Category Archives: travel
Sitting at a cafe, trying to stay warm, I think about all kinds of stuff.
One thing I’m thinking of today… Before I left the States, someone said, “I hope you find what you’re looking for out there.”
It’s weird. Maybe, I’m weird. But, I’m not looking for anything out here, except what is out here. I just want to be part of the world.
It’s weird, I suppose, because I have met quite a few expats running from things, running to things, looking for something or someone, trying to forget someone or something. But, I’m not. I didn’t set out here to find anything, not even myself. I had already found myself before leaving the States the very first time.
I just want to see the world. Plain and simple. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, for a long time. But, I’ve wanted to see the world since I was a little girl. I dreamed of visiting sites I learned about in History classes or read about in magazines. Traveling has been a dream for as long as I can remember.
And I finally found a viable way to do it. A way that makes me happy. A way that helps me feel like I’m contributing to the world I want to see and be part of. Teaching. I love teaching. I love traveling. Therefore, I completely love my life.
Are there people that don’t get it? Sure. Of course. That’s ok. They don’t have to get it. It’s my life, and I completely get it, so they don’t need to.
There are a few who are worried for me. Some that think I’m crazy. There are even a few that are mad at me because I have chosen to live the way I’ve always wanted to. Frankly, I say, that’s on them.
It’s the little, every day moments that I love out here. It’s the smile on the barista’s face when she sees me because she gets to practice her English when I order. It’s the drive through a little village and seeing the people driving a few head of cattle across the street with motorcycles and cars trying to go around. It’s looking up at beautiful mountains dusted in snow. It’s seeing a Chinese man walk across the street and feel pangs of missing a place I called home for a while. It’s the little things that make me feel part of the Global community that keep me loving it so much.
I know a few people who have goals to see x amount of places before such and such a time, or step foot on every continent, or other really awesome goals. My goal from day one, has been to teach around the world, so that I can be part of it. I want to learn from it.
I am learning from the world. I am teaching in the world. I am being in the world. I am happy.
Recently I’ve told a couple people a bit of my life stories. It used to make me sad afterwards. But one incredibly great thing that came from the ugliness of my time on Ilha, is that I can truly feel my own strength. I have been through the baseness that mankind has to offer and not let it harden me. I have learned how to be a better, stronger, kinder, more understanding and compassionate person because of what I’ve been through. That’s apparently a lot more rare than I understood before.
I’m freaking proud of me.
One of my students asked me yesterday if there was anything I would change if I could go back in time. I didn’t even hesitate to say no. I like who I am and I wouldn’t be the me I am, if it weren’t for the things that shaped me into me. So, no, I wouldn’t change anything.
Do I wish that I could have learned a few life lessons without the pain? Sure, but both are necessary to recognize either, so…… I’ll be happy just being the me I am, with the stories I have.
Mostly, I tell my stories in order to let it not hurt me any more. But I also tell them because I hope other people can learn from them without having to actually experience them. I started traveling again so soon because I didn’t want to let fear get the upper hand. The longer I held off, the harder it was becoming to believe I could again. SO, I told fear to fuck off.
And here I am.
Walking around a beautiful city every day. Teaching amazing students from all over the world. Working with supportive, caring people. Making friends with other amazing teachers. Sitting at cafe’s and pondering the little things that make my life happy.
My peace is tangible. My joy surrounds me like a beautiful sparkly cloud of awesome. I am happy just being out here in the world. I’m not looking for anything; every day brings me something new to wonder at.
#Lovelife. #Noregrets. #TeachPeace. #Notallwhowanderarelost
It’s been almost 3 weeks. I’ve made it through Christmas and now the New Year is on the horizon!
Here are a few photos of my time so far. First weekend was a lot of fun meeting new people and seeing the night life scene!
My first sight-seeing trip introduced me to the beautiful mountains I’m surrounded by. Loved it!
A day out with my new co-workers, a birthday celebration, and some fun seeing the new school I’ll be working at.
I’m helping some new friends to start their own bar. My first New Year here will be at their Grand Opening! So glad to be part of this new adventure among all my other new adventures.
A few random shots from around the city.
Christmas dinner was delicious and I am glad to have shared it with some great people.
It’s coming together. I’m lesson planning like a mad woman along with all the wonderful other things that are going on here. I’m feeling so grateful.
I made the big “mistake”, if you can call it that exactly, of challenging the New Year, last year. I will not be doing that again this year. This time, for 2016, I am asking for some time to continue learning and growing, with gentleness and ease, from the lessons I’ve already had.
2016 I’m glad you are here. Let’s be good to each other, shall we?
A new adventure!
I’m always amazed when I first get to a new country. There are so many things to learn, look at, eat, and know. Once I arrived, I knew I had found a place I could stay a while.
Along with a few ESL classes, I am the new Science teacher at an International School. I’m spending my Winter Break creating science units and lessons for grades 3-8. It’s So, So, SO much fun! That is not sarcastic. I’m really enjoying it.
My classes are truly international, with students from Europe, the Middle East, the Balkans, Asia, and the Americas. I’ve been welcomed in from the first day and have met many other expats as well. What a fun place I’m living in!
Dancing on the weekends never disappoints! And, I have a new puppy, Zoe. Technically, she’s not mine, my bestie rescued her, but I get to claim her while I live here 🙂 Zoe’s about 7 months old and had been hit by a car when very young. She’s got a funny little gait, but she keeps up on our walks. Getting to know how to be a good doggie second mommy has had its ups and downs, but mostly ups! Yeah for conquering fears a little more every day.
I’m grateful for a good job, in a good city, with good people. It’s the season to show our love for humanity. And so, I will also be doing some volunteer work at the local orphanage hospital. Holding and comforting tiny newborns and infants sounds like a pretty sweet way to celebrate the Season well. I will let you know how that goes, because I expect pure, exuberant awesomeness to come from those days.
I need to get back to planning for a semester of science, but I wanted to check in with everyone and say Hi! Go be awesome.
Tell ’em Ms. McKahsum told you to!
I keep asking the questions and having to remind myself that I couldn’t have known before what I know now. Reminding myself that I am not the one to blame here.
Many people don’t understand my wanderlust, or how I can travel alone as a woman. And even those that understand that, have trouble with the fact that I let Spirit guide me as much as research. Thankfully there are a few that totally get me.
As I look back on the events that led me to Mozambique, I keep looking for my faults. There are some. One is that I could have taken more time to get my ducks in a row beforehand and not gone in so dead broke.
Even with that, I went for the job the same way I have other jobs. You get to know the people, get trained, get to know the area -once you’re there, not beforehand. I did my research. I googled the guy that offered me the job. I did some research into Mozambique.
I did not run willy-nilly through the wildflowers towards the great wilds of Africa without a care in the world. I checked it out. I was offered a job as an administrative assistant for a construction company, with room and board provided and a small, but for the area very good, monthly salary. I was told my visas would be covered by the company. The guy even gave me his full given name to look up. Everything seemed on the up and up.
Of course now I ask myself, why weren’t you more careful, why did you just believe him, why did you travel across the globe alone because some guy offered you a job?
Because the truth is, I was the same careful I was heading for Czech and Taiwan. I knew one person going in, I had not met before arriving. Turkey was a little different because I went with a friend. But I still went in with the idea that sure, there will be adjustments, but things will be ok.
Why do any of us believe it when we’re offered a job? Um, because it’s normal to.
I’ve travelled across the globe, alone, for jobs several times now. There was nothing heading in to this that was more abnormal than any other job you get from online contacts. Hindsight is the only reason I, or anyone, is asking these questions.
And this is the more prevalant form of victim blaming. Why did you/I do that? Why didn’t you/I do that? Why weren’t you/I more careful?
-This is IMPORTANT –
These questions put accusation on the victim, when it is the assailant/abuser that needs the questions!!
Why did he think it was ok to lure someone in, knowing full well that he didn’t own any company and couldn’t provide
any of the things he lied about? Why did he think it was ok to lie? Why wasn’t he more careful with this person
that trusted him? Why did he think it was ok to send off their passport so they couldn’t leave the island? Why does
he think it’s ok to verbally, physically, and situationally abuse the people around him? Why did he lock someone in
a room? Why did he assault that person? Why did he plan out the lies he would tell others about the assault, in
advance of the assault? Why does he think he shouldn’t have any consequences for his actions?
These are the real questions that need to be addressed.
If I keep asking all those victim blaming questions, I can’t grow and move forward. The questions I need to ask need to come from where I am, not where I was. Some of the questions I need to actually ask myself are: Do I feel like someone is going to attack me everywhere I go? Is travelling alone a bad idea? What can I learn from this situation? What do I want to do next? Am I really going to go back to Africa? To Mozambique? How can I do my part to protect others from the harm this guy is capable of?
I know that Spirit told me to go to Mozambique. I don’t even question that. One could ask why, seeing as how my entire time there was one frantic disaster after another, and I totally see that point. But I never felt and don’t feel that it was wrong to be there. I questioned the things that happened, but not that I wasn’t supposed to be there.
I believe there are two main reasons Spirit led me there.
One: I do have work to do there, I do need to go back for that work. But it is a harsh land, a harsh people, a harsh spiritual environment. I was under near constant spiritual attack while there. I was given a glimpse of what I need to gather before going back. I needed to experience, in order to understand what I need, so I can accomplish my work there.
Two: I believe that this man sensed my unguarded personality and preyed on it. However, unlike the average woman seen as vulnerable, I am a spiritually, emotionally strong woman. I am not weak just because I choose not to close myself off and present a guarded and leery woman to the world. I believe I was Spirit’s way to stop this man from preying on someone without my strength, and damaging another human being past a point they could deal with, or for many years, or both, or possible killing them. Am I ok with having gone through this in order to have protected someone else? You better believe it.
Do I think someone is going to attack me everywhere I go? No, by and large people are good. If I judged the world only by the harm that can be done, well, I’d never leave my room. Is travelling alone a bad idea? No. I’ve been doing it for a while. One out of hundreds of people I’ve met in my travels does not deter me. Do I need to be more careful than a guy travelling alone, yes. Sadly. Should it be that way? NO!
And when we start putting all the blame where it belongs, ie the abusers and assailants, and catcallers,
people who think that women are property, then women can start being safe just because they are a human being with
equal rights to safety, not because they’ve armed themselves enough.
Am I going back? Yes, I need to gather my resources in order to do it right, but yes, I will be going back. I have work to do there.
One big lesson I am learning is to let go of the emotional pain that comes when you feel betrayed. I had no emotional connection to the guy that assaulted me. But I had an emotional connection to the family that turned their backs on me and began flinging ridiculous accusations at me. Spirit will take care of me and them in whatever way it sees fit, and I have to let go of that feeling of betrayal. I am, but I’ve had a couple days of frustration over it.
Losing a trust is such a big deal to me. Partially because I know that others can trust me. Partially because I have witnessed time and time again, that when you give people trust, they become trustworthy, when you give them honor, they become honorable, and when you give them abasement, they become corrupt, etc.
I choose to see the best in people, give them the best of me, and believe that it will bring out the best in them. Nine times out of ten, that’s the case, so that one kinda hurts when it’s a “friend”.
I answered all the questions going in, to the best of my ability to without being able to see into the future. Sure, the same questions looking back will result in different answers, but we don’t live life in reverse. So I take my lessons, my insights, and my resolve into the future. A future in which I will travel, I will teach, I will not let fear get the better of me, and I will do my best to create positive change wherever I go.
Remember as you go through life and encounter similar situations, to ask yourself if the questions you are asking put accusation and blame on the victim in the situation, or on the aggresor/abuser, where it belongs. At no point, under no circumstance, no matter what they believe in, who they love, what they are wearing, drinking, etc., should anyone feel that violence or a crime against them is their fault. We have a basic human right to dignity and safety, period. No one has the right to violate, hold hostage, assault, or commit a crime against us for any reason. None, there are no reasons that are acceptable. No moments, no amount of alcohol or drugs or jealousy, or
anything, ever, for anyone. Ask the questions that support the victim: How can I help you? What do you need? When do you need me there?
I want to thank all of you for your wonderful support and kind kind words! I haven’t posted many of the comments that I’ve gotten, but know that I have read them and love you for them! Soon I’ll be back to posts that are less grave.
I have arrived in Albuquerque. I am home safe with my mama.
The craziness of Mozambique continued as two men attempted to mug me and take my purse as I walked back to the hostel from eating my last meal in Mozambique.
I discovered something interesting about myself in that moment. No matter what those two men said or did, I fought for my purse and my safety. I kicked and yelled and flagged down a passing motorcycle. I kept all but one shoe.
Why couldn’t I fight when my former friend assaulted me? I’m still working on that. Part of it was because I knew he would feel even more validated in hurting me if I had fought back. And part of me just couldn’t.
That is the part of me I am really struggling with and need to work through before I head back out into the world.
Mom and I are going to be doing a lot of energy work in the future for this.
When I had arrived in the US and was able to get internet again, I found that I had been tagged in a harsh victim blaming post by the husband of the couple that I have previously been thanking for their help-
Though I understand their desire for things to be like they were before all this happened, for the bliss of ignorance, their post really hurt me. All of the times I had asked them what I owed them had been met with “nothing, this is what friends do”. Telling them that my mom was sending money, they just needed to tell me how much, and they said none.
Now it is all being reneged because they don’t feel I should continue to press charges.
None of us had done much sleeping. All of us were trying to continue doing what we needed to because life goes on. But, I was slowly being outcasted by them. All the ways they were “helping” me, they began to see in a negative way, because I wasn’t dropping the charges.
My belief is that it’s because I was the reminder that things weren’t normal any more. I was the one living in their house, so I became the easy target for displacing all the frustrations of the situation.
The sad truth that seems to be missing in their argument, is that none of the need for their help would have been necessary had my “housemate” not been aggressive, abusive, and finally assaulted me.
None of my living with them, or need of translation help with the police, or any of the kindnesses they showed me would have been needed if it weren’t for his actions.
I didn’t do this. I didn’t ask for any of this. This is not my fault.
I desperately tried to be as little a burden on them as possible. I began eating as little as possible. I helped with the house and girls whenever they asked, and have still been met with this painful reminder that people will attack when your back is turned.
I can’t blame them. It’s human nature to want things to be “normal”. It’s normal for people to take the path of least resistance. I left, I’m not volatile. He’s still living there, they are still living there. I’m the least resistant path to displace the frustration.
Victim blaming is just as much a part of the abuser cycle as the abuse is. It’s what happens when those around don’t want to think about it anymore.
I just didn’t expect it from them, so it hurts more.
Please, all of you out there, don’t revictimize by displacing blame. It makes it so much harder to follow through. So much harder to fight the good fight when you feel isolated and alone.
So much easier for abusers to feel empowered.
Now I am being labeled as a “psycho” by them for continuing to believe that justice needs to be served. He’s not a psycho for having assaulted me, I am for pursuing charges. He doesn’t need consequences that will follow him so that others will be protected in the future. Because in their eyes, I should let it all go, on his word that he will get help. I am the one who behaved wrongly by continuing the process.
And he is taking all this in. Realizing he’s gotten away with it, for the time being, again. He is being empowered by their actions. And they don’t even realize it.
I surely wish that this will never happen to them or their daughters. I can only hope that no-one in their family goes through what I have, but if they do, I hope even more that their friends don’t do this to them afterward.
This is one of the worst parts of violence against women……
The first month of any class is the toughest. Creating routines, getting basic English words for keeping the class moving along as they learn new material, and learning English phonics.
It’s right around week 5 when I get to start seeing the little lightbulb moments as they recognize they’ve learned and can understand.
We’re just getting there in all my classes. This week I saw three little lightbulb moments. And this afternoon, as I was walking around the island, two little girls were walking down one of the side streets. They were quiet and walking hand in hand. They happened to look up and the one little girl , who is my student in the preschool class, opened her arms wide and ran to me, teacher Mari!! Without any hesitation she jumped in my arms and let me pick her up.
She gave me a beautiful hug and as I put her down, in her best new English she tried to introduce me to her friend and coached her in how to say, my name is…
The two girls and I parted with them smiling and happily laughing.
As I kept walking down the coast, I started hearing, teacher Mari, teacher Mari! I looked up further and a small group of my elementary age students were gathered and called me over. I was so happily surprised with how well they were using English to explain the game they were playing and show me off to their friends.
My evening adult class is a newer class, only two weeks, but they finally understood the pattern I’ve been teaching them this week and three of them right away started using other words they know in the same pattern!
It’s these moments that I teach for. These moments when they realize they know, they try to share, and they take it farther on their own.
I LOVE teaching. I LOVE it.
And it breaks my heart, shatters it, to have to leave right now, just as it’s getting better for them.
Why does such terrible circumstances have to stop this progress?! Who the fuck is this “nice guy” that everybody likes, that feels he has the right to keep me in a room against my will, and use ANY, let alone the amount of force, to make me listen to his drunken rants. Who still maintains that if I had just sat and listened instead of trying to reach the door, he wouldn’t have hurt me so bad.
And as he’s all nice and calm again, admits he has a disease,
Well gosh! I should just let it all go, what’s the problem? , he’s going to get help.
Yeah. The fucking problem is that is a TRIED AND PROVEN PATTERN OF ABUSERS.
Diagnosing a disease doesn’t change the fact that abusers pick and choose, are in full awareness, and know how to look remorseful, and put on enough charm to get away with it. They use time to make it feel like it wasn’t that bad. And they use their friendships to make it look like the victim is making too big of a deal out of it.
Tried and true classic pattern.
And the heartbreaking reality is that it doesn’t just affect me. The bruises are gone, I can almost put my backpack on, get dressed, or scratch my own back again without my shoulders hurting. My wrists still hurt but you can’t see anything wrong. People don’t look at me and flinch, or ask how I am. Time is passing. But it’s a time bomb, and I know that.
A time bomb that I can’t be here to see go off.
The bomb may not go off here, if I leave. So in order to protect those that are helping me right now, I’m leaving here.
BUT THAT TIME BOMB WILL GO OFF SOMEWHERE IF LEFT UNCHECKED
I can’t leave that bomb unchecked. I will pursue the trial and whatever else is necessary to put checks and balances in place to ensure I’ve done my part.
Abusers don’t stop. They don’t get talked out of being abusers by the people around them.
The charming person isn’t who they are, it’s their cover up and protection against consequences. The charming side makes sure people, “can’t believe it” could be something the abuser would do.
This was a thought out act of violence. And because of it, my students will suffer. My work here will be paused for who knows how long. These children don’t know what happened, all THEY will know is that I left. The adults have just another person who comes to help and leaves.
The heartbreaking reality is that it’s not just me that got hurt. But it’s me that will be doing the hurting of leaving.
And that sucks so much.
These tears fall with conviction. If education is my target, let violence be my arrow, and awareness be my breath.
I’m the happiest teacher right now!
My elementary school class (1st day in week 4 of classes) greeted me with, good afternoon teacher, as I walked in the door.
They said the whole ‘today is Tuesday’, sentence the first time I asked what day it is. They all answered, ‘how are you’ with a variety of replies in full sentences.
Then we went over who, where, and what. I read them the wonderful book my beautiful daughter gave me for mothers day, and asked them those questions. After only,5-6 tries they were answering correctly!
I’m in teacher bliss right now….. Aaaaaaah
A little bit of my life here on Ilha. This is my local super market. You’ll notice the large array of items to choose from does not include any Mari safe chocolate…. I’m taking any forms of said safe chocolate at the address given previously. Preferred forms include dove and lindt, but I’ll take anything dark.
Some local day to day meanderings.
And now for some pics from my morning at the little island fort.
My first classroom. Teaching for a construction company means they’ll build as we go! Pretty 😎 cool .
Getting prepped and excited for starting my first full week next week!
My Address for any one wanting it, for the time being is…
Escondidinho, Ilha de Mozambique,
Province of Nampula, 25
I’m off to go make visual aids and manipulatives for my restaurant class.
Love to you all! Especially my kidittos!!!