This post title sounds like it is some beautiful metaphor, but since I’m currently reading Jenny Lawson, it’s definitely not.*
I have long felt that the best way to get to know a city is to get lost, and then find your way. This method has helped me explore Boston, San Francisco, London, Vancouver, Quebec City, NOLA, Philly and NYC (although it’s tough to get lost in NYC. Especially Manhattan. It’s a grid.) You might notice that these are all cities where google maps works and there are street signs. Butajira has neither. (Well, google maps works but only two streets show up…and if there are street signs, they’re written in Fidel script….so yeah.)
I’ve been metaphorically lost (or at least wandering) these past few weeks amidst a few new languages, new food, new cultural norms and expectations; but last Sunday I literally got lost in Butajira.
After about 10ish minutes of serious wandering; with a vague idea of the direction I should be headed and a possible direction I’d come from, I finally admitted to myself I was lost. And wandered for about 5 more mins.
When I realized that I had passed the same street 3 times, I broke down and reached out for help. (Luckily there was still some sun, because street lights are another luxury absent from many parts of the world. Although if there were street lights, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t be working because electricity is spotty…It’s totally enough if you plan properly, but not something to be counted on as a constant.)(side note within a side note: These first few weeks have been a series of rolling realizations of the things I’ve taken for granted (utensils, deodorant, emergency response and the ability to call/text) and the subsequent enlightenment that they’re not necessary after all. – Don’t worry mom. I’m healthy. They gave me enough meds to have on hand if needed to stock a small pharmacy. There might even be a “sew-your-own sutures” kit from Klutz. I’ve heard they branched out.)
ANYWAY, after wandering for about 15mins – if I’m being honest – I called my host mother because she speaks the best English. I told her that I was at the mosque by her house…because I knew that at least, and then I asked for help. Well, I tried to ask for help. Looking back on it, I definitely did not ask for help. I’m awful at asking for help. So, when she hung up, I decided to wander around some more, giving myself 20mins to find the house. I started wandering in the direction I thought it wasn’t, and I got lucky. 10 minutes into this wander, I recognized a street and a Protestant church with loud gospel music. I definitely said “thank god” loud enough for quite a few people to hear. Since most of them were staring at me anyway because I’m white….it didn’t really matter.
Now, a week later, I’m pretty sure it would only take me 5mins of wandering to find my way again.
*do yourself a huge favor and pick up her book “Lets Pretend this Never Happened”. It is f****** amazing. Seriously. Reading that book (for me) is some serious self care.
This baby was super new. And clean. And cute. (Obviously).
Soundtrack currently in my head:
Rickie Byers Beckwith – We Let it Be
And the Moana soundtrack. Because I watched it with my host sisters last night.