How have I changed since moving to Mozambique? Significantly, I imagine. I get glimpses of the magnitude when I go home, when I visit old friends, when I am reunited with old stomping grounds and memories suspended in time.
There are many significant layers to this change, and others quite superficial. This post is about the latter.
1. I use semi-rotten vegetables in my cooking, carefully cutting around the spoiled bits and putting to good use the parts that are still firm and of their original color.
2. I use the last drops of soap, face cream, lotion, perfume and laundry detergent, whereas previously, sick of the texture or scent, I would have tossed them out when it became necessary to store the containers upside-down in order to coax out the final, lazy bits of product.
3. I have come to peace with having a maid.
4. I am prone to stare back at those staring at me.
5. I eat a variety of canned foods, on a regular basis.
6. My definition of a treat includes: cheese, real vanilla or lemon extract, cold cuts, granola, bacon, nuts, grapes, peaches, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, microwave popcorn, black beans, etc.
7. I no longer think it is strange to iron every single article of clothing that I own (rather, to have every single article of clothing that I own ironed).
8. I wear a jacket, scarf and boots in 22C weather, and still feel cold.
9. I eat Indian and Thai food on a weekly basis.
10. A trip to the hick-ridden mall in Nelspruit is a treat.
11. Having the indicators/tail lights/mirrors stolen off our car is not a motive for anger, rather just a trip by Zeca to the Mercado Estrela on our behalf.
12. The phrase, "Se faz favor," is firmly incorporated in my vocabulary.
13. I think 2pm is a normal time to have lunch.
14. The prospect of a bucket shower is not horrifying. Rather, I know the exact proportion of hot to cold water necessary for a relaxing cleanse.
15. I can speak pidgin Portuguese without thinking.
16. I have minimal brand loyalty.
17. I send all my "good" clothes to the dry cleaners, or simply don't wear them at all.
18. I am used to mold, cockroaches and rats.
19. I don't feel right traveling without a capulana.
20. I have developed a bladder of steel, and am able to go over 6 hours without peeing if necessary, a skill finely honed while doing fieldwork in rural Zambézia and Nampula.
21. My definition of a toilet too gross to use has changed significantly. Long drop? No problem.
22. I can eat a chicken so the bones are clean at the end.
23. I am willing to eat a fish head.
24. I no longer think the word "Nice" used in a Portuguese context sounds bizzare.
25. Coconuts really can be a fun night out.
26. Every time I pass a wedding party, I look for the personalized license plates on the front and back of the car carrying the bride and groom.
27. I actually like xima, as long as it has some tomato sauce.
28. I have become immune to the magnitude of donations: 25 million no longer seems like an impressive number for a 5-year project.
29. Cynicism is second-nature, in particular when it comes to humanitarian aid and NGOs.
30. I am not ashamed to ask for help when parallel parking.
31. I gladly let the guard carry my heavy suitcase up the stairs, and don't feel at all guilty.
32. I let the dishes pile up over the weekend, again absent of guilt.
33. Not having internet is no reason for a panic.
34. I can hold my own in a meeting with government officials.
35. My need to shop for clothes and shoes has reduced drastically.
36. It's not at all odd to have people from 15 different countries in my living room for a dinner party.
37. I now understand that nothing is too old, too worn, too seemingly useless to be passed on or donated. Even the most tattered pair of shoes can be of use to someone.
38. I regularly run red lights while driving and don't realize I am doing anything out of order until someone (i.e. my mother) comments.
39. I am more prone to shouting obscenities at fellow drivers.
40. I spend 10+ hours a day on the computer.
41. I drink on weekdays without a second thought.
42. I complain about the dry weather when the humidity drops below 50%.
43. I read celebrity gossip every single day. Perez Hilton, I love you!
44. I place immense value on each piece of furniture in our home.
45. I am willing to buy expensive art.
46. Business class on a flight to the US seems a necessity, though I'm more than willing to take a bus to Joburg if the ticket on LAM seems absurdly expensive.
47. I can spot a South African accent a mile away.
48. A quick way to annoy me is to refer to "Africa" as a whole, rather than recognize there are multiple and diverse individual countries on the continent.
49. I would never, ever wear my hair in braids or dreads, even if you paid me.
50. I am happy to have a complicated background and life story.