I’m sitting in the office killing time until I leave for the airport to receive Moz 19. A big welcome to all 68 new group members!
On Tuesday Anna and I went to the office—my first time out of the house since Friday. I had depleted all of the napkins in the house blowing my nose, so I stopped by the gas station to buy more. They never have change, which drives all of us crazy. Unlike in America, having change is seen as the responsibility of the customer. Customer service is not a strong point of Mozambican society. On Tuesday they didn’t have change, no surprise, but my patience was less than normal. I waited while the cashier sent someone out to ask people for change, and another man came in to buy some things. When the woman came back in with change, the cashier counted it out and I could tell she was going to give it to the man, not to me. “No, where is my change? You need to give my change.” She assured me that I would get my change, but I kept pressing her because I knew otherwise the change would go to the man first. “Fine” she said slowly “I’m going to give you your change so you don’t get mad at me with your red face.” Not the least bit ashamed, I thanked her and took my change.
Yesterday a man stopped by our gate. When Anna went out to greet him he said “I want to come in.” “Nope” replied Anna. “You have to let me in! Here in Mozambican when someone comes to your house you must show them hospitality and let them in!” Anna refused and this argument circled a few times until, exasperated, she left him at the gate. He didn’t leave so I went out a few minutes later. “Do I need to show you my identification?!” he exclaimed. “No, sir, but we aren’t going to let you in” was my response. “I am your landlord” he said, and told us our landlord’s name. I felt extremely frustrated—why hadn’t he told us this ten minutes ago? “In Mozambique you must receive people with hospitality and let them in when they request” he lectured me again. “No” I responded “we are two foreign girls living alone, we absolutely cannot let people in who we don’t know.” “Okay, you’re right” he conceded. He explained that he was just stopping by to check on us, since we live in his house we are like since daughters. He just wanted to make sure everything was okay with the house. I assured him it was and didn’t remind him that we have been living in this house since last November and he has never stopped by before. I repeated this story to a male Mozambican PC staff member later—I was afraid we had been out of line and I little rude. “No” he said “I don’t allow anyone I don’t know into my house, and you guys definitely shouldn’t.”