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?
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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.