It’s as if I haven’t left. Beira feels so normal. I walked into town this morning because, well, I wanted to walk, and also the weather is perfect: sunshine, no humidity, in the 70s. I bought a sim card then walked across the central plaza to change some money. At first the money changer didn’t recognize me, but when she did, she was really happy to see me and told me I was looking “strong” (fat). I decided to take it as the compliment she intended and told her I live in America now and eat a lot. She said it’s because there are not as many worries there as there are here. Hmm, not sure I agree with that, but I did for chit-chat’s sake.
Then I walked around the corner to Cafe Riviera. Like always, there were the street boys guarding cars. Joaoquim recognized me right away and called out to me. And, like always, he asked me for a backpack. Like always, I told him I didn’t have one. When I asked him how things were going, he said everything was good, but that he was unhappy about one thing: that I didn’t say good-bye to him when I left. Good-byes are important in Mozambique. I promised I’d say good-bye this time.
As I was headed into the cafe, I noticed Jose, the shoe repairer and our old guard when our office was above Riviera. When I walked over to greet him, he jumped up with a big smile on his face. But he too told me off for not having said good-bye. Counting on his fingers, he proceeded to explain: “When Jim left, he said good-bye. When Mateus left, he said good-bye. When Jill left, she said good-bye. When Marina left, she said good-bye. When you left, you didn’t say good-bye.” Apparently I suck in this culture. Once again, I promised to say good-bye this time.
I’m off to grab a chapa now and head to Shoprite to buy a comb. Apparently I left mine in London. No hairdryer, no straightener, no comb. I’m walking around with crazy hair. But you know what? It doesn’t matter in the least in this context.
Did I mention how normal it is to be here?