A couple weeks ago the Peace Corps gods (a fickle bunch) granted me a tidy capstone to the end of the school year by shipping me back to Namaacha, where I did my best to terrify/comfort/enlighten the new group of trainees. It was delightfully refreshing. I felt like a less-bearded Moses, come down from on high (Lichinga) to share the commandments of Peace Corps life:

Thou shalt have Patience, for shit’s gonna take a while. A long while. Learn to chit-chat and find a good book.

Thou shalt be Flexible. As the prophet Tim Gunn advises us, “Make it work.” And stretching beforehand is always a good idea.

Be not afraid of having the Stupid. You will be laughably ignorant and butcher the language. Every day. Embrace it.

Worship no god above the glorious Small Victory. She is all you have to protect yourself against the big bad African reality knocking at your door. Also, showers: relish them.

Finally, thou shalt remain vigorously optimistic. Life here will wear you down (see commandments 1-4 above). Nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

Blasphemy aside, helping with training the new group of volunteers really was a wonderful opportunity to recharge, see how far I have come during my first year in Mozambique, and solidify many of the amorphous thoughts and values and virtues I have picked up along the way.

Plus it was just fun. I had one night in transit in Maputo, where I was taken to a house party full of Portuguese and Brazilians and French and Mozambicans dancing together until dawn, making my life momentarily far more glamorous than it truly is. I wish more people could see this Africa, more Great Gatsby than Heart of Darkness, with its own slightly out of focus beauty. Mozambicans possess some uncanny magic which obscures everyday frustrations and deprivations and brings into focus the acute joy of food and drink and friendship and dance and sexuality. Their unstinting embrace of the present and passion for living immediately awes me, and the greatest of those aforementioned Small Victories come when I am swept up in the wake of that magic.

Back to training, the new group of Americans is young and fun and appropriately bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I am now on the hunt for a skilled feticeiro (witch-doctor) in Lichinga to ensure that my favorites are placed in Niassa province, otherwise I’m not likely to see much of them again. I suppose that was the one downside of the trip, getting a brief taste of some of the luxuries missing from my life in northern Mozambique makes the return a bit deflating (namely, easy access to lots of other young Americans with whom I can be relaxed, unguarded, sarcastic, and honest. Also, cute gay men.)

Don’t get me wrong, I am still entirely enamored of Lichinga and so happy to spend two years here. And I am lucky to have a wonderful, small, tight group of friends in town (now including Laura, our new Health volunteer, with whom I am quickly falling in love, although we shouldn’t tell her that yet, don’t want to come off desperate). But I do often wish it wasn’t hellishly painful and logistically impossible to get out of Dodge.

That particular problem, however, will also soon be alleviated, as at the end of November I will be running away to travel throughout southern Africa for nearly two months. On the itinerary is safari-ing with Mom and Lena (I am indecently excited), Victoria Falls and Cape Town with Meaghan Hughes, and hopping between volunteers’ sites all over Mozambique. If anyone else would like to join in on my African escapades, the calendar still has plenty of openings!