Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Milo's first haircut

Milo was born a bit of a baldy. Well, actually, he was born with hair, then two weeks later most of it fell out, leaving just a Michael Bolton-esque fringe around his neck.

This was disturbing to his Colombian family - where is his hair? why doesn't it grow in? what is wrong with this boy? After all, your typical Colombian child bounces out of the womb, cushioned by a glorious afro of thick black hair.

No, Milo got my hair. Thin, light-colored, and nary a kink or a curl. We put off cutting his hair for such a long time, because it seemed sort of pointless to go to the trouble just to remove a few errant wisps from around his ears.

While we were in New Orleans, we thought it would be fun to go someplace nice and have it cut. So Jorge went to Aidan Gill, an upscale men's barber, to ask if they cut children's hair.

Yes, indeed, they do. In fact, they have a special 'first haircut' package for babies. Jorge asked how much it cost. And then stood there, dumbfounded for a few minutes, jaw literally dropping: $500 dollars. Yes, you read that right. 5 big'uns. Or maybe it was even more than that, I can't fully remember. The haircut comes with a framed print by a professional photographer. They had samples of the photos, some 30 of them, in the salon. Jorge couldn't speak for a while because he was too busy counting the pictures and trying to figure out what kind of sucker would spend that much for a picture of a child being groomed.

That was before Milo went to Colombia. By the time he got back, he was getting a bit of a mullet. I suspect Dora, my mother-in-law, was putting the same nasty herbal tonic on his head that she tried to get me to use after my hair fell out from chemo. Jorge did say that Milo smelled kind of funny. So we finally took him to get his hair cut on Saturday, at the same barber shop Jorge goes to. Milo was very well-behaved, I got some photos, and the whole thing set us back 300 Kwacha - about 2 dollars.

Before the haircut. Milo liked getting sprayed with water.

Although Milo was very good overall, he wanted to look around. The barber resorted to this vise grip to get him to hold still. I love Africa!

And here's the finished product! Isn't my boy handsome?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

News in small, digestible chunks

Here are today's tidbits:

  • I'm sick
  • I'm working way too much
  • I might get to go to Scotland for work in a couple months!
  • I feel guilty for being away from my family so much of the time
  • In the past week, we hosted the Saturday run (and breakfast), hosted the weekly Hash, and tonight I'm cooking dinner for 6 co-workers. Sunday is Gumbo night for friends. We do too much.
  • I lost my cell phone
  • I can't remember my own husband's phone number to call and ask for a ride
  • Milo is on a food strike
  • But he knows his feet, gives plenty of kisses, and enjoys dancing to reggaeton.
  • I haven't photographed my son in almost 6 weeks. But for Auntie Miriam, here is a picture from when we were in New Orleans:

For those of you who are wondering, here is the account of how I finally resolved my money dilemma, taken from an e-mail to my dad:

I did end up managing, but it was a hellish day. First, I made an hour-long
walk to the other ATM I knew of. It also would not take my card. So I called
Jorge (who hadn't been home before) to get my account number and I went into the
branch to try to do a withdrawal. But they wouldn't allow me to withdraw from
a checking account without an actual check.

The teller directed me to another nearby branch. I walked there. The branch was closed. I walked further toward another bank. Each Malawian I asked told me "no, it's not far." but Malawians are not very good at giving directions, so I got lost. Finally I called a taxi, which I couldn't pay for, but I was being hopeful. He drove me to ANOTHER bank, one with the other banks had told me would take my card. They were wrong. Finally, I threw myself on the mercy of their customer service rep, who took pity on me and allowed me to make a withdrawal from my checking account. I mean, really, couldn't they have done that in the first place?

All in all, I walked for 3 hours. My poor feet.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I know, I know

So I have had several complaints about my lack of blogging of late. Honestly, I just don't have the time these days. In the last month I spent a week in Dowa district, 3 days in our Lilongwe project office, traveled up to Nkhotakota, and am now spending a week in Blantyre. In between that I thre a going-away dinner for a friend (meaning my whole weekend was taken up with cooking, and am still trying to occasionally spend time with my son and husband. I'm wiped out.

Also, to add to the bad news - our bank changed it's ATM cards. While some ATMs still took the old card in Lilongwe, the central bank here in Blantyre doesn't. So I can't get money, and I'm running low. I'm planning to take a looooong walk to another ATM after leaving this internet cafe, I sure hope they take the cards there, otherwise I am screwed.

Interesting morning though - I had breakfast with two majors from the Zimbabwe army! How many people do you know who can say that? There is a whole contingent of officers staying at my hotel - they are studing at the military college in Zimbabwe and are doing a study tour in Malawi. One of the men tried to bait me into a discussion of U.S. foreign policy, but I wasn't going for it, and switched the topic to their own country. It was interesting to hear their perspective on the situation in Zimbabwe (which they assured me is really fine now. I remain skeptical) and their thoughts in Malawi.

And then the Major asked me out dancing . That hasn't happened in a long time. I told him I am too old and too married for the nightclub scene (not exactly true, but I've always found that the modest, prudish response is usually the most effective in deterring would-be African suitors. As in "Excure me, but in MY country, men just don't talk to women like that!" Hahaha.)

Well, I'm running low on cash, so I guess I best start walking now.