19 December 2009

The Time We Forgot Christmas

That would be this year. Obviously we know Christmas is in a few days, but it's way too late to get any gifts sent out from Burundi to Rhode Island to arrive in time. We didn't even think about getting gifts for ourselves! With Mike's family visiting we were too preoccupied to think of presents. And since it's no where near cold here (twinge of jealousy for the snowy day in the Northeast today), and there just aren't too many advertisements, there aren't any seasonal or commercial clues to remind you to get ready for the holiday. 

Again we are treeless this year. I can't stand fake trees, and the only ones you can get here are really, really fake. Real pine trees are rare, but I've spotted a few. However, the ministry of the environment forbids them to be cut down. I have a small "Christmas area" set up with some faux pine branches that don't look too bad, some lights that I bought in town last year, and my Burundian and Mexican creches. I'm not religious, but I was raised Catholic and I've always liked nativity scenes.

Mike's working today so I'm spending the day watching all the Christmas movies that he doesn't like. It seems more obligatory than celebratory though.

I think on Christmas Day we're going to blast the air conditioner and make hot chocolate. 

10 December 2009

This is the place to be

My article on Bujumbura has been published! I'm very excited to finally see it in print after working on it for months. Some of the photos were taken by Mike and me, too.

Go to State Magazine and click on the December 2009 issue to download the PDF. Then go to page 24 and start reading all about Bujumbura.

It's been a long time since I've seen my name in print. I kinda like this feeling.

09 December 2009

Quiet Time

I was thinking of going running this morning but when I woke up, and no one else was awake, I decided to indulge in quiet-time morning activities like drinking coffee and watching CNN sans commentary. We have family visiting us here and while I think everyone's having a good time, this country is starting to feel small.

It's been fun showing off Africa to people who have never been here before, people who have only heard our stories and seen our photos. We started in Nairobi, which to us is the big city. While we marveled over bookstores--with English-language books even!--and elevators and coffeeshops, others worried about pushy craft and safari vendors and overpriced taxis. I impressed all with my bargaining skills at a market. I'd seen something in a shop for 6,500 shillings (about $85), and at this little craft market the vendor opened negotiations with a bargain price of 6,000. I talked him down to 2,000 (about $25). I probably still overpaid, but at least I played the game and didn't overpay too grossly. It was something I really wanted and the only souvenir I bought on the whole trip. And it gave Mike's mom a good story to tell her friends back home.

Now we're at our home in Buj hoping that when folks say they really do enjoy all the doing of nothing that gets done around here, they mean it.

Chapter Six: The Shoemaker: A Tale of Two Cities with Women

For background on the project and to see all the chapters at once, go to the tag A Tale of Two Cities Project . Chapter Six: The Shoemak...