I’m down in Maputo this week for my COS (Close Of Service) processing. Lots of forms to fill out, and final medical check-ups before we are officially done!
A few things from the past few months I never got a chance to write about. Back two months ago when I was writing grad school applications all the time, I had spent the entire weekend shut in the Peace Corps office working on applications. Early afternoon Sunday I decided that I deserved a break, so I went home, grabbed my book, sat on the porch and propped my feet up, and settled in for a relaxing few hours. This lasted about 5 minutes before I heard a pounding at my gate and children calling out “big sister Anata!” A handful of neighborhood kids had gathered at my gate and asked me to give them an English lesson. So before I knew it, I had about 13 kids sitting on the concrete slab inside our yard and I was conducting an impromptu English lesson. Not quite the relaxing afternoon I had envisioned, but a nice one nonetheless.
Once when Anna was returning to Namaacha from a trip I took a book and went out to the main road to meet her and help with her bags. As she got off the chapa I greeted her with a big hug, then she went around back to get her bags. A man on the chapa said “oh, I don’t get a hug too?” I might get asked this 4 or 5 times a day, so I shook my head at him and thought nothing of it. “Don’t you remember me? I’m your cousin” he said. He told me who his parents are—Anna’s host parents—and reminded me that he had met me when I was visiting with my dad the day after Baby Anata was born. “Wait, so you are Anna’s brother?” I asked, pointing across the street to where she stood…talking to her 11 year old host brother. “Oh, that’s my brother!” he said. He explained that he had been living in Maputo and had never actually come to Namaacha while Anna lived with his family, so he had never met her, he only knew me from when I came back to visit. It was funny because they had sat almost next to each other the whole chapa ride, but it was me he recognized, not his own “sister.”
One day Anna and I were walking home from the Peace Corps office through Namaacha. We passed a group of high school girls and said hi to them. They said hi back, and one gave us a particularly big smile, maybe you could even call it a knowing smirk. “How do we know her?!” Anna and I asked each other, and it was clear that she knew us. This drove us crazy for a few days until I a light bulb went off in my head and I went back to the photos from the 2011 REDES southern region conference at Barra beach last year. And there she was, smiling in pictures of the “blue group,” representing her REDES group from Namaacha at the regional conference. It still blows me away on a regular basis what a small country this is!