Hello, lovely readers,
Thanks for the comments and support on my last post, oh-so long ago… or so it seems from where I’m sitting. The last two weeks have been an absolute blur and probably some of the most definitive of my (not-so-) young life. Attempting to transition out of one “chapter” in my life’s story and into the next has been exhilarating and exhausting, exciting and anxiety-inspiring, joyful and melancholy. But one reality remains:
Mozambique is over.
I might be back in the Moz sometime in the future–in fact, I expect to be. But that’s a big question mark, and I’ve been trying to live in the present moment as much as possible. And that’s been made easier by the total WHIRLWIND that the last weeks have been! We’ve attended Mozambican birthday parties…
Hosted Mozambican colleagues over for a cultural exchange featuring us cooking them Mexican food (how American of us, right?) and then giving us the “sex talk” that the other women in their family give them as they come of age, to open our eyes to some of the crazy differences (Example advice given to many Mozambican women: “Buy the most expensive black tea in the market. Steep it in boiling water in a bucket. Sit in that bucket until the water gets cool. Your man will like this.” This advice may have ruined black tea for me forever.) Verdict on the Mexican food: They loved it, or at least they loved the taco seasoning that the meat was flavored with! Hooray for sodium. Bringing people together since 2010.
And the week before we left, my awesome-party-planner roommate organized a despedida (farewell) party with our colleagues in our compound, which was a great opportunity to say goodbye to many of the people who have been a big part of my experience here over the last two years.
My counterpart from work even came, right upon getting back from working in the field (far away in a rural village) all week! I’ll miss her.
The next night was Halloween, and we headed to a party in town which ended up being pretty heroically lame, especially depressing after last year’s utter awesomeness and because people from outside of Vil came in for a good time. We tried, at least, and the company was nice regardless. My roommate and Camille and I went as Greek goddesses. I chose Aphrodite pretty much so I could wear about two pounds of a creepy black satin bedsheet purchased for two dollars in my market.
Post-Halloween headaches were nursed the next day as five of us ventured out to the Ilha de Bazaruto, or Bazaruto Island, the largest and most populated of the islands in the archipelago of the same name. Two people had never been to the islands before and it was another amazing chance to snorkel two-mile reef and feel like you’re in Finding Nemo. There’s really no better way to describe it. We saw dolphins jumping around the boat on our way out, got a chance to hike the magnificent sand dune, saw stingrays and starfish and a ton of other creatures, and made the most of the day.
Next time I make my way back to Mozambique I will hopefully have a paycheck, and I am definitely staying a night on the islands. If I can track down the $800 or so per night a few of the lodges charge… never going to happen. Accept it now.
Last week was a blur of cleaning, packing, and goodbyes. Before I knew it, it was Saturday morning, the bags were packed, the house was bare and it was time to say tchau to the home I’d known for the last two years.
Amidst goodbyes, tears, dog kisses, and hugs, my roommate and I caught the bus to Maputo, to close out our Peace Corps experience (Close of Service) and head out of Mozambique. We were lucky that several of our closest friends were in Maputo COSing with us, which made it a very communal and enjoyable process instead of the stress-fest I had expected.
Maputo’s normal culinary delights–grocery shopping for imported products and eating at “nice” (it’s all relative) restaurants held very little excitement for us this time as we were all heading out to civilization, but we still had a great time, with multiple visits to Cafe Sol (the American-owned, real-coffee-serving Cafe that offers a rare luxury on the menu, bagels) and finally tried the pastel de guardanapo (napkin cake).
Normally the Thai restaurants (specifically Xhova Inter-Thai) are my favorite, but those held little pull for me as a week and a half from now I will be in Thailand, but it was fun to discover only today that Spicy Thai has an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, which a group of us lingered over for a solid two hours. Success.
Another thing I discovered for the first time today: A RUNNING TRACK! SO CLOSE to the hotel I’ve stayed at TONS of times. Are. You. Serious. How did I not know about this?! I got to check my mile time and run some 200s and 400s and marvel at what a slowpoke I am. And to think I could’ve been marveling all year! Tragic.
The majestic Polana Serena Hotel just finally finished its long rehabilitation and it was something I had to see before I left. We headed down for a drink and I was amazed at how pretty it was!
Margaritas are my favorite cocktail and this is the only one I’ve had since the Atlanta airport the first week of January before I boarded my transatlantic flight… not worth the price, but still, a sign of things to come.
The last few days have just been all about making the most of the last few hours with friends, good friends, friends with whom we have shared this incredible and CRAZY experience and for that we will always have a bond.
In line with the “This Is The Last Week And We Should Do Absolutely Everything We Have Ever Wanted To” mentality, I had the most expensive dinner of the last two-plus years (hell, maybe even several years!) at a Brazilian place, but that’s another post.
Emotions range. I think right now I am exhausted from all of the feelings and anxieties and excitements and all sorts of other things flooding my mind. It’s made me tired and stressed and I don’t know if I have really processed that this chapter is ending. I think that there’s going to be a lot in the future to reflect on but right now all I know is this: It has been wonderful, but it’s time to go. Many great experiences and stages of life have a shelf life: they’re good for a time, but then it’s time for something new. I have loved living in Mozambique, and I’m sure it will take me a long time to recognize all of the things that it has given me, and to realize how much I am going to miss about life here. I am sure in the future, perhaps not-so-distant, there will be novels to write about that. But right now, I’m such a mix of every possible feeling that they all sort of cancel each other out and leave me with only one discernible conviction:
It’s been wonderful, but it’s time to let go.
As a blogger and “blend” (blog friend), you’ll have to forgive me over the next month and a half. I hope to post at least once a week if not more often, but my internet access and time and ability to upload photos may be limited. I know I’ll have tons of time and internet once I am back stateside to update y’all, but over the next handful of weeks, you might not be hearing from me as much. Because I am leaving in about five hours to South Africa, where we will rent a car and head to Lesotho for pony-trekking, before flying to Cairo and then onto Thailand. I’ll be in seven countries in the next five weeks–suffice it to say, I might be busy.
I have no idea where I’m REALLY going, or what I’m REALLY going to be doing. But that’s the beauty of it. I’m just GOING. And it is going to be awesome. Maybe I can say tomorrow as I cross that border, a chapter ends, a door closes… but another one opens… and I’m holding my head high and marching through it. Good-bye, Mozambique. Thanks for everything you have done for me. May we soon meet again.
Until then, peace.
Have you “started over” in any areas of your life recently? How’d you do it?