September 2009

Sitting in our favourite garden cafe at the weekend (the one with mist sprays all around to make the heat bearable and give the temporary impression of being in a tropical greenhouse every 3 minutes), we realised the music being played in the background was “Singin’ in the rain.”  Seemed a strange choice for a country which sees so little precipitation, although if you position yourself carefully on a fairly cool day, the mist can feel very slightly like English drizzle (woooonderful!!).

The rains that fell in August and the first days of September are already fading in our memories, although the potholes that appeared here and there in the tarmac while roads were flooded are a reminder.  The unpaved roads were worse affected, obviously, becoming mudslides and traps for unwary non-4×4 vehicles, best avoided.  But they have been easy to level off again and are as smooth as stony, unsurfaced roads can be expected to be.  (Avoid areas outside rich people’s houses, where they wash their cars and their driveways daily and the run-off creates deep runnels in the dirt road outside.)

The nursery that G attends faces is on a square: a large area of dirt with houses all around.  The rains turned it into a muddy swamp, and we parents had to crawl in our cars through the edge of the puddle as we had no idea how deep it would be in the middle.  On the road leading into the square, we had to drive through a puddle because it was all the way across the road and there was no better way into the square – then you just have to wait and watch someone else in a similar car try it first!  Generally there’s someone around who already knows the best route through it.  My car started behaving strangely one day (probably water splashing up into something), so while it was being looked at I had a pick-up truck for a couple of days.  I was a less worried driver on those days!

Once the rains stopped (and we’re talking probably six downpours in this rainy season, each lasting a few hours – but usually they only expect four, so it was a wet summer!), the puddles receded steadily.  The huge one outside the nursery lasted the longest, and as it shrank, it burst into life – green, slimey life to begin with and then grasses and insects and birds.  Now it’s dried out and it’s just a very uneven patch of ground, with no sign of the activity of two weeks ago.

We had a similar experience on a smaller scale with a little puddle outside our back gate, which seemed from a distance to be shimmering.  When we looked more closely, we saw it was absolutely full of fat, wriggling tadpoles.  Daddy and the girls put some into a couple of jamjars so that we could watch them (E had been learning about the life cycle of a frog just that week!), at which point we realised that none of us knew what tadpoles ate.  How on earth had they survived in that puddle?  “Your teacher will know,” I said confidently to E, and we proudly took in the ones that had made it through the night to school the next day.  I’m not sure her teacher (who is also M’s sister) was best pleased with this sudden responsibility, but she is a very good primary teacher and having tried weakly to pass them back to us to look after, took them on bravely.  I haven’t actually heard much about them since.  I wonder what happened to them?

Well!  I am very sorry for such a long silence.  When did I last write?  June?  Goodness me.  A small attempt at an explanation…  July was our holiday in the UK (and neighbouring countries), so I never was intending to write then.  We returned here in August, to a new house (much nicer than the old one – no rats, for one thing).  It took a couple of weeks to unpack everything – and then I realised that our computer had not made it to the new house.  What has happened to it is still a mystery – I expect foul play which M says is very unlikely.  The office don’t seem to take it seriously (they are the ones who moved our stuff while we were away) and so I, ridiculously, go on from day to day hoping it will turn up somewhere.  I must do something more – the silly thing is that it was pretty old and fairly useless, so we’ve bought a new one.  But in the usual way, M has commandeered the new one to be used in the office; I have finally been given an older one to use instead and even that one may be taken away from me again in a couple of days to be used in the office.  My life is always somewhat less important than the office – and what with all that noble work they do, the comparison is a little absurd: my convenience versus the co-ordination of projects saving and improving the lives of hundreds.  Hmmm…

So, for a few days, at least, I have a computer.  Other news: I am pregnant.  Yes, this is the fourth and yes, I will be taking some or all drastic measures available to ensure it doesn’t happen again after this one!  Very annoyingly, I am struggling with this one, big time – which is mainly annoying because it’s just what most of my friends and family thought would happen and just what I was equally convinced was highly unlikely.  So now I am in the hands of doctors I’m not sure I trust, with limited medicines available to treat my symptoms.  And I have been desperately low in energy for three or four weeks now – sleeping lots, needing to lie down or at least sit every five minutes or so – which nobody medical seems to be interested in.

So, that’s me at the moment.  Oh, just back from a good holiday in South Africa (and Swaziland and Mozambique – plenty of time to sleep in the car…) – a nice week, shame about the flights there and back, but that’s always the problem here.