Luisa

My new empregada Luisa finally moved in with me—I still don’t know if she had been planning to the whole time and or if it was I that finally convinced her, though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she had been apprehensive about living alone with the strange, foreign teacher. Luisa is in tenth grade and comes from a tiny area several kilometers west of Estaquinha. She has class all morning and I teach primarily in the afternoon, so I am able to steal some time alone for myself. The situation itself is sort of inherently bizarre (I still feel awkward and spoiled having someone to my chores), but for the most part I am happy to have the company. We eat together but I have still been cooking for the most part, largely because she is wary of the gas stove I was so excited to buy. I think we are going to acquire a coal one and then we can both cook; since food is not the easiest to come by, I feel fortunate to have someone who can help me figure out what to eat and how to prepare it.

Having a roommate has been great for my Portuguese, but hopefully I will pick up some Ndau while she improves her English. In addition, I no longer feel like such an alien in my neighborhood. Not only do all my colleagues say, “Oh you have a girl now to live with you, that’s so much better!” but I feel like I’m participating more in the life of the neighborhood (though part of that may be just continuing to adjust to living here). While there are obvious cultural differences, even tensions, I feel like having a roommate of the culture into which I am sort of inserting myself is valuable because community, socializing, and sharing are such widely accepted values.

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