Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Plot thickens

Our new friend at Ibex Extension
You know you have been charmed by Zambia when you start daydreaming about “the Plot.” Everyone seems to want one or already has one -- a plot of land. I suppose “property” would be the Seattle equivalent. We’ve found out recently of a handful of people who have been taken in by lure of The Plot and have purchased land at the outskirts of town - either as an investment or for retirement; 10-20 acres of scrubby bush they can call their own. Mr. 13Socks and I daydream about one day a little piece of property on Whidbey - it seems a reasonable, within-reach daydream for us - and I think about the little cabin we can build one day.

In reality, I think I know what Mr. 13Socks daydreams about and it's not a piece of property on Whidbey (tho that is somewhere up there in that giant cranium). In fact, I’m pretty sure it's this:

To be fair to TJ, you can be sure most days I've got this on my mind:

(In case you were wondering how our trip to Paris went. - although it's funny that that piece is vaguely in the shape of Africa!)

I digress.

Our gardener recently purchased a plot and has started building. For now his family of four is highly dependent on their employers (that would be us) to provide housing as a condition of employment, wrapped up with their salary package.

The trend is definitely for expat employers to not have staff living on their property with their families even though most houses have staff quarters just for this purpose - a separate little house with a garden and separate living space. Our staff quarters at this house have been nicely maintained, are clean, recently painted, and have water, a solid roof and electricity as long as our house has it.

At our last house the staff quarters were small, dirty, leaking and there was a family of rats in the ceiling but the landlord was unwilling to make any improvement. They were willing to put in a swimming pool for the main house and put a stone facade on the foundation of the house, but forget about fixing the roof in the staff house. That is a whole other story for a different (post-court appearance) day.....

Peter (in the back with the broken collarbone....) and the neighborhood kids. His kids were at Granny's house for the Easter holiday. Peter spends most of his free time here or organizing for work to be done here.

We brought Peter out to his plot the other day with some construction materials. He’s got his yard/garden staked out, the walls up and and is now working on the doorways and windows.

His plot is in an area called the Ibex Extension behind Ibex Hill where we stayed those early weeks in Zambia and where your tax dollars are hard at work building the new US embassy and USAID complex aka “the fortress.”

American Tax Dollars hard at work.

I heard a story recently about Ibex Hill which I found both disturbing and hilarious. Apparently the hill is a gigantic anthill and occasionally the ants “move house” on a scale you would only believe if you saw it. The story came from someone who back in the 60’s once stood with her friends and colleagues in a swimming pool for 2 hours because it was the only way to get out of the ants’ way. She said you could hear them coming.

....the plot thickens, indeed.

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