Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vacation (Sean)

Some final thoughts while I’m here on the concept of vacation. Vacations are usually undertaken to escape the challenges one faces at home. To “get away” from something. But in general, vacations are typically supposed to be easier than whatever else you do while not on vacation. While I’ll never suggest that there is anything challenging about sitting on a beach on the Indian Ocean, this trip has certainly had its major challenges. But more so, getting used to this supersocial culture, its inefficiencies, and its transportation has been very difficult. I felt like I had really accomplished something after hearing some German friends reveal that they were looking to flee Mozambique, entirely fed up with the transportation system. I have gotten at least a little more comfortable here, to the point where I can get on a chapa by myself, can walk at night in Maputo without shaking in my boots, and can tell when I’m being lied to at the market. Much of this trip has been paradise, but it has been interspersed with intense unease (relative to my standards). I sure appreciate Tofo beach a lot more having gone through comparative hell to get there.

Africa has definitely loosened me up, made me look at my own culture from the outside, and allowed me to experience firsthand some of the challenges faced by those living here, allowing me to have a much better understanding of why things do or do not work here, and how to make change or take action in a way that is effective and appropriate for this place. After just 4 weeks here, I think the key realization is that I really don’t understand the system at all. Perspective has become one of the most important words to me, and in no small thanks to Clancy.

While I have definitely enjoyed my time here, I am excited to return to the comfort of the United States. In some ways, my return to the U.S. will itself feel like a vacation. I suppose the most successful vacations are ones where you take some back home with you.

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