Yesterday we finally made it to the home of Marcia, one our best friends here in Mapinhane. Despite Marcia being one of the most important people to our service, we had not yet visited her home since arriving here in December 2015. Marcia is one busy lady: she works at a shop 6 days a week, goes to church 3 or 4 nights a week, and on Sundays until 2. Finding a chunk of time to go visit her at home was one of our top priorities for this home stretch of Peace Corps service.
We wandered around her property, looking a her small garden and all of her fruit-bearing trees, picking some lemons and moringa to take home. We helped her cook Matapa, one of our favorite dishes and the one she had been promising us for months. And we spent a lot of time chit-chatting.
Marcia was one of the first people we met in Mapinhane, and has been a pillar of support ever since.
When it was so hot that my brain was boiling in my head in the first few months of service, Marcia was the one that humorously recognized the struggle. “Go home Cecelia. I can see you can’t speak Portuguese right now. You’re too hot.”
When we started teaching Marcia English, she cracked us up when she shared one of her reasons for wanting to learn: “So if someone bad is following me in America, I can tell them, ‘I will kill you!'” she explained with her fists in front of her scrunched-up face.We chuckled, slightly uncomfortable, at the image in our minds.
When I came to her toward the end of last year, exasperated about my wild 8th graders and their constant criticism of my ‘disorganized hair,’ she gave me sage advice: “You just tell them ‘Estou bem como estou’ (I am fine how I am). Now, instead of worrying about my hair, you worry about your future!”
When I gave her perhaps the 15th little sampling of a food I had cooked, she nodded her head and told us, “Yeah, Cecelia is the best in the kitchen,” sprinkling in ‘the best’ in English in the otherwise Portuguese sentence.
And it’s not uncommon for her to laugh and tell us she’s been practicing her ‘ginasticos’ so she can fit in our suitcase and come home with us to nanny our future children.
After our lunch had turned into dinner, she walked us back to the main road, 5 and a half hours after we had met her there. I said goodbye with the customary kiss on each cheek, her telling us ‘see you tomorrow’ in English, and us telling her the same in Shitswa.
“Até manziku mana Marcia.”
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