Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

America to Zim: Day 4

posted by Leila Z. on

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It feels as though so much time has passed since I last wrote, although it is only a little more than 24 hours. I am slowly getting used to the rhythms of this place, although I think jet lag is still affecting me (less every day, I hope?). Last night after recording I had my first(!) Zim bath, which was so refreshing despite being a bucket bath. Mai Lasson heated some water for me, and there is nothing like being sweaty and dirty to make you appreciate being clean. I was clean for approximately 15 seconds, because when I got out, all the neighborhood guys were playing mbira/hosho/dancing/singing outside under the darkening sky. So I had to go dance, and immediately got sweaty again. But it was worth it. There was a moment there (sitting and) listening to the mbira and singing and watching this huge thunderstorm roll in, a moment where I knew this was the right place and was so grateful to be here.

I had a good night's sleep thanks to Mai Lasson and the mountain of blankets she piled on -- which made quite a comfortable bed. I still got up early with the light, and the pigeons (they raise them here for eating), but still felt fairly refreshed.

The main event of the day was the trip to the shops in Nyamweda, to deliver Caution's cousin (a biology teacher from Bulawayo suffering from an unspecified ailment) to the kombis and to buy food. It was only about 5 miles round trip, but it ended up feeling like the Bataan death march for me for a number of reasons:

1) The sun. It is so fierce, and so hot. My energy is immediately drained by it (officially a Seattleite, maybe?). I put sunscreen on my hands and feet just before leaving, and still got sunburned.

2) Greetings. Every 100 yards or so we had to stop and greet the people we passed on the path or whose houses we passed. A not insubstantial, formal-like conversation ("How are you?" "I am well if you are well." "I am well." "Good.") That loses some of its luster the 100th time.

3) Visiting. We stopped for a long time at Mai Lasson's mother's house. I was so tired, on the verge of a migraine, and all I wanted was to sleep. :(

4) Feeling a little sad for home. Probably because I was not feeling well physically. And feeling betrayed by my body -- what a will to be felled by the heat! I am reminded of how often I was grumpy in Costa Rica because of the weather, too.

Once we were home, I had a nap and a bath, in that order, and felt so much better. Once the sun sets, all is well. I'm a Zimbabwean vampire. We'll be walking around again tomorrow -- I may carry my umbrella just to shield myself from the sun.

I found myself wondering today what it would have been like to have done Peace Corps in Africa. More demanding physically and mentally, I think -- but possibly more fulfilling? In terms of being a different experience and in being fully integrated into a community.

One of the most fun things about the day was the kids' reactions to the varungu (foreigners). Pointing, laughing, screaming when we would answer in halting Shona. Many were scared, and others followed us down the path like a parade. Ambuyas (grandmothers) were so excited to see us, and one woman told me I should come live with her. Nice to feel like a rock star again (and nice to know it will only last a few weeks, too!).

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to more rock star encounters when we go to the school where Caution teaches mbira. Langton Bapiro will go, too, and I think it could make for some entertaining interactions with the most expressive segment of the people here.

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