Today, we left Zobue.
It was a heart-wrenching experience.
Until today, I had actually managed to hold back my tears. I was a bit rocky and unstable all week, but I hadn't reached the point of breaking. All that changed, though, when Leme and his daughter came to visit the new house.
"The Director asked for some pictures of the school," he asked, while picking up a few of the school's new laptops that Dan had fixed the night before. "Can you put pictures on here, too?"
"Sure," I said.
And as I sorted back through my pictures, I found one picture of the school from the beginning of my first year at site. I had taken it in early January 2012, before I had even started my classes. It was a picture of classroom number four, with one little puppy seated on the front step. It was our puppy, Bwino.
|Bwino at the school, January 2012|
Suddenly, the weight of departure hit me all in one blow. Like a switch had been flipped, I started crying all at once. With a small sniff and a gasp, I found myself with tears flowing down my cheeks.
Leme looked sympathetic and Marnela looked alarmed.
"ehhh?" She said, looking at her father, then looking at me. "ehhh?"
"Sorry," I sniffed. "It's just... emotion...."
I couldn't stop the images from running and running and running through my mind. Bwino as a puppy, crying in the bath... Climbing up the mountain with Bwino in my bag...
We left the house two hours later, loaded up with all four of our final bags. I cried as we locked the dogs inside, but we knew it was for the best. They're Mozambican dogs, after all. They belong together, and they belong in Mozambique. They will stay in the care of Romao, who will then pass them to the next volunteers.
Seni helped us carry one of our bags and another student, Gito, helped carry a second. I sniffled as I walked, trying so hard to wipe my streaming tears. There was just no way to hide the way that I was feeling.
It took almost two hours to walk to the road. We stopped to talk to everyone, waving and (in my case) crying steadily.
"Professora!" My students cried. "Is it time!? Are you leaving de vez?"
"It's time," I said. "We're leaving. For good."
"Nooo, Professora! Nooo!"
We passed by the old house to despedir the kids.
"Lisa!!!" Sang Rosario, running at me. "Njuzi!" Lisa! Up!
I picked him up and gave him a hug. "We're going," I said. "We're leaving de vez. We're not coming back this time, okay?"
"Lisa!!" He said. "Da boom!" Give boom!
Our small parade walked down to the road.
Marnela started to cry when she saw us climb into the chapa, mostly out of stress and confusion. Seni didn't say anything, but gave us a silent hug. Then, without wasting any further time, our chapa jerked and puffed and started to amble. We watched as our people grew more and more distant as they faded out of sight.
|With a big, grown-up Bwino|
|Our goodbye note for Seni: "America and Africa have the same moon."|
|Dan says goodbye to Piro|
|Saying goodbye to Leme's family|
|Saying goodbye to the neighborhood kids|
|Walking down to the road|
|From the chapa: Looking backwards as we pull away|
|From the chapa: A last glimpse of Mount Zobue|
And that was how we left our site.
It was harder to leave Mozambique than it was to leave the States. The States will always be there waiting for us, when we choose to return. Our families are there. Our life is there. But Mozambique, and Zobue, especially, will never be our home again.
That's why we say we're leaving "de vez." Once. For good. Forever.
Although, as the Mozambicans say, "Deus é grande..." God is great...
You never know.