Friday, October 30, 2009

Five years ago today...

I was doing this:

And I'm so glad I did. I'm pretty sure they're the best five years of my life.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crawling out of my hole

This last week sucked. Big time. It started with a few hours of aches and illness Thursday. Friday afternoon, the fever hit. Then came the barrage of every symptom of every tropical illness ever thought of, except Ebola. Where do I start?

Chest pain
Shortness of breath
Sore throat
And then, the worst – the headache to end all headaches. Even codeine only dulled it a bit. I thought my head was going to explode.

So I pretty much spent the entire weekend in bed, making it out for a few hours each evening. And this was really bad timing, because we had a really close friend visiting, and for once I actually was invited to a few social functions that didn’t involve bubble machines and jumpy castles.

Four doctor’s visits and 4 malaria tests later, I was diagnosed with a bacterial infection. Oh, thank God for antibiotics. I’m back at work today, finally, just trying to claw out of the huge pile of work that is building up. Which means this is going to be a short post. Because I am going back to work now. Bye.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lake weekend

Hi everyone! I'm back from a much-needed mini-vacation. Some friends let us borrow their little cottage by Lake Malawi in Senga Bay over the weekend. Last Thursday was a holiday (Mother's Day - you have to love Africans for their veneration of the mother - the whole country gets the day off to pamper or be pampered, depending on their maternal status. Myself, I was a Pamperee. Jorge and Milo were the Pampers. Er, Pamperers.)I took Friday off and we made a nice long weekend out of it.

Apart from the first night, when the housekeeper didn't set up a mosquito net for us and I got eaten alive (please oh please don't let me get malaria!!) and Milo screamed all night long, a nice time was had by all. Milo enjoyed swimming in the lake, I got to read a bit, and Jorge made some use of his favorite hammock. Not too shabby, eh?

Is it a little strange that one of the things I was most looking forward to was cooking for my family? We are so spoiled with Godfrey cooking for us, or at least prepping the meals, most nights, that it was kind of exciting for me to get to do all the work for a change. It was like I was slumming it with the common folks for a few days there. Happy to be back in my little marble palace, though.

Will try to post some photos later tonight, if I can remember!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

High Maintenance

So the other day I was driving to a friend’s house, Milo nestled into his carseat in the back. On Sunday, the roads in Lilongwe are pretty empty, so I was anticipating a short trip to the other side of town.

Instead, I got stuck in convoy traffic. Basically, convoy traffic is when the police close off all the roads that the President is going to travel on. In Lilongwe, there aren’t very many main roads, so you have a pretty good chance of getting caught in one of these jams every few months or so. You can tell that convoy traffic is going to happen sometime soon, because the city erects big white flagpoles, topped by the Malawian flag, around all the roundabouts on the roads. If you’re unfortunate enough to get stuck in convoy traffic, you will sit on the road for about 15-20 minutes, with impatient drivers occasionally driving up the sidewalks, only to get stopped again by the police once they get to the closest intersection. You might as well relax, turn the engine off, and try to get something done (thank goodness I had tweezers in my bag – my eyebrows were a bit of a mess, after all).

Finally, a virtual Macy’s Day Parade of police cars, black SUVs, and motorcycles whizzes past, sirens and lights a-blaring, and then you can get back on with your day. I counted 14 cars and at least as many motorcycles.

So I thought this was a fairly uncommon occurrence, reserved for official state visits and such, but I asked a friend who works at the embassy and she told me that no – EVERY time the President leaves his house, this is how he travels! Sheesh, talk about high maintenance! Is that how it is in the U.S., too? Isn’t that a little, you know, conspicuous?

And think of how long it would take to get your whole entourage organized every time you just wanted to pop round to the store for something? (“Sorry, Mr. President, you can’t go to dinner tonight – we haven’t erected the flagpoles”!) It’s hard enough getting me, Jorge, and Milo out of the house on time in the mornings. I swear, if I were president, I think I’d only leave my house about once a month. Crazy! I’m hoping my friend is wrong, because the whole logistics of it just boggles my mind.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Artistic tendencies

So, time for a weekend update. This last one just flew by. I got to work on Monday feeling like I never had a break at all.

It was a full weekend. On Saturday we went to a friend's beautiful home for breakfast, where Milo splashed in the pool and chased chickens. In the afternoon we drove out to the village to visit our housekeeper Godfrey and his family. Milo is a total celebrity in the village. He just smiles and waves to the crowds of adoring women and children, while they fight over who gets to hold him next. I think it's beginning to go to his head, really.

Our babysitter came back with us, and Jorge and I went out on a much-needed date alone. We went to the one Ethiopian restaurant in town, my favorite, and then after that went to the newly opened "jazz club" for a musical performance by a world music duo from France. It was a really lovely night out, and I looked forward to more nice dates with live music, until I found out that the "jazz club's" owner is only going to have live music once every 2 months (to keep the excitement and interest up, you know.) This led me to speculate that I should call my house a restaurant and start charging people. After all, I cook dinner for others at least once every two months. Seriously, only in Lilongwe. Also, did I mention that pretty much EVERYone I know was also at the concert? Not much new happens here in Malawi, that's all I have to say.

Then on Sunday we went to church, and decided to stick around for the picnic afterwards, even though this meant Milo would have a late nap. Whoa, big mistake. Milo got home, slept for thirty minutes, then wanted to party. We left him in his room a bit, hoping he'd go back to sleep. Instead, he took off his diaper, took a crap on the bed, and proceeded to fingerpaint.

(Just an aside here - when I was pregnant, I said once that it is really never OK to talk about your kid's bowel movements in regular conversation. Seriously, no one wants to know how many times your kid poops (or doesn't poop) in a day. But I am making an exception in this case, as the circumstances are rather extreme. I promise, I will try not to let it happen again.)

Needless to say, it was kind of a mess. I spent my Sunday afternoon cleaning the crib, the sheets, the stuffed animals, the boy, the floor, the mosquito netting...Ah, the joys of motherhood.

And also, Milo now has a new nickname in our house: Poopy Pollock.