December 2007

Hmm… that job does sound very good…


On the same day as my fall, one of my nephews (same age as E) was diagnosed with malaria.  He was very floppy and lack-lustre all day, not to mention the high temperature.  Once he started taking the medicine, he improved quite quickly (enough to want to be at school the next day!).  Scary stuff.  There is no anti-malarial prophylaxis (as far as I understand it) that remains effective in the long term, but there have been mosquitoes here all the time we’ve lived here.  We live very close to the river, so it has been particularly worrying for me – did I blog about the horrible little things once?  But to have that news on the day I had been reminded of my own mortality… and then G was bitten twice that evening (first time that I’ve noticed).  It got me wondering how irresponsible we were being, bringing small children here.

After worrying for a couple of hours, I was able to look from a different perspective (not my own!).  We are, after all, here to improve lives for other people, not for ourselves.  If this is where God wants us to be, the least I can do is trust him to keep us safe!

There is also almost no danger here from drunk drivers (actually the streets are incredibly safe after dark for such a large city – no hassle, no muggings to speak of, no kidnappings), so perhaps there are different dangers, not more of them.

And the third piece of news from that day?  The job at the school has fallen through.  All of the students have dropped out of one group into another, so there is no need for me any more.  Which should be disappointing, except that, firstly, I will have more time in the mornings to relax or do chores that would otherwise be left till the evening and secondly, they are now talking about a full time job from August!  Full time?  I would say no almost straight away, except it’s a head of department position.  Which is just where I wanted to go next in my career!  So what now?

Well, stood on the stairs, to be historically accurate, but I did have a great fall…

It was really quite unbelievably clumsy, but the day before yesterday I fell down 15 or so stone steps at M’s office, carrying G (in his car seat – if I had been just holding him – well, it’s quite unthinkable…).  So I plummetted down, headfirst, car seat bumping on each step and my legs bumping on the car seat…

Dramatic!  I can’t think how it happened.  I was carrying a computer bag and changing bag, too, but this is how I generally get around – laden with bags.  And I have been walking – and even climbing stairs – for quite some time now….

Somehow, my head wasn’t hurt at all, even though there’s a wall a metre or so from the end of the stairs, and after a minute or two I was able to walk to the car.  Since I’d had no bump to the head, I felt safe to drive, so off we went home, where I changed a couple of nappies, made lunch and then sat down for a rest with one leg up, being looked after by my four-year-old nurse (would recommend her to anyone) with a pack of frozen peas.

However, in the afternoon (we went furniture shopping), walking became more and more difficult and by the time I got back from my Arabic class, my lower right leg was very swollen, bruised and uncomfortable and I could hardly walk.  Doctors’ clinics keep late hours here, so I went to one, but was told they only did X-raying in the morning.  He suggested I go to another place, but instead of getting lost in the small hours, I asked if I could come back in the morning, which he said was OK.

By the time I got home, the bruising had changed, with deep purple bruises where they hadn’t been when I showed the doctor, so I spent the night lying as still as I could with my leg up on a pillow, wondering if it was possible to break a leg but still walk on it and if the broken bits were slowly moving around and doing more damage to my leg as I walked.

After a morning of being waited on (breakfast in bed – fantastic!), I hobbled to the clinic (from the car, M driving this time at least), where the X-rays fairly quickly showed bones looking as though they’d never seen 15 stairs at some speed – no breaks, nothing.  Beautiful bones, I have.  I was given some anti-inflammatory gel and the X-ray pictures to keep – ooh, souvenirs!

So there we are.  Shame in a way, because I was coming round to the idea of being repatriated for Christmas!  I’m joking – being in hospital with my leg in plaster and most of my family in another continent, probably not much fun.

Still hobbling in a rather comic way, although a bit faster today.  Still shaking my head at previously unrecorded levels of clumsiness!

I know some of you are going to think that I’m boasting, but… the day we put up the Christmas tree (yesterday) was also the day I got badly sunburnt for the first time!  Actually, it was the first time I’ve been out in the sun, in the middle of the day, and didn’t feel too hot – so I suppose it makes sense.  Well, not till the walk back from the beach at 3pm when the breeze had died down and the sun was right in front of us.  Pretty hot then.

The Christmas tree isn’t looking bad at all.  We’re singing Christmas carols (although all our music accidentally got put into storage before we came here, so we don’t have any Christmassy music to play L).  E’s learning Jingle Bells and is practising singing it really loudly to help Santa find her school on Monday…  The advent calendars are chocolate, so they have to live in the fridge – but with chocolate and children that’s probably the best way…  And lots of carol services coming up.  But for someone who’s experienced every Christmas so far in her life in the UK, it still feels really really odd!  And I’m yet to be convinced that it’s possible to feel cold here.

Must tell you about this before it becomes too ancient history…

A little while ago now, M and I had our first taste of the highlife here, when we went to a ball at the Ambassador’s Residence.  (I presume she’s too important to have a “house”… anyway, it looks disappointingly much more like a viewing area for a swimming pool, and not glamorous at all!)  Not something we do every week, as you might’ve guessed, but I’m looking around for the next opportunity to put my party dress on! 

We sat in the garden (around 350 of us), had a great dinner – starter unlike anything I’ve tasted here, really gorgeous smoked fish, and then there was Scottish dancing.  I’m ashamed to say I sat it all out, not wishing to trip over my own toes and bump into everyone as I went the opposite way to everyone else… but when the normal bop-about music came on, I was dancing till 2am!!  I’ll have to try the Scottish dancing next year – now M will have to take me again!

And there was wine and whisky and HAM!!!  Not sure which of these was the most exciting, really.  I think the Ambassador should do Friday morning fry-ups and invite all Brits in turn – it’d be so popular, we’re all very pork-deprived!

Hello again!  Sorry for the protracted absence:  the internet at the internet cafe stopped working and wasn’t fixed for a whole week.  In desperation I took R and G into the office one morning last week so I could send a couple of urgent emails.  The children were both pretty patient, but it was an operation that required military precision in the planning – and certainly there was no extra time for blogging (or even “facebooking”… well, maybe a little).

Anyway, mornings are all changing after Christmas.  R starts nursery, which will be a major change – for her and me!  (And even little G, I suppose, although so much of life is new to him I don’t suppose he’ll have difficulty adjusting!)  Before we left the UK, when the possibility of putting R in nursery here was mentioned, I thought it would be unnecessary.  After all, she’s only 2 – surely she can be kept occupied and happy at home, pottering along with Mummy, joining in what I’m doing or playing together?  Besides that, there are also playgroups here every weekday morning, so there are other children to play with and adult company for me should I feel in need of it!

As I say, that’s how I was thinking before I arrived.  Over the past three months, I’ve – reviewed the situation, I suppose!  The playgroups are invaluable as a way to meet other mothers/children (depending on your perspective!) and to get out of the house.  They are, however, held at other people’s houses, with – in some – a limited range of toys (they do take up a lot of space in one’s luggage!)  There is more variety in the baby toys, which is absolutely fair enough because most of the children there are under 2 (the over 2s are all in nursery!).

So, if we’re not going to playgroup, what else could we do?  We’ve just started doing some art and craft (aka messy play!) at home, which R and I are both enjoying – but you can’t buy much here, so we’ll have to have more brought out when things start running out.  Nurseries, however, have paints, sponges, paintbrushes, coloured paper, overalls and glue galore!  There are no playgrounds here, unless you count the ones which are all metal with no shade and too hot to touch most of the year… but nurseries have good quality climbing frames and slides not to mention little cars and scooters to ride and bats and balls.  There are no libraries to visit, so we’re limited to the books we’ve brought out… but the nursery has a library and each child brings a book home each week.  And I’ve recently discovered that they bring home magazines for the mother, too!

Aaanywaaayyy (if anyone’s still reading), the other major change is that I will be working.  The international school (okay, one of them) needs someone to teach one class – seven hours a fortnight – and I am that someone!  There’s a crèche for little G (I should even be able to avoid bottlefeeding for the time being) and all but one of the lessons are in the morning when E and R are out anyway!  (Actually, I should admit that there are two other problem lessons – but as their cousins are attending the same school and nursery, their auntie and I are coming to an arrangement…  The whole experience of living here would have been more difficult if she hadn’t been here.)

So I get to do a bit of teaching, but not so much as to be stressful.  I get to do a job I love, with a small enough class to be able to do the job well.  And I’ll meet some more people, as a person in my own right, not just as somebody’s mother!  Can’t wait!