September 2007


Discovering more and more advantages of living in this place – but one downside particularly noticeable at the moment is the new and exotic illnesses like the one that first R and now G has (have?) succumbed to.  High temperature and nasty cough (which in G’s case continues until he empties his stomach – I know, I know, you didn’t want that much information…).  I have had lots of cuddles with little heaters turned up full!

R is still quite clingy and sensitive and I’m not sure if it’s the bug lingering or if it’s just being unsettled in a still quite new place.  If anyone goes near her and I’ve moved away, she will wail – and I think she’s getting a reputation for being the wailer of the playgroup!  Wails across the cafe just now as she banged her foot slightly…  Thinking lots about how I can help her settle and cheer up…

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M returned from a trip to “the field” last night – at bathtime, how fantastic!  And a day earlier than expected, too!  Travelling to and from there is a bit hit-and-miss (hmm… hopefully not literally) – the helicopter might get you to the plane in time to catch it on the same time, but they ain’t guaranteeing it!

 Anyway, unpacking last night, he has released many varied and interesting insects into our house.  They are all REVOLTING!  I am glad not to be a Buddhist, in which case I’d have to welcome them into my house, along with all the mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches that are already there.  Think that’s probably the reason that Buddhism is not a major religion in Africa…

 Apparently, on his trip it was impossible to walk across the house without hearing a certain crunching underfoot…  YYYYUUUCK!!

…as someone said to me yesterday.  And it’s occurring to me, that despite the fact that M is away and the electricity seems to fail every day, things are still easier than they were at home.  Bother, that word again!  Which is to say, the same frustrations with small children are having less effect on me…  And all I have to do is keep them entertained and fed.  Somehow, there’s nothing else that needs to be done.

Another DVD tonight, then?  If I can hear it over the noise of the generator!

Every Thursday evening (which is of course like Friday in Britain – I haven’t quite got into the mindset), there is a bar at the British Embassy called Pickwick’s (how delightfully Dickensian – although I’m told it’s named after an Embassy parrot buried in the wall).  Tonight has been my first visit to an Embassy building!  It’s disappointingly not much to look at (rectangular, brick), but lots of security to stroll nonchalantly past on the way in, which was quite fun.  There are tables round a pool, which may sound more impressive than it is.  What caught my eye more were the insects everywhere – flies, I’m starting to expect, but mini-cockroach-type things crawling on my shirt: yuck.

So, to the evening’s work of making small talk with a series of strangers…  The whole of expat society is here and it’s all fairly unfamiliar to me, but the range still surprises me: Embassy people, NGO employees, people who don’t work here any more, but have stayed on because of love, an estate agent for expats who can lay his hands on anything you might be having trouble finding here…

Glad not to be driving home myself, with my head spinning from the unfamiliar conversation topics of people who feel at home here.  There are no streetlights and of course no signs, and the headlights magnify every unevenness in the dirt road surfaces, but I am not driving, so I just sit back and watch erratic tuk-tuks and dignified white-robed men crossing our path from time to time.  Here we are, back at the house.  Through the gates – a lift of the heart at the sight of the garden – and then down again with a small sigh: back to the new reality.

So, my impressions after a week?  Too many and too varied to represent fully here, of course, but varied is good – positive as well as negative!  The first couple of days, I was focussing on settling the children in: E’s new nursery, which she has taken to astonishingly quickly; visits to their aunt, uncle and cousins to reassure them all is not unfamiliar here; time with Mummy, playing with toys they haven’t seen for a while; time with Daddy – a new luxury!  R still wants to be carried around the house some of the time, but is becoming more comfortable with Lily – our home help, I guess you’d call her – and likes to get out to the daily playgroups.

Unfortunately, that means I have to drive, navigating my way through an unfamiliar city with no signposts or street names, to a gardenful of people I barely know.  Then I have to sit with them for a couple of hours, trying to remember often-unfamiliar names and the children and situations that go with them, while responding to R’s comments and feeding and playing with G.  All right, I’ll be honest:  once I get there it’s fine – and fun, but all so different that I feel nervous thinking about it, rather than looking forward to it.

I’m quite pleased with the other trips that I’ve done (pathetically mundane though they might appear!): to the local supermarket, for example (like a Tesco Express in terms of size – I mention this in case you’re struggling to picture it as much as I did before going inside!).

The title I’ve chosen for this blog gives the impression I’m from another era, don’t you think?  I’m not sure it’s me, really.  But can you believe this:  the username expatwife was unavailable!  Somebody already thinks of herself as that – and what’s more, she’s blogging through wordpress too!  Extraordinary.

Anyway, I haven’t even left the UK yet, so perhaps the description’ll fit a bit better when I do.  The visas have gone through all the ministries they need to, now we just need to go and collect them.  Then on Monday, I’m off to my new life!  Only a week later than originally planned (but of course delays and inexact timings are things I’m quite used to)…