There is no cohesive theme to this post, but there were a lot of little moments that happened this week that I wanted to write about. I was supposed to start up French class again on Monday but couldn’t because Brian had gotten an email notice that someone needed to be home on Monday morning for the ant inspection. Fatou and Matty have a play group they go to every morning, so it meant I had to miss French. Of course, I’m waiting and waiting and after Brian complains that I’m still waiting, they finally showed up at noon (French class ended at 11:30).
There’s a regular team with the government that has been in charge of maintenance, so after a while you get familiar with the faces at least. Anyhow, the only female that’s apart of this group showed up and I feel like my facial expression just dropped when I saw her. When we first got here, I was so happy to see her because she is the only one of the group who speaks English and in those early days, that helped a lot. However, the more she came the more I realized that her goal seemed to be to do as little as possible and she was very condescending. For instance, one day our security alarm started smoking and when the black smoke stopped it would activate it’s fire alarm saying there was a fire in the house and it kept alternating between the fire alarm and normal operations every couple of minutes. Well, 6 hours later, someone finally came to check it out and it was this lady. She tells me that it seems to be fine now and so nothing is wrong and clearly, I was making a big deal out of nothing. Um, no. You can’t tell me that black smoke coming out of anything is fine. She opened it up and it was scorched inside. Yet, she still insisted that all was well. So, I wasn’t too happy to see her on Monday. And, of course our ant situation wasn’t too bad this week. Her solution was to give me some roach traps (yes roach traps) and to have our housekeeper mop any outside doorways with bleach. Um, ok.
Wednesday was a busy day. I went to French class and learned that my only other class mate also missed on Monday so I was kind of glad I didn’t go on Monday because a one-on-one session with Bouba, the instructor, is quite intense. He is a nice man, very funny, but will talk in French most of the class and I feel like every single neuron in my brain is firing for the entire hour and a half just so that I can sort of make out what he’s saying about 60% of the time. It’s exhausting. I don’t know how Brian did it one-on-one for 5 hours a day, 5 hours a week for 4 or 5 months. It’s only slightly better with another person in class.
I was looking forward to Wednesday because Brian and I were going to eat lunch at the Radisson. The last couple of weeks they have been doing a special menu with USDA-beef and other American items. I can’t tell you just how excited I was to eat American beef and cheesecake again. I don’t consider myself a big meat eater, but do enjoy it every now and then and appreciate American beef all the more when most red meat here in Dakar makes my stomach sick. Talk about a major let down when we arrive and they tell us that they only serve the American menu for dinner and it ends this Friday. <sigh>
In the afternoon, Matty decided to don a new look for the rest of the day:
We picked up John Philip from his after school tennis lesson and I let the boys play on the playground until it was time to pick up Brian from work. When we got to the tennis lesson, it was John Philip’s turn to hit the tennis ball. Matty got all excited when he saw him and started yelling, “Ba Ba! Ba Ba!” (John Philip’s nickname). When John Philip was done with his turn he ran over to say hi to Matty and Matty says, “Hi Matty.” (He’s still working out some words.)
We pick up Brian, we get home and the power is out. And of course this is the window of time where we can’t get anyone to answer their phones to send a technician to see what’s wrong with the generator. Two and half hours later the power is on again, but when you have dinner to make, baths for the kids (only one got to take a bath in the light of the battery operated LCD latern), bed time (which for Matty was after the power came on because he’s too used to his music and white noise at bed time), and 90+ degree weather with 100% humidity, it’s a tough 2.5 hours.
On Thursday afternoon, after a month of waiting (actually, the new service provider responded within a day or two, the government service provider let our request sit for almost a month and ignored Brian’s last email on the status), we finally got our pictures hung (well at least downstairs for now) on the concrete walls. It’s amazing what a difference pictures can make and add the final touches of making a home feel like home. As the guy was putting the pictures up, John Philip comes home from school and he’s so cute. The bus drops him off, the gardener lets him in the gate and then he meanders around the house before coming in because he’s looking for lizards. This is his typical arrival from school procedure.
And now, I must say how awesome it is to have a tech savy husband. Combine that with a good internet provider and life feels just about normal. See, Brian introduced me to the joys of mac computers, the iphone and the ipad (Steve Jobs is an incredible man who did incredible things, the world is not the same without him). He also knows about network drives and got us one so we can store all of our media on so we can access it from any computer (a task we still haven’t done but I hope we get to it soon). Well, Brian and I are TV junkies, and he learned that Xbox is starting up a variety of video service providers through the internet so you can watch things on your TV via the internet. Over the summer Brian bought a cord so that we could hook up our computers to the TV (something I wouldn’t have thought of on my own) and play our shows from Hulu on the TV. The first time we did it (and come to think of it, every time since then) it was like we were watching TV back in the States. The only minor problem is that it was a pain to disconnect things, connect the computer, bring the speakers over and then put everything back when we were done. So, the Xbox allowing us to stream Hulu onto our TV is a BIG plus. So, last night we watched Terra Nova and Parenthood on our big TV using the Xbox and it was glorious…until the internet went out and then I was reminded of where we were (not that I’m unhappy here it’s more that it’s amazing how technology can help you continue your life as normal (whatever you’ve established as “normal”) no matter where you are in the world, for the most part).
Today, Matty and I went to see John Philip’s cultural parade at school. The kids made shoe-box sized floats and decorated it with things about their country. John Philip had used some of his fake coins, made a flag, and had a variety of other red and blue items he made on his box. It was fun walking around asking the kids what was on their boxes (to the extent that Matty let me do this). There was one little American girl who told me the person on her float was a Rockette. Now, that was awesome, and she was decorated with glitter…even better. I told her how I got to talk to a Rockette once and she thought that was just amazing.
Matty just can’t get enough of the outdoors. Me, I can do without for now because I’m always drenched in sweat in this heat. I can’t wait until the cooler Bay Area weather starts next month. Anyhow, after our morning adventure outside and in a hot classroom, Matty STILL wanted to play outside when he saw his other little friends. Our gardener’s sons are sometimes with him and Matty wanted to go play with them. So, here is running around the housing complex with two little Senegalese boys and they’re all screaming and rolling around in the grass. One of the little boys seems to like me because he’s always saying hi and gets a big smile on his face when he sees me. Sometimes, he’ll look through our windows which can be a little disconcerting at times. Today, I figured out that “le auto” meant he saw one of the kids trucks and wanted to play with it. That’s the extent of my French though: “Voulez-vous jouer avec le auto?” (And, I don’t think that was entirely right because I get confused on when to use le du, etc.). While I didn’t mind lending him some of our abundance of toys, we were getting ready to go in for lunch and I didn’t know how to tell him that he could play with it and just put in near the door when he was done because we had to go inside. He also seemed like he wanted to come and get it and I didn’t know if his dad would get mad for coming into our house (so many rules) so in the end he didn’t get to play with a truck. I’m thinking of asking John Philip to pick out a couple of cars/trucks that he doesn’t play with any more that we can give to the little boys.
I have been going to a Mom’s Champagne Play Date these past couple of Friday afternoons and I’m starting to look forward to them more and more. These are the moms who have organized the morning play dates (Thursday mornings are at our house) and one mom has one every Friday afternoons for the moms to enjoy champagne while the kids play. There are a couple of American moms but there are moms from Europe and Canada too. They are all very nice and I feel very comfortable when I’m there. I’m looking forward to ending my week there today!