365 Days and Counting

I have officially been in Mozambique for 1 full year. 365 days abroad. 

I don’t quite know how to express what this mark in time means. Part of me feels as if I just got here and I’m still trying to figure out how basic things work. Where do I catch the bus? How much is that supposed to cost? How do I say “embarrassed” in Portuguese?  Simultaneously I feel like this is my home and I have been here for years. I am faltering as to how to describe this duality. Maybe someone out there can help me better describe this feeling? 

I’m also in the midst of transition, not so much for myself but as a voyeur for the comings and goings of the people around me. Eve and David have left for Canada for six months on maternity leave. My Peace Corps girls officially have a month before they start their journeys home to America. Of course, a new boss will be filling in temporarily and other volunteers will move in next door. Strangely I will now be the go-to girl for bills and decisions for our neighborhood compound. How exactly did I end up being the one who has been here the longest after just one year?

*  *  *

Anyway, the big one-year anniversary offers a good opportunity to reflect on some of the things I have seen and learned in the last 12 months. 

OVER THE LAST YEAR I HAVE…

Received twelve packages filled with letters, food, chocolate, journals, music, coffee, an entire 4th of July picnic among other treats

Observed eleven full moons since I arrived

Been proposed to by ten total strangers (none motivated by true love)

Spent nine days snorkeling out at the islands 

Made at least eight friends here. Not just acquaintances but people with whom I enjoy their company, conversation and would feel comfortable asking for help and advise if ever I’m in a pickle 

Found seven new vendors for our baskets

Had six friends and family members visit

Gained a new family member; my nephew is now five months old

 Traveled in four countries; Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana & South Africa

Become the shared owner of three pets; two dogs and 1 cat

Swum with whale sharks two times

Learned to speak (more or less) one new language

Of course there are other things that ought to go on the list, such as learning the value of clear communication and leadership or the feeling of entering an empty house after friends and family have left, but those are complicated and make for much harder situations to watercolor.  I am still enjoying my job with CARE International and look forward to days spent in the field with our weavers. Even with logistical frustrations and communication failures, I continue to feel positive and optimistic about the potential and sustainability of the project. 

I didn’t get a chance to discuss whole chunks of life, from witnessing faulty presidential elections to watching World Cup madness in neighboring South Africa. It’s never easy to sum up a whole year, and I’m sure I will never fully be able to explain the nuances of my everyday existence abroad but I guess this blog has been (and will continue to be) my little forum for sharing just a glimpse into this life over here.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “365 Days and Counting

  1. Sam the husky ninja

    Hheheheheh good post. Miss you

  2. Camille, you are beautiful. For the next month, you’re MY go-to girl! 🙂

  3. why?

    Hmmh, I have just recently been made aware of this slightly restricted self portrait that young Miss Camille Stabler is presenting for everyone to peruse and enjoy.

    What I was not aware of is the fact that some of my private actions have been made public, so I thought that it would be the correct thing to do and eventually own up to it and in fact OUT myself: I am one of the 10 total strangers who proposed to Ms C.Stabler.

    Since true love is hard to find, she is probably right negating it categorically in our approach.

    However, what I would like to express, is this:

    – The number of officially-accounted-for proposers is statistically incorrect (as so often), since there is a huge number (to be precise 23) of incognito would-be proposers, if only they had found the courage to own up to their feelings. 11 of those have since committed suicide, 8 of them are under severe supervision and strict medication in an institution for the mentally challenged and the rest were not really up to it from the beginning.
    – Since my research has been hampered by a number of hindering forces, I can not really account for the current status of the initially acknowledged 10 proposers. (Our research is unfortunately under-funded and we would not be able to compensate you financially, but we will appreciate any form of information that will help us to gather a clearer picture of Ms Stabler’s impact on southern African life in general – thank you)
    – The fact, that there is such a large amount officially accounted for and in-officially suffering members of the public, confirms my personal persuasion, that Ms Stabler was given to the world as God’s second best offering after she had perfected the art of making a truly amazing strawberry sorbet. God, being black and slightly overweight, sporting rose curlers to straighten her african-non-american curly hair (when nobody else is around) has spent the last couple of aeons to get the recipe (of the sorbet, not Ms Stabler – focus!!) just right. To find the right strawberry, young enough to carry all the flavor, while hinting at the promising degree of maturity, took a long time. Then it was virtually impossible to judge the right amount of sugar and lemon juice to add, but hallelujah, it was achieved. The final major hurdles were to find the correct blender (there is such an amount of cheap Chinese cr….. on the market) and most importantly, at what temperature to congeal this most fine and amazing concoction. In this case the answer was not 17, but rather -3º Celsius. This is the temperature at which the sorbet should touch the connoisseur’s palette!
    – Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, Ms Stabler! Well, being the second most important item in this world may trouble the competitively minded, but I think it is still quite an achievement.
    – Finally, I would like to share with you what this whole episode of my life has taught me:
    – I think I should not have booked the church at such an early stage – it was probably a bit overwhelming.
    – The fact that I missed out on meeting the parents was a major faux pas. I will never do that again, I promise.
    – I should have taken more care of my hygiene. Showering every 2 weeks was fine when it was just us boys, but a bit of an effort seems to be called for. I am also going to take classes to learn the craft of brushing my teeth – it appears to carry some importance.

    Anyway and finalway, I wish Camille an amazing amount of excitement and bonheur in her life, may she be admired (but also saved from by creeps like myself) by everyone who meets her and may she find true happiness.

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