One of the funniest and most unexpected transitions I have had to make is the fact I am once again in summertime. It has been, to put it nicely and without using any fowl language, blazing hot heat, with an abundance of humidity. Sweating has become so normal and commonplace I do not even bother wiping it away unless it starts to make my eyes stick together when blinking. I have discovered so many parts of my body I did not even know were capable of oozing out that lovely salty liquid.
However, with summer also comes some of my favorite things in the whole wide world, and I am starting to really appreciate them. Mornings and evenings are basically perfection here, cool, with a thick smell of blooming flowers. I love sitting out on my porch with a cup of hot tea, while I listen to the crickets, look at the stars and write papers. Also, peaches are in season now, and incredibly sweet (yesterday I ate four), cold water has never tasted quite so delicious, and the sun paints the sky with vibrant colors that continue to startle me with their beauty. To top it off, what is more quintessential to summertime than a weekend trip to the beach? The answer is nothing, and that brings me to my intercultural communication field trip.
The purpose of the trip, rest assured those footing my tuition bill, was not to go to the beach, rather to experience a very unique Indian community, that just so happened to be near a beach. We stayed in a little conference center (with no air con, where the temperature was 102 with 90% humidity) about an hour away form our normal campus. The weekend was packed with so many good stories, so I’m just going to give you a few different snapshots of highlights, otherwise this post would be a small novel.
Snapshot 1: The Journey There
As usual, relocating the small country that is all 53 of us was an arduous task that left me and my two friends Kailey and Noah without seats in the bus, giving us the privilege to ride with out professor and his wife in their car. I personally was excited to get to know my professor and family better on the drive (lesson one in how to get a good grade, always befriend the professor). All was well until, in the middle of an abandoned road his car completely broke down. Awesome. Not only was the rest of the group far ahead of us, but in rural Africa, things like tow trucks and car garages and few and far between. So what happens in this type of situation? Why community of course! My teacher just so happened to remember he knew of a local pastor (let me reemphasize rural, abandoned road, what are the chances he would know someone?). He called his friend up, and the pastor drove out with a couple other men. After 6 of them peered over the engine of the car scratching their heads for about an hour, the decision was made to create are own “tow truck”.
Pause: all throughout this situation Kailey, Noah, and myself are hanging out with some local people that live in little huts and houses around the road and met their pet cows…you know, just killing time.
So, about an hour later, our car was tied via rope to a pick up truck in front of us (hey, this is Africa, its totally safe). We all piled in, and got “towed” African style for about a half hour, with smoke billowing out the back of our vehicle. Thankfully the breaks still worked in our car, and we made it safely to a gas station where the others were waiting for us. The car is a goner, but we made it alive, which is all that matters.
Snapshot 2: My Weekend Roomie and Visiting Town
Upon our arrival to our destination (about 4 hours of total travel time, when it should have taken us 1) I discovered to my delight I was going to get to share a bed with Emily, my roommate of soul. Both nights I slept so well, and I don’t think it was a coincidence that it was cause I got to share a bed with her.
On our second day there, we drove into the downtown of Unzinto, and essentially got dumped out and were told they would come get us in an hour, so scatter and learn. Everyone headed their own ways, and me and Emily stopped and looked around. We were the only two white girls for as far as the eye could see. While most may panic in these situations, we thrive. Pulling her camera out, Emily begin to snap up our journey with her cannon. We purchased some ice cold ginger beer (a type of soda that BURNS on the way down, but don’t worry mom, it was non-alcoholic) and just started meeting shop owners and adventuring through the city. It was wonderful, and my soul and mind were stimulated in a special way. Its so rare to experience culture without the “tourist” aspect, and while we may have stood out…a lot…we got to see a type of life so uniquely African. I truly cherished my time there, as hot and stretching as it was.
Before we left to come here, in one of our training sessions, a lecturer told us true adventure is discomfort remembered. This experience fitthat description perfectly.
Snapshot 3: The Beach
Later that afternoon we got to visit the local beach. Having grown up near a beach, it wasn’t super exciting, until I mentally realized on a map just what beach I was at. The one at the tip of Africa! so cool…the water is incredibly warm (near bath water temperature). It looked pretty humorous because it was a giant patch of white people in a defiantly not mainly white beach. Sadly due to my sunburn I basically stayed covered up in a long sleeve t-shirt and running shorts (I looked totally un-cool. Imagine: cranky Kayla completely covered with a bunch of girls in bikinis around me). Not to be a Debby Downer, but the beach has never been my favorite place to begin with. I try to joy it, and every now and then its not so bad, but mostly I struggle to fully understand why everyone is so crazy about it. Honestly, what is the appeal of having sand in every crevice of your body? I’m pretty sure I am still picking sand out of my nose from the trip…
Snapshot 4: Church and Lunch with the Pastors
Sunday we all split up and went to different Indian churches. I had the delightful experience of going to the church with no air con and no windows, with 100 other people in attendance and a 105 degree day outside. Can you say body heat? Oh but don’t worry, the service was only three hours long, so I didn’t get overheated, there were two fans in front. It was not in any way the equivalent of having warm, bad breath continually blown on my face. The service was unique, long, and exhausting, but it did widen my worldview, and caused me to ask myself lots of important questions. After church we experienced some true Indian hospitality, and ate lunch at various members houses. Best. Meal. Ever. This is in no way sarcastic. I love real Indian food. I am addicted: spicy curry with rice and so many yummy other dishes packed with flavor and heady spices. I was in heaven, and everyone there was so kind. I felt like I understood more fully what it meant in the bible when Jesus would travel around and people would take him in and feed him. It did not matter to our hosts that they had never met us, and would probably never see us again, they treated us like kings and queens. The most humbling part of it all was that we had to just graciously accept it, because any other response would simply be insulting.
So that was my weekend, if you just read this whole post, I am impressed! Hopefully you found it worth your time. I miss everyone back home, and want to hear from you! So if you have a minuet say hi via comment or facebook.