Will You Be My Mule?
But for an ex-pat, none of these animals are as magnificent, or as valuable, as a mule.
Actually, I'm sitting here in my dining/living room waiting on the arrival of my very first mule. Jane. Jane, one of my best-est friends, and former colleagues, in on her way to Tanzania and arrives tonight with refills... bras, Dora the Explorer and Elmo DVDs ,and Pria Bars.
I asked her to bring a box of diapers but she said "no". I'm trying to understand.
For 13 years I have asked my colleagues in the field if they needed me to bring them anything when I was planning a trip to their country - always with my fingers crossed that they would say, "No, I can find everything I need right here in Haiti/Rwanda/Mali (etc)." Or it would be A-OK with me if they asked for something simple and light - like a book of stamps. I admit it. I asked because it was expected of me. But I cursed the heavy bags I was then asked to carry. I cursed them all...
Over the years I've been asked to carry cash (over $10,000), giant bags of popped popcorn, New Yorkers, STD specimens, New York Times magazine sections, tampons, underwear, nail clippers, balloons, Mardi Gras beads, light bulbs, and most recently - a lawn mower.
I cursed my friends and colleagues, but I did it anyway. All while at the same time telling US-based friends that I just didn't understand how colleague X couldn't live without her copy of The Red Tent. For godsake, why'd X move to Africa in the first place if she couldn't survive without Amazon.com?
But of course I take it all back now. My friends and colleagues, I'm begging you to consider me as you plan your next trip to Tanzania. I'll try not to ask for a lawn mower. But I might ask you to consider stuffing a box of Huggies Overnights into the crevices of your $300 suitcase. And I'm hoping to prove to you that the mitzvah of being a mule for a friend in Tanzania will be rewarded a thousand times over when it is your turn to move.