on travel, thoughts, and the art of short fiction

Sojourner Walker- Garbage Lady

In Mozambique on April 16, 2008 at 11:40 pm
Last night, Tracy and I made fudge in preparation for a dinner party we’re throwing tonight.
We’re forcing our cozy ex-pat friends who reside in the city to join us for a night in the bush. A night without indoor plumbing or running water. Akisha’s already taken the challenge, now we’ve got three new guests on our roster.
The bush will either make you or break you.
I haven’t yet decided what it’s doing to me. Only time will tell…We’re making an elaborate breakfast for our students on Thursday to thank them for all of their hard work on the machamba (farm). The agriculture project we’ve all been slaving away at is finally taking off. Beautiful vegetation is sprouting left and right.

We’ve just solidified the breakfast budget. The students eat bread and butter for breakfast day in and day out. Tomorrow Tracy and I will make them oatmeal (with butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and a pinch of salt), fruit salad (with papayas, bananas, oranges, apples, pineapples and passion fruit juice), and french toast.
We’ll have to get up around 4:30 am to make all of this stuff, but I like to cook so I’m not complaining. Our overnight dinner guests will also attend our breakfast and meet our students and project leaders so it should be a good time.
We’re having our project leaders meet our friends largely in part to the fact that they are convinced that Tracy and I have boyfriends in the city. Whenever they see us head towards the city the shoot accusing looks our way. We have been told point blank “I know you’re sleeping with men in the city”. It’s really offensive.  Women are trusted and valued in this culture. In the US, that would be sexual harassment. We keep telling them that we have friends in the city, a group of American, Canadian and British girls that we hang out with and they don’t believe us. So tomorrow morning they will see. And the rumors can stop flying- we hope. Big brother is always watching here. Most people don’t have televisions or books or much to do, so they spend their time talking about the two mazungos who live in the pink and turquoise house smack dab in the middle of the bush. Drives me crazy! It’s the talk of the brush when we get a new capulana or a new pair of earrings from market.I am now in charge of the garbage and recycling program. I just got a list of students who have been selected to assist (against their will). Most of them are my Intermediate English students. There are twelve in total and we are going to separate the garbage into bins for paper, plastic, aluminum, ash, compost and pig feed. We will also canvass the campus and do garbage pick-ups once a week. We even get to take on the responsibility of feeding the three enormous 250 lb hogs that are kept in a pen behind the kitchen.

I spend the majority of my time working in the field or working on the garbage project which is funny, because my job description is “Professor”. I’m just going to go with the flow. I do feel strongly about recycling and I’m sick of smelling the stench of burned garbage so if this is where I’m needed, this is where I’ll put my best foot forward.

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