I leave tomorrow to the UK for home leave. A whole month of it. While there, our future after August will probably be decided. As our time here in Quelimane, finally draws to an end I have been musing about what I will miss.
I have learned so much here. It’s been my coming of age, I think. I have grown up, finally. Though not completely. I have learned to let go of what I consider the basic requirements for happiness. I have had daily lessons in opening my eyes to the hidden things of God. I have learned to love.
Nothing new lasts long here. So many people and things come and go. The 5.30am tennis, such a great way to start the day, with the yearly Easter tennis tournament, when no-one escaped Jan’s match making. Long gone. It was delivered a death knell when the tennis court, laid down by the Portuguese, was dug up and replaced by a thin layer of cement which was lethal underfoot and soon broke up. The Chinese take-away came and went, followed a year later by the Chinese Restaurant, also gone. Sun downers at the Referba, a thing of the past. The 5.30pm jogging-with-mates stopped when the mates left. My piano lessons ended when the teacher from Japan, went home. Help with homeschooling stopped when the qualified teacher helping me, moved on. The municipal pool purchased and made operational off and on for 15 months, has now been empty for two months with no sign of regeneration in sight. Sometimes there is Feta cheese for sale, then for an entire year none. There are times when the entire place runs out of petrol/diesel, long life milk or popcorn. We now drag ourselves out of bed early on a Sunday because the time of the International Quelimane Fellowship moved to 7.00am, when we lost our venue. Joanna said goodbye to her best friend yesterday. Her mother, a nurse practitioner from the States, who came to work with an organisation helping distribute antiretrovirals to people suffering with HIV/AIDS, had to leave when her employer was threatened with a massive fine for having nine ex-pats over the quota of 5% expats per organisation. This despite a shortage of qualified Mozambique doctors. The pot holes are deeper and more proliferate then ever. The new rain drainage water pipes put into place only last year, are already showing signs of collapse in places. The rats still run about, I counted five in one sighting in the garden of a restaurant the other week. As Richard says, the scientific principle of entropy is very apparent here. The women keep sweeping the streets so that we don’t get completely submerged by the dust.
NEVERTHELESS I have learned that none of these loses truly, really matters in the big scheme of things.
I have said goodbye to so many people, and learned to grab hold of every opportunity to make a friend and be a friend, for its better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all. I have learned to discover the hidden treasure in many a person, I would not have given the time of day to, if given the option.
I have learned so much about what education should be about. Living here has forced me to grapple with home schooling. I doubt I would have learned this anywhere else, as given the chance to send the children to a half decent educational institution I probably would have done so.
I have learned to play the piano. I have learned a dozen poems off by heart. I have learned to love dappled sunlight and Mango trees. I have learned to walk with God. I have learned to respect resilience.
I daily salute the resilient inhabitants of this place called Quelimane. A place full of smiles despite the daily struggles to survive and heart breaking tragedies that abound. I will miss the humbling experience that living here provides.
I will miss the choral singing and drum beats coming from the Cathedral across the street. I will miss going to see the dramatic African/Brazilian dancing at the Cultural Centre down the street. I will miss living at the cutting edge of the battle between hope and despair. I will miss the spectacular sunsets over the Bons Sinais (good signs)estuary, thus named by Vasco da Gama when he came by, some time long ago.