Friday, July 3, 2009

Back in Mwazisi

After being away for close to two months I was actually a bit nervous about going back to Mwazisi. Would people feel like I had abandoned them and left all of our projects hanging in the air while I went to go play on bikes in Mozambique? I felt a streak of my families catholic guilt, for leaving so much of my work unfinished for so long. But actually it was the perfect time to take a break. I wouldn't have gotten anything done while everybody was busy bailing and taking their tobacco to the auction floors. The Agriculture office construction is on hold while we are waiting for money from the department of agriculture so we can install the window frames.

I felt stupid for worrying about coming back because everybody welcomed me back with warm smiles and open arms. It feels a bit like coming home, being surrounded by familiar people and places again. Everything just feels good, the genuine glow in peoples eyes when they say “Machona Danny” (You've been missing). It doesn't feel like a guilt trip, but instead a sincere concern for when I'd be back. There were a lot of rumors that I had decided to leave and go back to America, because I was frustrated with the holdups in all of our projects. But others knew I would be back, and quelled rumors. I am happy to have proved them right, and came back energized and anxious to get back to work.

I was happy to find things pretty much as I left them. The pond is still full, and fish are healthy. The trees we out planted have grown significantly since I left. For the first week it felt like everything was a rediscovery; running up the hills that lead down to Mwazisi at sunrise; the ear to ear smile on the face of Sara (my favorite mandazi lady) as she greets me with her best American impression “HI DAN!”; all of the other women selling tomatoes and dried fish trying to keep up their stony faced aloof persona, but eventually relenting a smile to my broken Timbuka teasing; sitting on my front porch eating peanuts and chatting with my best friends Kavisepo and Benidicto; and the satisfied fatigue as I walk back from a good days work in the garden chewing on sugar cane at sunset. I didn't realize how I missed my daily routines until I rediscovered them.

I've also rediscovered all my old frustrations as well: no show meetings, the trapped aggravation every time a drunk corners me into a conversation on the street, being the only person who shows up to work on a project that is supposed to be a group project, the endless delays and lost paperwork that I deal with every time I go to town to try and work through the bureaucracy, the general disorder that makes getting anything done seem impossible.

Then whenever I get to my wits end with frustration, somebody always seems to go above and beyond to help me or do something nice for me, which makes me feel silly for being so dang pissed off. I guess you need those frustrations and low points to fully appreciate the good things. You need a drunk to call you an azungu and demand your money, in order to be astonished by the hungry kid on the matola who offers to share his greasy bag of chips with you.