I have this random memory of me as a fifteen year old. I was walking through Westroads Mall with my mom. I was wearing my Central Cheerleading uniform and an awesome pair of yellow Adidas sneakers. It was a phase. I eventually grew out of it. Anyway, I was walking, annoyed about something. Part of that phase. I was dragging my feet as evidence as to how little I cared about whatever it was I was doing. My mom kept asking me to stop dragging my feet. I think I probably continued to roll my eyes, stop for a few minutes, and then go right back on with dragging my feet. It was all part of the phase.
I never realized how annoying that dragging the feet sound really is.
It really is like just saying “whatever” to the whole world around you. I care so little about today, I am not even going to pick up my feet all the way when I walk. I can do whatever I want and how it affects you does not bother me.
People in Mozambique drag their feet. A lot. It drives me crazy.
People drag their feet while they walk to the market. How you drag your feet while balancing a huge pile of wood on your head is a mystery to me.
People drag their feet when they go to fetch water. Sometimes its the dragging feet that wakes me up in the morning. That scratch scratch scratch on the sand.
Kids drag their feet when they run with me. It drives me crazy. I run to escape from the world a bit, to control everything around me. I wear an ipod. But I can hear those dragging flip flops or mis-matched, four sizes too big high heals. It can drown out my American pop and remind me that I am indeed being followed by a small heard of children. I am the pied piper.
But I think the dragging feet is just the start of the unexpected noises in Mozambique.
You think about Mozambique, a “developing country” in Southern Africa, as a place where people are spending the whole day getting water, caring for their cute little babies, and living in nice straw or mud huts. It is all of that. But there is energy here. There are cell phones. There are kids who are being called from the neighbors house.
I think it might be the novelty of energy that makes people put their radios on so loud. They are proud that they have that unnecessarily big amplifier, and they are going to use it. My neighbor has one CD. He plays one song from that song on repeat most of the day. Then I get a little Avril and some Bieber before he goes back to the thumping house music.
I love it when the energy goes out.
When you walk down the street, you get to walk through a variety of music. Some people playing Changana church music, others the latest Rihanna song. When you are near the school, students play Chris Brown from their phone. They think that since they want to listen to that Westlife song, you will to. More and more I am impressed with the invention of the ipod and convinced that since the walkman never made its way here, this new form of the Will Smith boom box on your shoulder is about the best thing since the cell phone itself.
But in addition to these new sounds, there are the noises you would expect in Mozambique. There is a chorus of dogs at night and a different chorus of roosters to wake you up in the morning. Every once in a while you get to hear a pig being slaughtered. Who knew that sound would be so terrifying?
As a kid, my mom used to ask us to go call everyone down for dinner. We would just stand at the bottom of the stairs and scream as loud as possible. Mozambicans are not so different from Americans. When it is dinner time you will hear the same name being screamed, seemingly to no one in particular, until Angelina (GEL-TAH-NA!) returns from whomever's house she has been playing at.
The noise in Mozambique is unexpected. I never thought of Mozambique as a loud place. Its not the noise that comes to mind first. And, to be fair, I am sure it is not the noise I will remember. My neighbor who plays the one song over and over has the cutest baby who greets me every morning when I leave for my run, “titia!” The singing cell phones can be the best part of a too long chapa ride and often ask as an ice breaker between me and the people waiting in line at the bank.
The noise is here. It rarely goes away. But there are moments of quiet. Moments when I cannot hear anyone's footsteps. Moments that I hear crickets and am glad to just sit and be.
Usually, shortly thereafter, the energy comes back on.