Sometimes you’re living your dream in Africa and things actually suck. There is no reprieve from the heat. You live in a sauna, forever soaking in a pool of your sweat. You nearly trip over deadly snakes and centipedes on your way back from the bathhouse in the pitch black. You hide under your mosquito net at night, trying to drown out the chorus of bats, mosquitos, and mysterious creatures of the night with an iPod on 10% charge. You wonder when and where you’ll get a chance to charge your phone and computer again, trying to ration communication with the outside world like the precious commodity it has become. You wake up to find your house has flooded, all of your clothes are soaked on the line outside, and despite the muggy heat, the sun won’t come out to dry things up for days. You battle mildew, mold, and persistent pests on the regular. Every minor medical problem you had in the states becomes approximately ten times worse. You try to talk with people in the market using Portuguese, but they only give you blank stares and start chattering loudly about “mulungus” (white people) in Chitswa. You dream about the produce section at Whole Foods while trying to come up with creative ways to prepare tomatoes and onions. You usually give up and eat a peanut butter sandwich. You eat lots of peanut butter sandwiches. You fantasize about cold beverages and air conditioning. You lie on the cool floor for hours trying to work up the energy to do something and end up napping half the day… then it gets dark and you actually can’t do anything because you can’t see. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
They say the first three months are the hardest. At first I didn’t understand because I had plenty of things to do: make my house a home, prepare to host a ton of friends, travel to beautiful beaches. Now I get it. I don’t have any work to pour myself into, so I have no reason to feel good about feeling miserable. As nervous as I am to start teaching, I’m ready to be doing something. Hopefully once I get my sense of purpose back, all these seemingly giant problems will shrink back down to their actual size and I’ll be able to function. Until then, I need a miracle… or maybe just a cold beer and a steady breeze.