Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wide open spaces...


I have this tradition with a friend where we write e-mails when we can about whatever is going on in our lives and somehow we got to using song titles as subject lines.  For me it was a song that described my life at the time or I was particularly enjoying. I’ve been slacking on my end of that exchange but it got me thinking about music and how important it is in our lives. Even here in Mocambique music is everywhere and usually being played really really loud. So as I have transitioned into this new life, I’ve been relying on music to calm my nerves and comfort my heart.

I’d be lying if I said everything was perfect and I’m loving every minute. It’s been hard. Really hard sometimes.  There was jetlag at first, the adjustment to new foods and dealing with the subsequent “system issues”, then came latrines, bucket baths and the language barrier between me and basically everyone else. It’s difficult and stressful and sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and return to my easy suburban life. The first night in Namaacha with my host family was my worst and I’ll admit there were some tears and some “what the hell am I doing”’s and I’m fairly certain I’ll probably have other nights like that. But then there are those truly wonderful moments of connection and beauty and joy.  Showing my host family the dance I learned in class that day and having them laugh at my “dance skills”, juggling a soccer ball with my brother, understanding an entire conversation in Portuguese, hearing rain on the tin roof of my little house. I’ve only been in this country a week and a half but the soundtrack of my life might rival that of any hit film.

So, back on topic. For anyone who knows me, ‘Wide Open Spaces’ is basically the story of my life and you can’t really get any more wide open spaces than in Africa.  The landscape is beautiful and natural and seriously straight out of The Lion King. I half expect to see Pride Rock off in the distance one of these days. Namaacha, my current home, is on the frontera (very close to the Swaziland border) about an hour and a half outside Maputo. Basically as far south as you can be in Mocambique without hanging out with the border patrol.  I think I heard that there about 40,000 people in the district but most are quite spread out and not directly in town.  Its remote and rustic and like nothing I’ve ever experienced. True open spaces.
I’ve found over the years that certain songs will forever take me back to particular moments in time. Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’ drops me back into the emotional turmoil that was the end of my freshman year of college. Anything Ryan Montbleau reminds of my adventures at the Don Lee Center and Kenny Chesney’s ‘Better as a Memory’ reassures me that some people, things and places are simply meant to be items of the past. I fall asleep to the soothing sounds of Jack Johnson, Bruce Hornsby and Michael Brooks. I remind myself that I have the most amazing support system back home with the mix my mom made me (and that amazing book of letters!) and pump myself up with some Justin Timberlake and G. Love.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m surviving. Some days are harder than others but overall things are good. I’m learning Portuguese little by little, making friends with some truly amazing and motivated people and loving the immediate acceptance I received from my host family.  I will describe them more another time but they are wonderful. It’s a huge family and I don’t exactly know how everyone fits in but everyone is accepted and welcomed. They are patient with me, laugh at my American ways and give me the space I need without isolating me from daily activities. I’m getting used to and enjoying bucket baths and am mastering my skills at Charades when words aren’t available. This weekend my mom is teaching me to cook. Obviously she’s a patient women!

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