The last month has been absolutely insane. My last week in Dombe and Chimoio in May was all preparation and anticipation. My trip in Americaland was finally upon me and the anxiety was starting to get to me. How would it be to visit Denver after nine months in Moçambique? How would I handle the reverse culture shock so widely talked about? Infinite questions ran through my head as I started the first leg of my journey.I’ve traveled a lot since starting college and find flying relaxing. I can sleep almost anywhere and after traveling in country by chapa I was looking forward to 15 hours in a comfy airplane seat with someone bringing me my food and drinks and a personal TV screen to keep me entertained. I ended up sitting by a church group from Akron that was returning from a two week mission trip in Moz. They are doing some great sustainable work with two villages in the south of the country and the minister and I had some good discussions about foreign aid and personal spirituality. I didn’t end up sleeping much as I felt obligated to take advantage of the vast entertainment library in front of me. After landing in NYC at 6:00am, I promptly found a McDonalds and enjoyed my first of many fountain diet cokes (breakfast of champions). And as many of you can imagine my first stop in Denver was Chipotle.
I don’t think Denver has changed all that much since I left last September but being inundated with so many people (such diversity), traffic and options was a bit ridiculous. Going to a restaurant here in Moz is a crap shoot. You can’t get excited about anything on the menu until you speak with the waiter because usually only three things are actually available. But in America, you can basically have anything your little heart desires anywhere you go. It’s amazing! Speaking of options, who’s bright idea was it to introduce cafeteria/self-service style concessions at movie theaters? The theater at the Aurora Mall provided me with my first truly overwhelming experience that first Sunday as I spun circles in the aisle trying to figure out where I got my popcorn, if I could get my own drink and where in God’s name do I pay for this stuff? I almost walked out and sent my mom in. I was later assured that any normal person would be caught off guard by this new-fangled idea and felt a bit better. Those first days progressed smoothly as I got back behind the wheel of old Remily, caught up with Mem and Thomas, played a little indoor futebol and spent lots of quality time with family. Final preparations for my brother’s wedding started as the Virginia family came into town and a fair amount of good wine and beer was drunk.The wedding itself was beautiful (I officially have a sister and nieces and a nephew now!) and the reception was quite the party. Ashlee looked gorgeous, the kids were adorable and I am beyond proud of my brother and how much he has grown over the past years.I could go on forever recalling all the details but will end by saying that it was the perfect ceremony for my brother, Ashlee and their family and that I am so happy I could be there.
The next couple of days were spent with the VA family and the kids as the newlyweds jetted off on their honeymoon. I was still on a two hot showers a day kick and was nearly always stuffing myself full of lovely foods and drinks unavailable in the Dombe. The week ended with what is probably the best surprise I’ve ever had as Rachel and Kristin flew in from NC and Florida for the weekend! I thought we were going to the airport to pick up my uncle and his family (they actually were arriving later that day) and was beyond shocked to see these girls emerge from the escalator.They had been planning this with my mom since March and due to their general lack of secret keeping skills had been forbidden to speak with me. I was of course wondering why my best friends were avoiding me during my short time in the states and was slightly offended. It was of course all worth it to have them with me for those couple of days. I got to show off my home state a bit, spoil Thomas some more as he turned the big one year old and celebrate my birthday with my favorite people in a low-key little gathering. It was an incredible weekend to say the least!
Week three was another hodgepodge of family, friends, food and wedding preparation as we counted down to my dad and Mary’s ceremony on Saturday. My uncle Steve cooked Thursday for Mary’s birthday and everyone was later mesmerized by stories from Mary’s mom Hildegard and her time in Germany during and after WWll and how she came to the U.S. to be a nanny as an 18 year old knowing no English. I could have listened all night and can’t wait to hear more once I return. On Friday most of us helped set up the reception hall at Regis and had the wedding rehearsal before enjoying my “special” spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner (it’s basically straight from the jar with tons of ground beef). Again lots of wine was drunk (have you noticed a pattern here?) and stories were swapped. The wedding was outside in a garden at Regis University where my dad and Mary both work and were they met. It was another beautiful ceremony that really embodied their relationship and lives of the bride and groom. I got to catch up with a lot of people for the final time at the reception and had some teary goodbyes in the parking lot after the Rosser side of the wedding party closed down the bar! (I'm lacking pictures from my Dad's wedding at this point but I'll get them eventually).
I just love other people's babies!
So much more happened in between those major events that I can’t really remember them all. Mom and I saw Mumford & Sons at the Fillmore (check out Matthew & the Atlas and Nathaniel Rateliff if you’re a fan of Mumford) and I was Mary’s date for Rock of Ages at the theater. I ate either 10 or 11 Chipotle burritos, had a wonderful sushi night with mom, Susan and Jordan, got to the zoo and aquarium, spent a couple hours in awe of super markets, Target and Costco and spent as much time as I could with Emmah, Amelia and Luke (shockingly, none of them wanted to return to Africa with me). Basically I had an incredible time and it went by way too fast. I had left all of my packing for Sunday morning but it kept me busy and wasn’t able to dread the idea of leaving all day. I was actually excited about getting back here but leaving my family is never easy.
And now I am safely back in Moçambique trying to mentally prepare myself to return to the Dombe. The culture shock hasn’t been too bad aside from my lack of patience for stupidly slow lines and inefficiency but I’ll get over that quickly and slip back into my life. Plus I’ve got lots of pictures and great memories to help me through those rough first days in the mato!
Awake My Soul - Mumford & Sons (I'm particularly fond of the line "In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life")