Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Weekend

A quiet hike in Zobue
Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is a full-time job.  

It's more than that, actually.  It's an entire lifestyle.  

Never before have I been so visible.  Never have I been so loved and laughed at and altogether widely-noted. Never have I been so uncomfortably... popular.

And because Dan and I are so present in the community, our behavior is always in check. We don't hold hands on the street or engage in open displays of affection. We don't drink in public. We don't fight.  We take care to be outgoing, chipper, and friendly with everybody.  In terms of cheerful public interaction, we are not unlike a pair of Wacky Waving Inflatable Aim-Flailing Tube Men.  It's kind of exhausting.

As a method of retaining identity, we try to reserve weekends just for ourselves.  Sometimes we leave to visit other volunteers.  Sometimes we lock the doors and retreat into our own "Little America."  Sometimes, we just walk away.  A long way away.

Free!  Good puppy!

Thankfully, our town was built for walking.  The countryside is laced with trails and paths. Some of the trails are wide footpaths, leading to some of the surrounding villages.  Others are no more than deer-trails, winding along the edges of fields and rows of cultivated land. A few twist into the mountains, and a few dead-end in graveyards.  All are calm and quiet.  

Dan and Bwino

This weekend, Dan and I took the dog, our backpack, and a tin full of tangerines on three long hikes into the fields beyond Zobue.  Along the way, we suffered sunburns, burs, and broken shoes.  We gathered dirt and seeds and tiny scratches.  But we also found our peace and solitude, which was exactly what we needed.

Early morning flowers in Zobue
Women wait to grind corn at the mill (moagem) in Zobue
A little girl holds tight while her father pulls over to make a call from his bicycle
Washing laundry in the stream
Sunset from the hills
A house on the outskirts of town
A lovingly decorated grave.  It is not customary for Mozambicans to visit graveyards "for fun"
 or out of curiosity.  Honestly, my presence was breach of protocol.  In my defense, however,
I would like to cite cultural differences.  In America, it is acceptable to visit the deceased.
Flowers on a gravesite in Zobue
Flowers on a recent grave
In Mozambique, people are buried with what they love.  Objects that were used often or shortly before passing are left for the deceased on the burial mound.  I can only imagine that the placement of this bottle was intentional.
A sausage tree!  How positively African!
Swimming in sugar cane.  Keep an eye out for black mambas.
Crazy bean (feijao maluco):  An awful creeper with a lasting, fiberglass sting
Found this beautiful wreath made with natural materials.  A crown, perhaps?  A decoration of some sort?
It's actually just a cushion, worn to protect the head while carrying heavy loads.
Looking towards one of our hiking objectives:  Ma-Mini-Piri (or "the small mountain")
Looking backwards towards the towering Monte Zobue
Large flowers (a protea in bloom)
Small leaves
A half-finished hut on the side of the mountain.
Probably will be used as a base for timber-cutting or farming.
The hut and a wide backyard
Mid-afternoon flower
Pigeon peas in bloom
On the way back home
Drying laundry without a clothesline
The dona da casa poses with her laundry
My favorite shot of the weekend:  An elderly gentleman asked me to take his picture.
"Please," he said.  "Bring me a copy.  Don't forget."

This morning, I sat down on a rock to share a tangerine with Dan.  We stared out into the distance, taking in the sounds of the scene.  There wasn't much to be heard-- a few ring-neck doves and the distance sound of an ax.  The occasional "twack" of laundry on rock.

"You know," I said.  "I got exactly what I wanted from my Peace Corps experience."

"Me too," said Dan.

We settled into silence, disappearing into the scene.  From the outside, in the wild, we are free to find ourselves.  And we've found our peace in Zobue.


  1. "I got exactly what I wanted from my Peace Corps experience" makes it sound waaaaay too much like you guys are about to leave. Say it isn't so!

    1. We're applying to leave on November 22nd. Is that soon? Hope not. We're got a LOT of stuff to do!