I was to wake up at 6:30am today to be ready to leave early for meetings. My alarm clock did not go off. I woke up much later when the local consultant was banging on my door. Such a fail - almost late! I ate breakfast in a rush. We drove for hours to get to our first meeting.
Our first meeting was rough! The sun was hot and the interviewee had the most soothing voice I have ever heard in my life. The head of the teachers' association had tagged along with us for meetings that day - the nice old fiery guy. Quarter way through the interview he fell asleep. The local consultant had discovered there was wifi in this particular school we were at - which was surprising to me too. We were in a very remote area but the wifi was perfect. He spent the rest of the interview on his phone. I was so irritated but didn't know what to do. I needed him to ask the questions - which he did - but he would immediately go back to his phone - which was both rude....and frustrating for me - as it meant I was left to my own defenses to understand the responses.
After this meeting, we had a three hour drive to the next meeting. The views were stunning but I began to worry how much work we were actually going to get done in my 2 weeks in Comoros - if the distances between my meetings were so long. This second meeting was only attended by the local consultant and myself. After the meeting, once we were walking out of the building to our ride he tried to hold my hand and walk hand in hand. I was so creeped out. I just quietly pulled my hand away, but didn't say anything. In retrospect I realize this is where I should have given him a piece of my mind, but I kept on justifying his actions to myself. "Well, it was just a hug and now he's trying to hold your hand. Maybe it's the culture here?" Now I realize, if something makes you uncomfortable, it makes you uncomfortable and you don't need to go through it without speaking your mind, "to avoid problems." No one should make you uncomfortable and if they do, you should let them know.
This was a Friday and work hours in Comoros are 8am - noon on Fridays then 3-5pm - so it turned out we really hadn't wasted time going from place to place. We would not have been able to have meetings either way.
We get back to the hotel and have a delicious snack of hot milk with cardamon and something else I don't recognize, but find quite delicious. I decide to take a walk on the beach around sunset. Shortly after - he arrives. He asks if I want a picture of myself on the beach. I gladly accept - only to remember immediately after, that this might become another awkward moment. I find it hard to pose as I normally would - because now the person behind the camera/phone is looking at me with a bit too much excitement. He insists on taking the pictures with his phone and whatsapping them to me whenever we find wifi....even though my phone has a waaaaay better camera. When I go to look at the pictures on his phone, he tells me something that I don't quite understand but bit by bit I realize he is telling me, "You have a great figure - not too fat, not too skinny."
I go to bed later that night wondering how some men have the ability to make you feel dirty simply by looking at you.