Monday, March 8, 2010

Going native

Hello friends!

A lot has been going on here in Mozambique as I’m sure is true back home. Seems strange to think life stateside doesn’t just pause while I’m gone and start again when I come back. I’ll catch you up on various happenings over the course of the next few blog entries.

I am feeling more at home here. For example, I used to dread going to the big market, navigating the stalls, being catcalled… but now I love going. I go at the end of the day when it’s cool and the market ladies are finishing up. At that point they’ve had enough of selling and get very silly. We joke around and I practice my Xangana. I’ll say “inhlekani” and they’ll squeal “inhlekaaanniii! Hey everybody look! The mulungo speaks Xangana!!” Then they’ll start rapid-fire Xangana lessons and point to all the vegetables at their stalls. People at the market are even crazier now that it’s the season for making canyu (a fermented fruit juice) and they quit early to go dance and sing.
Some might say I’m “going native,” a little bit more every day. I wear a capulana around the house, I bought a hoe in town last week, I know how to grate coconut and pound peanut flour and cook xima. I find myself singing and dancing to the music blasting on chapas. I’ve even begun to adopt the Mozambican style of small talk that is, telling people what they are already doing.
- Good morning!
- Good morning!
- You are walking.
- Yes, I am walking.
- Me too, I am walking.
- Yes, good, we are together then.
- Yes, we are together.
- Good bye!
- Good bye!

Josefa (a friend we hire her to wash our clothes and clean our house) is convinced that we are getting fatter and darker and are going to marry a Mozambican, preferably her son. She’s probably right on two accounts, definitely not the third. Everyone wants to marry an American and go to the United States. I’m always getting asked if I will marry a Mozambican. If it’s a man, he’ll propose right there; if it’s a woman, she’ll set me up with her son.

There are ups and downs of course. Sometimes it hits you all at once (cultural barriers, ignorance, poverty, hunger, discrimination, homesickness…) but most of the time I feel good. I’m happy, and I feel incredibly lucky to be here.

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