Breaking Blogger Silence for the First Time in...Awhile

I've been feeling terribly guilty about neglecting this blog. I could post a long list of excuses for my neglect, but instead, I think I'll just blog an extract from an email I sent to Mom and Dad a few days ago.

About a week and-a-half ago, Zhenya and I went out to Mafambissi to interview some orphans that were being cared for by a man everyone calls Pastor Peter. Some of the kids were being sponsored by a team of Russians that had come to the base awhile back, and the Russians requested background information on the children they were sponsoring. Long story short, about 14 of the kids weren't there when Zhenya and I went the first time, so we had to go back yesterday. 

Our day ran something like this:

8 am. Expecting someone from Pr. Peter's to arrive and take us to Mafambissi.
10 am. Chico actually arrives
10:20 am. Waiting for choppa
10:30 am. Discarded choppa idea and piling into the back of a pickup truck.
10:50 am. Wondering if the truck was such a great idea as the skies darken, the truck sounds like it's about to die, and we reflect that we're carrying a laptop.
11:20 am. Arriving at Pr. Peter's, only to discover that the power is off so we can't plug in the laptop. The laptop has a very feeble battery, so it won't run for very long unless it's plugged in.
11:30 am. Pr. Peter sends someone to ask the neighbor if we can use his electricity.
11:50 am. Still waiting for an answer. Pr. Peter sends someone else over to the neighbor's to (hopefully) expedite the process.
12:00 pm. Neighbor arrives
12:30 pm. After a lengthy chat, the neighbor divulges that he doesn't have electricity, either.
12:40 pm. Zhenya and I decide that we'll try to make it with the laptop battery. 
1:10 pm. Done interviewing 4 kids. Pr. Peter informs us that the others live in the village.
11:20 pm. Marching about the village in the rain, finding the kids' houses, waiting while someone finds the kids, and then doing the interview while trying really hard to keep the laptop dry, all the while with a persistent bevy of onlookers.
3:00 pm. Arrive at last kid's house to discover that he just left for Dondo. This is a little ironic, since that is the village we live next to. I DO NOT volunteer to go traipsing around THAT village looking for him.
3:15 pm. Arrive at choppa stop.
3:17 pm. Pr. Peter invites us back to his house for tea. How exactly do you refuse that politely?
3:35 pm. At Pr. Peter's, waiting for tea.
3:45 pm. Still waiting.
4:10 pm. Tea arrives
4:12 pm. Zhenya and I discover, AFTER dumped in a teaspoon of sugar, that the tea was (generously) pre-sweetened.
4:20 pm. We're finished gagging down sickly sweet tea and are ready to go.

4:30 pm. Waiting for someone to take us back to the choppa stop. Neither of us is confident that we can find our way back through the intricate pathways of a Mozambican village by ourselves.
5:00 pm. Leaving for choppa stop.
5:15 pm. Arriving at choppa stop.
5:30 pm. Getting out our fare and, in the process, accidentally spilling all my loose change on the ground. Also remembering, as a random Mormon guy comes up and proposes to me, that Jon and Carla have said that it's not wise to be outside of the mission compound in the evening.
5:40 pm. Eying the dark clouds and really hoping it doesn't rain.
6:00 pm. Cramming myself into a choppa. It's rush hour, so the usually crowded choppas are extra full. I'm lucky to get a seat, wedged between a window and a stout lady, with my face about 5 inches from the face of the guy who's sitting across from me.
6:15 pm. Becoming increasingly aware that there is a large capulana full of dead fish about 6 inches from my nose.
6: 20 pm. Wondering if the moaning sounds issuing from the back are coming from a goat, a sick child, or a mentally deranged person.
6:40 pm. Stopping at the police checkpoint. 
6:45 pm. Watching people run back and forth with papers and wondering what's going on.
7:00 pm. Still at the police checkpoint. It is now fully dark. I'm REALLY NOT supposed to be out this late, but there's really nothing I can do about it. My legs are beginning to get really cramped.
7:15 pm. Finally moving again. Goat/child/deranged person resumes their moaning.
7:30 pm. Really, really hoping that fish is NOT on the menu for supper.
7:40 pm. Back at last, and regaling Jon and Carla with a tale of our adventures.

So yeah, that's what it's like over here. It took us all day to do what would have been about a two-hour job back in the U.S. It's sooo tempting to get frustrated, but I always have to stop and remind myself that this is Mozambique, and when in Mozambique, do as the Mozambicans do. Take time to wait. Take time to drink tea, even if it is disgustingly sugary. Above all, realize that there is no such thing as a personal bubble over here. If you're going to take public transportation, you have to get used to being squished up close and personal with people who haven't bathed in awhile, dead fish, goats, etc. 

So, that's that. At this point in the email, I explained that I was extremely sleepy and needed to go to bed. Since that doesn't exactly apply anymore, I'll just resort to Portuguese and say "boa noite!" Hopefully, I have broken the vicious cycle of blog neglect and will be inspired to post again soon.