04 May 2007

The Zen of Waiting

Espera. Espera. Breathe in. Espera. Espera. Breathe out.

I do a lot of waiting in Mozambique. Time runs differently here. The viscosity of time varies more widely depending on the scale. On a minute by minute, day to day basis, it flows very slowly. I find myself waiting on appointments, waiting for businesses to reopen after the two hour lunchtime, waiting for emails to appear in my inbox, waiting for meetings to be held so that I can consider beginning my interviews, waiting to get out to the reserve... As I look back to January, the time has flown rapidly. It seems like I only just arrived, and I get nervous about completing the research tasks I have set for myself.

Waiting is tough for me. Chris says that I am high strung (anxious) and I won't disagree. Waiting forces me to recognize that I have no control and I just need to go with whatever happens. Letting go like this is a very difficult practice for me. Yet, amazingly things always turn out. Maybe a little later than I would like, but you can't always get what you want.

Espera. Espera. Breathe in. Espera. Espera. Breathe out.

The students I work with, particularly the anthropologists, find it funny that I am always on time or a little early. "That's so American." They tell me. "A Mozambicano will be at least 30 minutes late, if not 3 hours. That's why we carry cell phones; so we can call to see if the other person even remembered we were supposed to meet." We laugh.

But it is very American of me. Vania and Linda, both anthropology undergraduates, are good about meeting with me on time. The latest they have ever been is 20 minutes. Understandable for 2 serious, intelligent, and beautiful young woman busy with coursework, jobs, and being young and single. They are also hip to American culture and we talk lots about differences between our respective cultures. Maybe it's that they are anthropologists, but I appreciate their understanding.

Espera. Espera. Breathe in. Espera. Espera. Breathe out.

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