Friday, November 6, 2009

Tim Robbins would be proud

I officially set foot in the Minneapolis airport at 10:16 am, November 21st. I am looking forward to it but can’t help but feel panic set in a bit. I have a lot to do beforehand and it’s an overwhelming idea that I will be going home permanently. I have thought about it a lot over the past two years but it seems pretty surreal now that it’s actually happening. My grades are turned in, my projects are finished, and I’ve already packed up or given away half of my things. All I have left to do is paperwork, medical exams and interviews in Maputo. One of my suitcases has already been packed and transported to Nampula city for my flight to the capital on the 17th. There is no way I am bringing a suitcase and a backpacking backpack on a chapa to the city the day I leave Monapo. It should be under the weight limit. I am going home with some souvenirs and a few changes of clothes and that’s it. Minimalism is key.

When I get home, we are probably going to go out to eat and visit with my sister a bit. Then I head back to Eau Claire for a couple days to put my stuff down, settle in and then I head to the Cities again to be a witness in my sister and her friend's mock trial at law school. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. I have never actually sat down and watched all of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade but I always say I will. Maybe this will be the year. I’m hoping for some apple pie, turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, and if all the stars line up correctly, popcorn balls. That’s what my dreams have been made of for the past 27 months.

I had a scare last week with Timba. I have been trying to get him used to the nuns’ house, who said that they would take him when I leave. Well, I took him to their backyard and was going to leave him there for an hour to start to get used to it. I get home and not 5 minutes later, Timba comes strolling through the door, panting and heaving like he just ran the Marine Corps marathon. Apparently, he shawshank redemption-ed himself out of that place. I put his leash back on him and took him back to the house and sat in the backyard with him while the nuns were in the house. The nuns have two other dogs. One is just a puppy and a Mozambican dog (a mixed mutt) like Timba and the other one is an actual, rip-your-face-off kind of German Shepherd guard dog that they bought in Maputo. Timba had never been in the yard with the dogs when they were out of their cages because they weren’t used to each other yet. Well, I was sitting with Timba, petting him and trying to get him to adjust to the yard with the other dogs in cages. As I was sitting there, I noticed that the German Shepherd kept pawing at his door and that the latch to the cage was slowly lifting as a result. As soon as I saw that, I grabbed Timba’s collar and dragged him toward the gate. The gate was shut and as I was trying to open it, I turned and saw the German Shepherd coming toward us with his head and tail down. The dog attacks people it doesn’t know and my heart just sank. Timba took over from there though and fought with him and I was able to get out of the gate and shut it. I yelled for the nuns and they came running but there was no way to stop the dogs from fighting. Timba refused to be pinned to the ground by the big dog and they were biting and fighting each other all over the backyard.

People were standing at the fence, laughing and talking about what was going on with each other. It was like a telenovela on TV to them. Something dramatic and interesting to do at the moment. I, meanwhile, was having a nervous breakdown in the yard. The nuns kept calling for the dog to go in his house. When he obviously wasn’t listening, one of the nuns put a padlock on the gate and said no one was going in the yard. She said their dog would hurt anyone who went in. Both of the nuns kept pacing and saying “he’s going to kill your dog.” Thankfully, Timba is smaller and was able to escape through the hole he originally found. He ran straight home and I sprinted home after him, yelling at the people at the fence as I ran. I got home and he was panting and pacing, covered in blood. His adrenaline eventually calmed down enough that he let me give him a bath and I realized that most of the blood wasn’t his but that of the other dog. He beat up a German Shepherd guard dog and got away with only a couple of scratches and just 24 hours of soreness! I saw one of the nuns a few days later and she said “your little dog is strong! Our dog has a wound on his neck.” The whole situation made me appreciate and love my dog even more. I've never felt unsafe in my house because he's always been by my side. He will be one of the hardest things for me to say goodbye to.

Besides that drama, I have been busy with an application and getting the right paperwork from the school system here. The application is for one of my REDES girls. I am helping her apply to a school called the African Leadership Academy in South Africa. It’s like a secondary school for African youth that focuses on giving them a quality education to help develop and improve their African nations, and the possibilities of continuing their educations in South Africa at the end of their schooling. Teresa, one of my REDES girls, is wonderful. She is respectful, intelligent and eloquent. I have high hopes for her. Even if she doesn’t get accepted, I have all the faith in the world that she will accomplish things in her lifetime. Her goal is to work in the hospitals with pregnant women. 3

The other application I have been working on is to apply to teach abroad in Japan. If I were to get accepted, I would leave in July or August and the contract is for a year with options to extend. If that doesn't pan out, I have been updating my resume to apply for jobs. I need to save up money and pay off some of my student loans. It'll be back to the real grown-up world, with bills and responsibility of a different nature. But I look forward to it in a sick kind of way. I can't wait to get my first cell phone bill and pay for my health insurance. It means I'm moving onto a different phase in my life. But talk to me again in two months and I might be whistling another tune.

I am getting two site visitors this weekend. The new group of PCVs is in Maputo (Moz 14) in training and before they swear in, they are always sent to people’s sites to get an idea of what life is like at site and as a teacher. Should be a good time. After they leave, I will be alone in Monapo for my last week. I plan on just walking around, taking some pictures, and relaxing at home with the dog. Low-key. But that’s just how I roll.

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