Sunday, June 15, 2008

Side Trip

Todd was certain I was going to be arrested for taking photos
at the airport but I had to try. I still find it so hysterical that
at the International Airport you have to walk out to meet your
plane - usually you have to account for your bags before you board as well!

So...a little bit more than the 'artist inside' was wanting out! My acutal insides decided they wanted in on the action - they wanted out too! But the fine surgeons at the Rosebank Hospital in Johannesbur showed them a thing or two.

The guys, headed to the tarmac

In case you are feeling like you missed something, we hopped down to South Africa recently so I could have surgery - repairing a femoral hernia. It was not an awful lot of fun but it went very well - from the med-evac, to the whole family being stuck in a hotel in a suburb of Johannesburg for nearly a week, and now Todd's travel and me trying to take it easy with two small boys literally climbing all over me.
Despite appearances, Finny did MUCH better
on this flight. Instead of "I want to go to Nana's house!!
NO FLY!" he was shouting "See?! See?! I not scared!"

We didn't see much of South Africa beyond a 10 block radius of the hospital/hotel but it was very disorienting: tree-lined cobblestone streets, new BMWs zipping orderly through intersections with functioning traffic lights, great cafes and bookstores (including the 'Seattle Coffee Company' which is both a cafe and a bookstore), ridiculous shopping, and really nice friendly people. Not the Johannesburg you hear about. We walked everywere except for the kids' visit to the zoo which was about 5km down the road - for that we flagged down a local mini-bus (with the help of one of the hotel porters) and piled in.

Owen in Rosebank

The boys were very popular in Jo'burg and many people came to know them over our short stay. Finn for his shy smile and sweet blue eyes peeking through his floppy mop and Owen for unique sense of style?.....we generally walked the same route to and fro every day and he wore the same outfit 4 days in a row- his favorite size 3T shorts and his 'michael owen' england football jersey. (The photos were from day 5 when he was forced to change b/c his clothes were washed but not yet dry) Lots of shouts his way "hey, Owen!" and hugs from cheeky shop keepers. What fun.

Owen at Caffe Vida - a portuguese-based coffe company -

they use belgian chocolate in their mochas and hot chocolate.

One of the funniest parts of the experience was they hysterical laughter from all the nurses ("sisters") and the security guards when I had to 'inventory' my valuables before I was wheeled away to who knows where. I had 75,000 kwacha crammed in my wallet (about $35) and they could not get over how much cash I had to carry around and the ridiculous math we had to do just to go to the grocery store. (Right now there are about 8 Rand to the dollar and about 3,300 Zambian Kwacha.) It beats Zimbabwe where you need 50 million zim dollars to buy a single egg....

Some photos from our trip to the zoo:

(above) We took this photo for Hank...

(below) the zoo has three 'prides' of lions - really fat healthy looking ones

(below) and of course crocs

the mariboo stork - todd says this one is quite handsome compared with the ones he remembers from the rubbish piles around Nairobi...and (below) Flamingos.

The artist inside said LET ME OUT!

What does a 'trailing spouse' do when they are not reading up on laprascopy procedures or downloading ringtones from

Some more painting projects:

The kids wanted a 'safari' theme room - this 7 ft. long elephant painting is 'phase 1'

The inspiration for this motif is "three cups of tea."

The "Hibicsus Room"

After this one (above) I swore off any caffeine after dinner. The opposite wall is going to be RED with some detail up top. I am resiting painting the whole wall until we get some furniture because I can't remember what 'reds' I have in the 'nip-mint'.

"Click" at the bathroomlight switch.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

While waiting

I was so clever to include my paintbrushes in our little air shipment. I have been busy at our house and a few other homes as well...Here is our friend "Click" leading you upstairs.

Year One Assembly

Last Friday, Mrs. Bentley led her Year One students (5-7 year olds) to a successful showing at the primary school assembly. The kids performed a song with silly lyrics they made up, read and acted out a book from the "Oxford Learning Tree" series and read a book that they wrote and illustrated based on familiar characters from their nightly reading assignments. Mrs. Bentley is saying good bye to teaching for a bit as she takes some time off to join her husband's company doing commercial photography. Quite a talented lot, those Bentleys!

Primary students meet for assemblies in the covered play area opposite the Admin. building. Owen wasn't a bit shy about reading his bit in front of all these students! Wow!

Primary Principal Mr. Matthias, Master of Ceremonies for the year 1 assembly. Mr. Matthais is leaving LICS after this school term to start up a NEW primary school in Lusaka! The Head Mistress is also leaving LICS after 4 years in Zambia - off to head an international school in Dubai.

The Main Admin. Building for the Lusaka International Community School. On school days there are mobs of children playing on this lawn.

In the pantry

Lusaka is the capital of Zambia. It's a modern city, albeit a modern African city. In the capital most normal goods and some specialty items are easily available (for a price). We've had fun sorting out what we can find some days (vanilla beans! salt-packed capers! tahini! flax seed!) and what we cannot (american-style brown sugar, unsalted butter, decaf anything) and what we can do without (pecans, paper towels, imported tea) and what goes in the cart no matter what the price (unapologetically, NUTELLA!). I initially balked at the price of liquid hand soap here but broke down and bought some, imported from Italy, and it is really lovely soap, worth every kwacha! In-season fruits and veggies are plentiful and available from the supermarkets (Melissa, Spar, Shoprite) , from farm-produce shops (BizzieBee, Kachelo) or along the side of the road (good for piles of tomatoes, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and what ever is 'in season').

There is a strange phenomenon of goods being fully stocked on the shelves one day and then..
'poof' they are gone and one never knows if they will appear again. This leads to a little hoarding habit among expats. One month is was butter that went mysteriously missing (b/c of an outbreak of hoof and mouth), the next, sugar (b/c of a nationwhide sugar shortage). For a while I couldn't find a single set of measuring spoons and now I cannot find a leaf rake for any price. I also had a really really hard time tracking down any baking soda - it took me a good month of looking every time I went to the store (many different stores) to get some just as we ran out.

Since I first wrote this...nutella has been the latest casualty. I cannot find it anywhere for any price. tragedy. But decaf coffee showed up once and I saw some 'caramel sugar' which is as close to brown sugar as we're going to get.

And I still find it odd that chocolate chips haven't caught on anywhere besides the US.

Here is a collection of some things from our pantry - or 'larder' if you prefer...

"Melissa" is a Lebonese-owned shp and has interesting imported goods like this - tahini!

Don't let the lable fool you. It's not brown sugar as you know it, although it IS brown. In Seattle I usually bought 'raw' sugar - as far as I can tell that is what this is. It is for several reasons illegal to import sugar into Zambia. One reason is that Zambia fortifies it's sugar with Vitamin A and imported sugar is not fortified. The border is a bit pourous and I think if we live by Malawi you can probably get other sugar and certainly un-fortified sugar (gasp!)

There are many Indians living in Zambia and one can get spices easily at the supermarket or in specialty shops.

Zambia produces such things as Macademia Nuts! Yum!

Another deceiving lable. It says it is bacon, which is a step up from "macon" (which I can't figure out, paloney either...) but, alas, it is no Hemplers. There is a Zambian, Swiss-trained butcher (the brother-in-law of one of Todd's colleagues) who does a lovely Westfalia Ham and who sometimes stocks ;ocal unsalted Zambian butter at a good price- this was a great discovery! This beats the 48,000 kwacha I spent for salted butter imported from Ireland during the butter crisis....

Owen gets one of these cookies with his school lunch every day!

Would you have guessed in a billion years that in this little bag is exactly 2 cups of buttermilk?

Safari Polo Cross

Here is a 'cultural event' I did not think I would witness in Zambia - Safari Polocross!

The tournament has been running for 16 years - local teams invite international players (this year from South Africa and from India) and folks at all levels play - even kids!
Very briefly, each team plays with 4 players (including one foreign player). They play on a field 300yards x 200 yards with a solid plastic (hard foam) weighing 100 grams - just bigger than a softball. Players hold mallets in their right hands and strike the ball with the side of the mallet head. A match consists of 4-6 'chukkas' (depending on how many horses there are available); each chukka is 7 minutes. A horse is usually allowed to play up to 2 chukkas but rarely plays more than one. The object is to put the ball through the posts at each end of the field. There used to be height restrictions on horses (hence the term polo ponies) but now no such restrictions exist - most are 15-16 hands high. In Africa, the vast majority of horses are thoroughbreds coming from race tracks in SA or Zimbabwe. (Zimbabwe's political situation is bringing some interesting changes in the availability of better horses in Zambia - a strange side story to the upheaval there.) There are many rules about 'right of way' about 'challenges' and 'bumping' and pentalties for fouls but no 'offsides' or 'corners.'

Horses are a big part of expat life here and I have to say there is nothing cuter than our new little 4 year old friend in her riding pants, boots and purple helmet - maybe her 3 year old brother in HIS outfit and spider-man helmet?! Owen has been lucky to go to several horse shows to watch his 10 year old crush ride and of course now has seen polo up close and personal; he has yet to get up the nerve to be anything but a spectator. Whew.

The kids were content to sit and watch an entire match between the "Holiday Inn" team and the "Global Logistics" team. The photots from that match (HI 5, GL2). More on "Global Logistics" later...


Owen has already written about our game drive at Chaminuka Lodge and Nature Reserve (site of the infamous 'yion' incident) but I've got some photos from the day we well. What I wanted was a snap of us on the truck with Owen's gleeful face as he got to stand up with no seatbelt (again) and another of Finny crawling all over me while I somehow photographed the giraffe. It was a great little escape. The lodge has a beautiful website if you are interested in learning more about their 10,000 acre reserve.

We saw three giraffe (giraffes?) including this one which was seated. Giraffes apparently have quite a problem with their high blood pressure - it is necessary to get blood all the way up to their brains but if they lay down they are in real trouble! The most horizonal they get is this - seated. The bunch we saw were about 10 meters from the truck. There are something like 72 different animals on this reserve - we saw only a handful because the grass is so tall this time of year - nearly 2 meters tall. The grasses are usually burned in late May/June at the start of 'safari season.' This facilitates better wildlife viewing but it is these prescribed burns that prevent hot-fast fires from occurring later in the season.

We saw a group of ostriches on the game drive but as I was leaving the reserve with the boys, there were more just hanging out on the road.

Chaminuka has three elephants. The elephants have keepers which monitor them and also to keep them in one quadrant of the reserve, away from the livestock operations, the villages and the farm, etc.

Last but not least, the brothers, being knuckleheads.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A story of stuff

In the end it’s just stuff and we're doing great without it. But where the #(*&%#((@ is it?

The story of our sea shipment: packed up at the end of February, rail to NY, wait for a boat, cross the Atlantic and cruise down the coast of W. Africa and either stop at a port in SA or carry on to Tanzania where it could be set on a train or a truck to Zambia. A few weeks back we foolishly assumed that our stuff was waiting for a truck in Dar Es Salaam (photo, right) along the container of another Seattle family that moved here same time we did. Our two families joked about hiring a truck ourselves to get it over with already! Silly Jennings!

When TJ informed me that our stuff wasn’t in port in Tanzania I thought for sure that it was in Zambia! Yippee!

But no.

It was in port alright…at JEDDAH. If I had my atlas I’d look at it right now to figure out where exactly that is, but my atlas is in JEDDAH. Jeddah is, I’m told, a port on the Red Sea…Our container wasn’t in Tanzania, it is in SAUDI ARABIA! (photo, The Jeddah Islamic Port)

It will eventually cruise down the east coast of Africa, maneuvere through bands of marauding pirates along the Somali coast (I’m being dramatic, I doubt any pirate in
their right mind would bother with a container ship) and maybe stop in Dar, Tanzania…It might just keep going down, hit Mozambique, and eventually make its way to South Africa, maybe round the Cape and just keep going right up the West coast of Africa…it can say ‘Hello’ to Emily in Morocco, wave to everyone in Europe, YOO HOOO!!!! and then do a second run through the Suez Canal just for kicks! It’s like an extended IKEA furnishings vacation!. They haven’t seen enough of the world! They need a chance to see it all before it settles down at plot 24 Mwambula, Jesmondine, Lusaka.

At least now we can stop waiting for it. The ‘planned’ arrival day has come and gone. The stuff is in Jeddah.

Tomorrow we go atlas shopping.

(map below, The Jeddah Islamic Port, Saudi Arabia)