (South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana…) a stop in Swaziland is a must! It is a seemingly random country, tiny and tucked in between several more notable nations, and known for things like a king who continually adds new wives to his harem and one of the highest rates of HIV in the world (at one time the highest). But it is much more than that…. it is a country full of charm, tradition, and kindness. The people were so friendly, many people are educated and most speak English (the most commonly spoken language is SiSwati, the native tongue, but being a British colony, English is the other official language). The transport is easy, the roads are nice, and you can get real products at the stores. It is civilization! Although that kind of becomes a joke for those of us who live in Mozambique, because “civilization” apparently refers to anywhere BUT Mozambique. A sad joke, but the reality is that Mozambique is significantly less than developed than its surrounding neighbors, meaning that simply crossing over the border and stepping onto a bus or into a store can actually be a bit of a culture shock.
Today is June 6th. Well into the month of June, and most bloggers would admit that they had missed the opportunity to do any requisite musings on the end of one month and the beginning of another. But I declare that the rules do not apply to me so need to take a second here to do do.
One of the first “real” posts I made here on P&P was A New Month, setting some goals for the month of May. I think it was at this moment that I started really commenting on other blogs and trying to become a part of the blog community, so in a way, this is my one month anniversary of being a real blogger. : ) Okay I totally do not feel like a real blogger yet, but hopefully I will get there some day.
Anyway, I decided to make several goals for the month of May and post them on the blog to make myself accountable–really just to myself because at the time I did not believe that anyone would actually ever be reading this, but accountable just the same. So I think my conscience demands at least looking back for a moment to see how I did on my goals or what I said I was planning to do…
So what were the things I said I would do every day?
Floss every day: MAJOR FAIL. Sorry if that is TMI… but this was my most important goal really, because it needs to be a “life change,” but I didn’t do so well. I vow again to make this a daily part of my routine!
Blogging, ten posts: check! I actually did pretty well with posting this month, much better than I expected, and I loved all the comments and feedback I got from you guys! THANKS! June is setting up to be a blogger fail, but you make the most of what you are working with, I suppose. Out of country Africa backpacker blogging can be a bit of a challenge…
Running, ten times: check. I did my runs and I succeeded with a couple of long ones over two hours. Holla! Must continue to make running a well integrated part of my life. I think *fingers crossed* that I have finally trained through my runner’s knee but, as always, that remains to be seen. Here’s hoping!
Trainings at work: check! I finally posted about what I do normally at my job here in Moz, and as I states in my goals, I was able to execute, working in collaboration with colleagues, three different trainings, culminating in a training of Agentes de Mudanca (agents of social change) in which we “capacitized” people who are notable leaders in their communities to speak out on issues of gender equality, women’s empowerment, strengthening the family economy, and being knowledgeable about rights in regards to inheritances and family laws. It was really cool and I cannot wait to see what kind of lasting change we see in their communities! Again, here’s hoping!
Food/baking: I did do a few fun baking experiments this month, but didn’t get my English muffins baked. BOO. It was a bit hard because I had visitors OR was working every weekend which made “Weekend Baking” a bit more difficult than expected. But that’s okay! Plenty of time!
Grad school list: check. Kind of. I am definitely applying to graduate school in the fall (well, it’s the spring for me) and I think I know more or less where I am going to apply to now. Sucessos! Now I need to get started on the REAL work… but I have a few months, so it should be plenty of time.
And lastly, I DID manage to fight my way through Great Expectations (check!) but I think I belaboured it for so long that I didn’t really enjoy it to the extent that I should have… I will file it away under the “reread” category. One chapter left of Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. That counts, right? I both love Dave Eggers and want to throttle him. Next book I think will be American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.
So overall I think I did pretty well. But definitely room for improvement.
June is shaping up to be a really crazy month as I did originally expect. Coming back from Swaziland, med stuff in Maputo, catch-up at work. Next week is my only real full week of work this month and I am taking Wednesday off because it is my BIRTHDAY! I am turning 24 and am going to make it MY day. This is one of my mom’s traditions and one I would like to start as well…. I worked on my birthday last year and the whole time I was thinking, “WHY. AM. I. HERE.” I mean, I know it is a bit entitled and optimistic to think that I am never going to work on my birthday EVER, but if you can take it off and enjoy it however YOU want to, why the heck not? I am very much looking forward to Wednesday. No parties, no hoopla, no nothing. Probably just a nice run, some pancakes, a lunch out at a restaurant in town and some time spent contemplating my life and what I want my 24th year to look like. And while that may be boring, it is all I need right now.
After that, I leave around the 15th to Cape Town (three days of overland travel there–yay!) for the flipping WORLD CUP. I still can NOT believe I am going! I am trying to decide if I should try to blog from there or not. I think it would be a great opportunity to be blogging from there, to be able to update friends and family and readers about the craziness and amazingness that the trip will surely be. But, I also don’t want to be in South Africa (dangerous) worrying about losing my laptop (quite possible) or spending hours on the internet when, come on, I’m at the world cup! So that is on my mind right now. Even going to Swazi for a long weekend, I was off the internet for bout six days and of course I am STILL not caught up yet (and I don’t even want to talk about my google reader)! But… blogs and emails are always going to be there so I think I might have to peace out from the interwebs for some time while I am living it up in South Africa. Once in a lifetime opportunity! CAN’T. WAIT. I cannot even imagine how much fun I am going to have…
With all that being said, my June goal is to GET OVER IT. Okay, that sounds a bit silly. But in May, I found myself really bogged down and stressed out, for a number of different reasons, and nothing that really merits a discussion here. But I noticed myself being stressed out, anxious, emotional, and it manifesting itself in negative ways–overeating, harping on unimportant things, negative trains of thought and outlooks towards life. This isn’t me. I know this. So why have I let myself get caught up in that downward spiral?
Some things are not important.
I have gotten off track. Way too much of my time in the last few weeks has been spent thinking about unimportant and negative things. I cannot get that time back, but I can choose to turn it around. Being here is such a mind game sometimes, just getting from one day to the next. It is so easy to think about what I am missing out on THERE, which makes me miss the beauty that I have HERE. I do love Mozambique and my experience, and sometimes it feels like you need to be all warm-fuzzy about things because people are saying things like “you’re so brave” and “I could never do that” and other things that I do not believe at all, but yet it feels like you have to live up to some ideal, some silent suffering. But there is no glory in that and life, no matter where we are in the world or where we are in our lives, is hard sometimes! That is reality and there is no reason to hide from it. But rather, I just need to re evaluate how I REACT to it, and get back on track with the person I know myself to be: positive, full of life and excited for the day ahead.
June, I’m not worrying about stress or uncertainty or unanswered questions or five extra pounds. I’m just living. I am living in every moment, being more aware of the world around me, waking up wondering how I can make the world a better place for others to be in. I need to get back to where I belong. Everything changes now. : )
No measurable goals, no pressure on myself or on anybody else. Just being. Just existing, figuring out more about who I am and what it is that I want, what I am searching for. And a whole lot of fun along the way. Once again… here’s hoping.
Choose hope… always choose hope! If I learn one thing in my life, I hope that that would be it.
Now I will leave you with some more pretty pictures from Swaziland. Happy Sunday, everybody!!!
Question: Have you ever felt yourself getting “off track” in some area of your life? How did you realize it? What do you do to turn it around?