This is the part where I sit staring blankly at my computer for an hour. Eventually I’ll get around to the writing of this blog post, because I like to think I have good things to say. I like to think of myself as an intelligent person. I like to think people want to read about my life. Isn’t it nice to be so self-important? Anyways, I feel the words coming so I’ll get on with it.
You know what is really strange? Having Instagram in Mozambique. For a 50 meticais internet package every week (about $1.50), I can browse through perfectly manicured photos of lattes, delicious vegan meals, adorable pets in fancy parks, friends posing in front of impressive skylines, cheersing craft beers and imported wines, etc. It’s nice to get a little taste of home through these square snapshots, but it’s also sobering. Instagram has helped me realize just how different my life is here. Somehow, over the past five months, I have changed from a person who would get peeved when the Whole Foods was out of the brand of Almond Milk I prefer, to a person who rejoices when our tiny market has bread. I have changed from a person who gets annoyed when there’s no hot water left for my shower, to a person who can easily live without running water or electricity. I have changed from a person who browses the Internet for fun, reading all the viral Buzzfeed articles, watching funny YouTube videos, and pinning recipes to my heart’s content, to a person who will happily sit at an internet café 50 km from home for three hours trying to upload a couple of pictures to my blog. I don’t know when this change happened, but somehow I have found myself living in a small village in Africa, without most modern conveniences, trying to teach English in Portuguese to 140 book-less students.
And it’s quite overwhelming when I get to thinking. There are so many different worlds in this world. I always knew that, but I never really knew that. How can I possibly reconcile the world I’m currently living in with the world I came from? I’ve thought a lot recently about how I desperately need another World History class, another International Politics class, another Economic Development class. I need information, I need to connect the dots, to try and make sense of the insane disparity of resources. We are a global society of haves and have nots, takers and givers, winners and losers… but that’s a little too black and white considering that the have nots have a lot that the haves haven’t got, and the haves won’t admit that they’re haves until they are faced with what little the have nots have got, and sometimes the haves don’t care, and sometimes the have nots don’t care either, and sometimes all anybody really wants is just a person to love and a reason to laugh. So is development work even really worth it if it blinds us all with money and makes us forget our true desires? The pursuit of happiness is not the pursuit of wealth. I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I suppose I never do.
Two weekends ago, my two sitemates and I had the pleasure of staying at a resort in Vilankulos, which has possibly the most gorgeous beaches in the world. Karina has made friends with a couple there who enjoy doting on Peace Corps volunteers from time to time, in return for help with their horses (a task at which I have proved utterly useless). We were picked up in a car (a car!) and brought to a little piece of paradise where all the expats reside. We spent the weekend lounging by pools, drinking and eating delicious food, hanging out at friends’ houses and watching the Olympics on their flat screen TV (a TV!), riding horses on the beach, and socializing with other resident foreigners. It was so completely opposite our daily life in Mapinhane that I wasn’t quite sure how to process it. It was incredibly refreshing, but also incredibly confusing.
Sometimes when things get hard here, I think about escaping. I can’t wait to get back home, to get started on my real life – get my car back, buy some new clothes, move to a new city, find a new job, maybe get another degree, pay off my debts, and enjoy all the wealth my homeland has to offer. But the thing is, I have an escape. I did nothing to earn the life I lead. I was born into privilege, given countless opportunities, and groomed for success. Does any of it count if I’ve always held a get out of jail free card? My students have nothing of the sort. For the brightest of the bright, perhaps education will be that lifeline, but honestly you have to be a genius to get through this education system. There are no texbooks, workbooks, libraries, computers, labs, advanced courses, school clubs, creative teaching styles – all you have is your brain and, hopefully, a pen and paper. And you better hope you’re good at memorization.
Okay well those are just some things I felt like writing. Here are some pictures: