Friday, January 28, 2011

Northern Inhambane

Meeting my brother in Vilanculos was a trip. He had gotten so much larger, by something like 20 pounds. He looked like a caricature of a 10 year old him, but he’s looked that way to me since forever. We were finally reunited after 15 months. Mom cried.

And our adventure began.

The car’s air conditioning didn’t work (despite guarantees otherwise). It was also leaking oil.

The hotel’s mosquito nets didn’t cover the beds (defeating their purpose). The microwave didn’t work. The toilet didn’t flush. The shower drooled. The bathroom was in general filthy. Their was an accessible rooftop to our hideous little cottage, but it was covered in gutted, rotting fish, which tempered some of the appeal. The restaurant took over an hour to cook our fish, though they did bring it to our house which was nice.

The icing on the cake for me was returning to our house after a day out, and the hotel did not have our keys. At first I was annoyed, but after half an hour of searching the entire compound I started getting frustrated. It was eventually discovered that the woman responsible for cleaning our house had taken the keys home. Upon hearing this my frustration boiled over to anger, at which time the manager--drunk at 2 pm--tried to pick a fight with me.

The next day the woman left our house unlocked all day (defeating the purpose of having locks on the doors), of course had we wanted to lock the door we couldn’t have because she once again took our keys (and the keys to no other room) home with her.

Throughout these endeavors British Airways gave us no information regarding our baggage which they had lost during the storm at Heathrow. We checked with the Maputo airport every day. We called, emailed and submitted lost baggage claims to British Airways, to no response of any kind. My mom and dad gamely lived out of their carry-on for two weeks.

My dad said that the most important thing was that we were together. Everything else was secondary. And when I remember our vacation I remember sitting in that crummy little cottage eating peanut butter and tuna. I want those moments back. I wish I could keep them and reopen them.

We took a trip to the Bazaruto Islands, we snorkeled in the clear blue water, ate lunch on remote beaches. We went with another couple who had met in the Peace Corps and their lovely family. Pods of dolphins raced around our boat. It was everything an amazing island getaway should be.

Afterwards we stayed at the nicest hotel I’ve ever been in on the cliffs overlooking the ocean at Vilanculos. So it wasn’t all bad.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

End of the Year

I once read a study of premeds in realtionships taking the MCATs. The study was interesting because long before they were to take the test the stress in the relationship increased, but as the MCAT approached the stress in their relationship decreased. Our professor’s analysis was that the stress decreased because both of the partners realized that it was the MCAT that was stressing them out, whereas months before the couple didn’t realize that it was the MCAT that was causing stress. The stresser wasn’t close enough for them to properly identify it.

In the two months before my family arrived I was crawling up the walls. There were so many things that I hadn’t planned ahead for, or so it seemed to me. Car rentals and hotel reservations are difficult without an internet connection, as if that would even help you in Mozambique. It didn’t help that school was out for summer, and that my computer broke (again yay!) leaving me with precious few distractions. I was travelling with my friends to kill time, and hardly enjoyed myself the entire time. I couldn’t tell if I was excited to see my parents or if I dreaded it.

Days before my house was in disarray, the hotel reservations weren’t finalized and I got sick.

I arrived in Maputo to pick up my parents and Zeus had conspired against us. They were delayed in London, with no idea of when they might escape that cursed isle. But I had fallen into some luck. A family working for the State Department had an open invitation to Peace Corps volunteers to stay in their wonderful, massive, air conditioned, well-stocked home. They offered to let me borrow their car, we watched Back to the Future (I had never seen it) on their TV, they fed me and took care of me. Their teenage daughters are well adjusted, their home is well kept, and they live a happy, adventurous life abroad together--not unlike one I may choose for myself.

Tara (the mother of the house) drove me to the airport. I was talking to my brother while I waited for mom and dad at the gate. Waiting for them to appear at any second I couldn’t stop trying to remember what they looked like. It was on the tip of my mind, but I couldn’t call it into precise detail. When I saw my dad his image filled my mind with a familiarity impossibly old. And my mom cried. And I held it in. I thought initially that I had done it for embarassment, but I think the emotions were too big to be delt any justice in an airport, over just one hug, after so long.