Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jen's Village

* So I am about a month behind in blog entries. Don't freak out they are all hand written, but it is going to take me a while to catch this thing up. And since I am a person who likes to tell stories from the beginning, I will not jump ahead, so bear with me.

"...The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them; there ought to be as many for love." - Margaret Atwood

11/13- 11/15

I have a weird affliction. Everyone in my group of PCVs are sick of their villages, they are tired of being here, and feeling like they cannot make enough changes. My affliction is- I am not. Sure I get frustrated a few moments, but my villagers? They could not be any better. Next to the state of Oregon, this is my favorite place in the world. This small area in Africa houses people I love immensely, beauty I have found no where else. If anything, Image Village has only assisted in my romance with Africa- which is interesting because my love of this country has been tested and tried but somehow remains. I hate leaving Image, even for the day. I have this anxious feeling- what is happening there? I wonder if he is sick? If she is better? What did Mama Max cook? Did Felix open his shop on time? Did puce get in another (!) motorcycle accident? Who is holding Anna? Did Mama Suze have her baby yet? Are Giza and Kimulimuli still being fed? Did anyone remember to bathe Lau? You get the idea- as minor as these things may seem they now make up my life and not knowing the answers is weird.

I love Jen though. She calls me daily- lonely and missing Image (I understand) she begs me to visit the village she has been relocated to, so I finally agree to step out of Image. I am actually nervous about spending so much time non-stop with a Tanzanian, even one who is my best friend. I have always been allowed private space from them, a door to close. Jen meets me in Njombe- she is thrilled. Her village is near Makambako, a town north of Njombe.

The good thing about the whole visit is it reminds me of how far I have come in Image. Her village has never had a volunteer. Everyone yells, "mzungu", no one would day call me that today in Image. People talk about me in front of me like I am not there and do not understand. everyone stares non-stop, today in Image, I have to do crazy things to get people to even look twice at me. I get pestered with questions about Americans that people in my own village have known the answer to for over a year. Her teachers try to tell me, "Wouldn't you rather live here? We have regular bus service, water pumps and cell service. We are 'developed'." I think to myself- sure that would be easier. Then I look around at the lack of my people, my friends, the Image villagers who have given me everything especially their hearts. I look around at the lack of tall pine trees, deep ravines and pristine Image air. The missing rustic, rural, Tanzanian, bush- no roads, no other villages, nothing for as far as the eye can see. This is not Image. "Nope", I respond confidently. Easier is not necessarily better. In fact, one could argue that it is worse, it is certainly less exciting. So just like my heart resides on five acres outside of Oregon City, it also stay bush-bound, which to me means Image.

My days with Jen are unfortunately non-stop eating, the primary way of showing love to a guest is to cook good food, and Jen knows all the food I like. So I eat my body weight in food everyday. It is like home stay and once again I become some one's Barbie. She braids my hair, tells me what to wear, sprays me with perfume, tells me when it is time to bathe, and tucks me in at night.

However, I like it. I think there is such a thing as being on your own so long, looking out for yourself so much that it is nice to have someone care for you. Nice to have someone hold your hand and love you, nice to feel dependant. Jen cries when I leave, but secretly Image calls- I have to go home.

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