One day Rachel tells me where she is staying. It’s a fifteen-minute walk from Mr. Aguda’s house. I sit next to her whenever I can. She doesn’t seem to mind. Slowly I come to know a bit about her family.
“Dad’s a professor of American history and Mom’s an elementary school teacher. I miss them,” she says.
“Do you write them often?” I ask.
“When I find time. It takes almost a month to get their response.”
“Yeah. I wish there was a faster way to communicate. Making an international call is such a hassle.”
“I know what you mean,”
She doesn’t ask me about my family. I want to take her out somewhere but am not familiar with the town.
“What’s a good place to visit around here?” I ask Mr. Aguda one evening. We were already in the second month of our three-month training.
“What do you have in mind?” he asks.
“Nothing in particular. It’s just that I was thinking of taking a girl in our class to an interesting place. We could get to see more of the town and learn about the culture.”
“You’ve a girlfriend already?” he asks after a pause.
“We’re just friends.”
“I understand,” he says. “Our town’s not very big. There’s the Old Town, and there’s the City Center. The City Center is mostly offices and embassies. I think you’ll like the Old Town with its market. There’s shopping, small stores, restaurants. It’s a busy place. I heard you playing your guitar. You’ll like the Malawian music. I should warn you about pickpockets, however. You don’t look like us. You need to be extra careful.”
“Thanks, Mr. Aguda,” I say.
“And, please don’t walk the streets after dark.”
“Yes. We were warned about that. Thank you again.”