I have been in this country for nearly three months now and things still surprise and frustrate me. I imagine (and hope) it continues throughout my service because stuff like this just doesn’t happen in the States. Let’s take my latest chapa ride for example. Mona and I were able to escape from Dombe Wednesday afternoon to come and restock and regroup in Chimoio. We caught a chapa to Sussendenga outside the mission with help from some neighbors and were on our way. As we hit the first bump in the road I were this yelp like sound from beside me and thought the woman next to me had been jostled or something. It was an odd sound but people here make odd sounds. I let it go until I heard it a few times in a row and quietly asked the guy on my other side what it might be. He very casual replied “o cabrito” (goat). Shocked, I asked “O cabrito? Onde?”. And again, as if it was completely normal, pointed and said it was just under the seat. I busted out laughing, which the woman thought was hilarious, and we all had a good laugh. So for the next three hours I was treated to the yelping and crying of a goat from under my seat. There was a chicken as well but I didn’t know that until we reached our destination. Of course no chapa ride through the mountains is complete without a loose tire and “cuidado com elefantes” signs. But we made to Sussendenga alright and enjoyed the last leg of the trip into Chimoio on the back of an open-bed truck with our new friends and that lovely goat.
On the other side, are the frustrating moments when you just have to bite your tongue and realize that this culture is simply different than that in the U.S. Plainly stated, this country has a lot to learn about customer service and efficiency before they advance very far in this world. I spent over two hours at the bank yesterday trying to pick up my new ATM card and withdrawal money because communication between Chimoio and Maputo branches is archaic and nobody does anything quickly. Apparently I don’t have a signature for my account in the system so everything I try to do requires authorization from Maputo by fax. Naturally the fax system was down. I decided to change some money as well just in case that authorization didn’t come through but that was a struggle in and of its self. Everything is done in multiple forms on paper first, a single mistake requires you to start over and unless you keep the pressure on, your forms are easily forgotten and pushed aside. Getting upset really doesn’t get you anywhere, especially when you can’t actually explain your frustrations, so I smiled, stared and threatened to go to move to a different bank. They eventually just gave me my money and we went and got a beer.