This week is mid term break. It's funny because up until this week, I didn't feel like I needed a week off. Things are going so well in school and I love my students. However a funny thing started to happen two days before break. I started to feel homesick and tired. Often times at home when I make it to a break from school, I get sick. It's almost like my body knows it gets a chance to rest and so it gives in. I think that is happening a bit with homesickness for me. It's not the kind where I am sitting around sulking miserably, crippled with sadness. It's more that I'm aware of the things at home that I miss. The main one of course is my family and friends. I have met so many incredible people here, but there is something so special about those in our lives that have known us through thick and thin. The history and the foundation make for a relationship where you truly feel known. Whenever I miss a person from home, it makes me smile. I know this is an odd reaction, but it is such a tangible reminder of how blessed I am and how truly loved to have such wonderful people in my life. Another thing I'm missing greatly is fall. I feel somewhat stuck in summer as the days are becoming hotter and as I've finally given in and purchased a fan. I miss the cool, crisp air, the beautiful autumn leaves, and the aromas that come with this delightful season (pumpkin spice lattes, cinnamon, wood stoves, candles, and apple pies to name a few). Instead of cozying up with a fleece blanket and a good book while the leaves drift to the ground outside my window, I am heading to the pool to jump in the water and cool myself off. Don't get me wrong, the sun does feel glorious and I am working to appreciate the warm weather, as I know all my northwest friends will soon be missing it tremendously. It is just making me aware that I'm a huge fan of experiencing all four distinct seasons.
I am also missing the ease of which things are done in the states. A quick trip to the grocery store to grab one item, the four minute wait at the coffee shop, and my new favorite, the at max ten minute wait to put fuel in your car. There has been a shortage of fuel here in Malawi, which leads to ridiculously long cues in order to wait for petrol when it is available. Up until last week, I had only driven past these cues and heard about them from others, but had never experienced one for myself. On Friday that changed as I received word that there was petrol at one of the gas stations nearby. I jumped in the car that I'm sharing with three other girls as part of the carpool on campus, and headed over. I followed a friend who has done this many times and who was the one who had heard where to go in the first place. We pulled up on the side of the road behind the long line of cars that seemed to stretch on for at least half a mile. Apparently the tanker had just unloaded the fuel and the line would start moving soon. After about forty-five minutes, we started to inch our way up. When I say inch, I mean inch. One car would leave the line and the whole slew behind would move up one car length. We would then get out and talk and feel the breeze before getting back in our car and repeating the process. After four and a half hours, my hopes started to rise as we only had about fifteen cars left in front of us. It was now dark and many had left with full tanks or jerry cans filled with fuel (that's a whole other story as people wait in line with jerry cans and then fill up two or three at a time). I started to sense something was wrong when someone ran past us, away from the pump with an empty jerry can. He was shouting something in Chichewa, and then the cars in line in front and behind us started to leave. Turns out they had run out of petrol and after four and a half hours of waiting, we left with empty tanks. I cannot complain because this is the first time I've ever had to wait. However; it was frustrating to get so close. The next day, my wonderful roommate took the car and waited for 6 hours at a different gas station. She ended up leaving with a full tank and now we are cautious on where and how much we drive as we want to make our fuel last as long as possible!
These are just a few of the familiarities of home that I am missing. However; it is part of the experience and I know I wouldn't feel myself changing to the extent that I am without all the differences. I will continue to enjoy my week off and enjoy the people and characteristics that make this place so special. This will be for another blog post as there's so much here for which I'm thankful. As a take away, if you are reading this and have easy access to fuel, please do not take it for granted!