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Showing posts from November, 2009

Just holes in the roof

That's not exactly what I want to hear during the rainy season.
I was cleaning up in the guest bathroom yesterday when I saw a patch of sun on the wall that I'd never noticed before. Between the unusually brilliant sunshine, a series of open doors and curtains, and two hanging mirrors between the front door and the bathroom I thought it wasn't impossible that the sun was coming in through the front door and somehow being reflected on the bathroom wall. 
Out of curiosity I tried tracing the beam of light from the wall back to the door. As many curtains and doors as I closed and as many overhead lights as I turned off, I couldn't make the patch of light disappear. When Mike walked by after a few minutes of my fruitless investigation I asked him if he thought he knew where the patch of light was coming from. 
"Holes in the roof. I didn't mention it sooner because it hasn't started raining in through the ceiling yet."
I looked up to the bathroom ceiling, and …

Turkey Update

You may recall that I've been having some trouble getting turkeys into the country. It is now about 6:00 in the morning on Thanksgiving and the turkeys are not here. By the time the flight gets in this afternoon, if the shipment is even on it (yesterday they somehow got left behind on their layover), they'll be too late for today's dinner. 
We'll be having a big roast chicken dinner today and there will be plenty of turkeys in the freezer for Christmas next month.

More than one person back in the States has said something along the lines of "It's Africa, why can't you roast an ostrich or some other big bird?" The answer is we don't have those in Burundi. We have chickens. All other birds have to be imported, and expensively. I did find some frozen turkey on the local market yesterday, imported from France. They cost nearly $100 for a six-pound bird. 
Even by Africa standards, we don't have a lot of variety in our consumer goods here. And we have …

Sunday Fail

The day started with all sorts of promise. I miraculously felt fine after staying up later than usual with good food, good wine, and good friends. I made some good coffee and started the laundry with 30 cloth napkins. The napkins are part of my festive touch for the table setting on Thanksgiving. They've been sitting in a box for over a year so I thought they could use a wash, dry, and iron.
While the napkins were in the washing machine I went to my boss's house to go over a few details for Thursday. I'm happy to report that we've found a convenient, monkey-free location for the buffet table. 
When I returned home I put the napkins in the dryer, did yoga for about 30 minutes, then was so relaxed I fell asleep for nearly an hour. When I woke up from my nap, my head was in a good place regarding Thursday's event. By now, everyone is laughing over the fate of the turkeys, agreeing that we can roast a half dozen local chickens if the turkeys don't arrive in time. 
I g…

Can Turkeys Fly?

I’m in charge of organizing Thanksgiving dinner for the Americans in my office. I’m not a huge Thanksgiving fan, but events planning is part of my job, so I’m thinking of it as another notch on my list of overseas work experience: Bringing frozen turkeys into the heart of darkness.
After some research, it seemed like the best bet was to use a South African import company that we’ve used for food shipments in the past. I emailed my contact and he said frozen turkeys would be no problem. And would we like any cranberry sauce, potatoes, or pumpkin pie filling to go with them? Everyone said, “Yes!” (Except me. I ordered some South African wines—my contribution to the party—and some other yummy cheeses and meats for personal consumption.)
I collected turkey orders from my American colleagues and my South African contact collected turkeys. He’s familiar with American Thanksgiving and knows the pressure is just as much on him as on me to get it right. Americans will not be refused their perfec…

I just sneezed all over this blog post

I refuse to believe the flu vaccine gave me the flu. Mike and I got the live vaccine, the nasal spray (yuck!), because there's a shortage of the killed vaccine shot here, and we are young, healthy adults who can handle it. I expected mild side effects; I always get them when they are there to be had. But I didn't expect that after a weekend of mostly sleeping, I'd start feeling worse every day instead of better. 
To be accurate, I don't have a full-blown flu. I have mild precursors. I'm annoyed that resting, drinking tea, and taking vitamins hasn't healed me yet. This morning I woke up feeling the worst I have in days, with a headache, achy neck and shoulders, and a sore throat. I'm not quite sick enough to stay home, but just sick enough to be mildly uncomfortable at work.
If we stayed home from work every time we felt even mildly sick, as we are constantly informed we should be doing to prevent spreading germs, we'd never get any work done. We have cycl…

That's Tollywood, not Bollywood

We found out Mike's next assignment. We are headed to the site of India's second-largest film industry, yet the home of the largest physical film studio in the world. It's the home of the largest snow park in Asia and one of the largest zoos in Asia. It's a burgeoning IT capital. 
It's also a city that's more than 400 years old and the region is known for biryani rice dishes. 
It's Hyderabad! We are very excited. 
But it will be a few months before we leave here, so we suddenly have to do all the things we meant to do here but haven't gotten around to yet. It's going to be a busy few months.

Newsflash: The Sun Is Strong on the Equator

When I went to bed on Sunday night I noticed my shoulders were sore. I hadn't done anything with them to warrant soreness, no lifting of weights or wearing of heavy packs. I fell asleep and forgot about it until the next morning. The next morning my shoulders and the back of my neck were bright red. Like lobster shoulders. I'd worn a t-shirt all day Sunday. I could see the lines on my shoulder from the tank top I'd worn on Saturday. 
Saturday was the day of the Marine Corps Ball. I was at the tent most of the day helping the Marines set up. I made a conscious effort to stay under the tent all day. The only time I was out from under the tent was the seven minutes I spent walking between my house and the tent. That's how strong the sun is here on the equator and that's how sensitive my skin is.
I must have taken idiot pills instead of my vitamin on Saturday morning. Why didn't I put on sunblock? I've lived here for over a year with absolutely no sunbur…

Halloween with Some Local Legends

We actually had Halloween last weekend, because last night was the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Two entirely different kinds of dressing up.
For last weekend's party, Mike and I went as two local legends: If you've been paying attention recently, you can probably guess.

Gustave and Patrice Faye!
I have awesome skills with cardboard and green paint.