Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Old Are You Anyway?

Birthdays are not a big deal here in Zambia. Well, they are if you are a muzungu and happen upon someone whose birthday it is. They will make sure to point out that it is their birthday--hoping for a gift. But for the rest of the time--for those in rural Zambia birthdays are not really observed.

Most of the children that come to us do not have birth certificates and while many have clinic cards which show their birthday we don't know if those have the right date on them. Others come with no documentation at all--only the word of the relatives as to how old they are. Since I've seen the funny way they count I take what they say with a grain of salt but at the same time I have to write down a birthdate. Often the father of the child will only give us a month and year that the child was born. In that case I give the day as 15 as a reminder to myself that it is an approximation.

We hadn't really figured out how to do birthdays with the kids because we haven't really started from the beginning with them--celebrating 1st birthdays and all that come after. With so many kids close in age we didn't know how to tell them it was one child's birthday and not the other's. Did we start with the oldest child or what? 

Finally, this past weekend we decided to just jump in and throw a party. Queenie and Theresa have June 14 and July 6 birthdates respectively and so we planned to throw them a joint birthday party while we had some volunteers with us. We figured having both girls celebrate together would make it less awkward for them. 

To prepare we found a book in our library called, Arthur's Birthday. In that story two children share a birthdate and end up sharing their party as well. It was perfect. The kids had that story read to them during their school circle time. They had a few days to get used to the idea and then we threw a party. 

Now that we've done the first party we'll be able to keep on going with other kids' parties when it is their birthday. We don't want to do monthly parties because we want to avoid the institutional feel as much as possible. When we grow to where we have 100 kids it will get more interesting but we'll work it out as we go along. 
When I go to Lusaka next (tomorrow actually) I'll be buying a huge wall calendar so we can put the kids' pictures on their birthdate and they can learn to look forward to things and count days and months, etc.

I'll share pictures from the party tomorrow. It went really well and the kids behaved well and had a good time. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not the Favored One

Little Baby Peter has been cuddled and loved on by all of us since he came to live with us last September. He was so very sick that he needed that extra attention. We've had other little babies come and go but he has been spending every evening getting playtime with us after dinner. Even when we've had other babies stay with us he was pretty young, and they were sick so he didn't pay them much attention.

That has all changed now since I came back and began including baby Lizzie into our evening family time. I try to have special time with all the babies each day since I've read that babies need to bond to someone in their first year to get a good emotional start in life. By having extra cuddles and playtime in the evening I feel that they are getting that.

But Peter's been feeling a little threatened now that Lizzie is sharing his space. There are plenty of arms ready to hold him and since Lizzie falls asleep earlier than he, he gets a lot of attention.

 But he is still not happy with this little intruder.

Here he had just ripped Lizzie's pacifier out of her mouth and is trying to charm me with his sweet, baby face. "But I'm so cute. Don't be angry."

Sorry, Baby Peter, Lizzie is part of our family too.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sundays in My City

I heard shouting yesterday and went out to investigate. I found bodies littering the ground and fierce fighting happening. 

Don't worry, it wasn't an attack from African rebels. It was an attack of......

the LARPers!

Don't know what a LARPer is? I'm embarrassed that I do but that is what happens when you not only marry a Geek but have 6 beautiful little geeklings with him.

Anyway, LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. Apparently people get into it big time with costumes and weekend shebangs to do the whole Role Playing thing. 

My kids were bored and decided to create their own version and get the nannies involved too. Below is the photographic evidence.

Team 1 planning a strategy

Team 2 defending the high ground

And the battle begins!

The battle rages on as Team 1 mounts a steady attack

And Benard is down again. 
But what really stands out to me in this picture is the two women in back.

Christine and Foster really got into the game.

Go get her, Christine!

I don't think you can beat my son for competitiveness though.
Take a look at this picture:

Everyone was fine after the game with only a few small cuts and bruises to show for all the fun. 
I will never understand the appeal of a game where the highlight is getting hurt.

Hope your weekend is fun and a little more peaceful. 

Join Unknown Mami for her Sundays in My City feature

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fab Friday Foto XX

Jasmine got a set of decorating tools as a gift when I returned from the States. She's already putting them to good use. One of her career goals may be  to be a baker. I think she'll do well.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Witches' Whiskers

Yesterday I read this post by Lindsey Farrier on her She's Still Got It blog. In her blog she asks an interesting question which I've decided to answer in my own blog post. Go ahead and read it. I'll still be here when you get back.

So, the question asked was, Where was the strangest place you've found a  stray hair.

I just had to share this story:

Last year I was invited by a Peace Corps volunteer, Mindy, to stay the night in her hut. I've often wondered how these volunteer manage to live for 2 years in a mud hut with no running water and a hole in the ground for a toilet. I welcomed the opportunity to see for myself if only for a night.

I walked from our orphanage to Mindy's site. It took about 30-40 minutes. The first afternoon I found a bit overwhelming with so many kids milling around her little hut. But after a good night sleep I just chilled out on the front 'porch' reading while kids played all around. One little girl sat right in front of me and began telling me stories. I couldn't understand a word she said but she was very expressive with her facial expressions and hand gestures. Every once in a while I would ask Mindy what story the little girl was telling and she would mostly guess and it was fun. 

After about 30 minutes of this story telling the little girl got all wide eyed and quiet. She began staring at the lower part of my face with great excitement. She then called her buddy over and they began talking excitedly about something of great importance on me! I got really nervous and brought my hands up to my face. As I felt around I discovered a hair hanging from underneath my chin. I was horrified! and immediately began to pull it out. 

The girls shrieked and pulled my hands down. No, no! they said.

You see, here in Zambia it is considered good luck to have facial hair. It is not uncommon to see women walking around with quite the showing--enough to shame an adolescent boy. They are careful to shave most other parts of their bodies but the facial stuff gets to stay.

I left the hair alone while the girls continued to chatter to me but it felt like a log hanging down. Now that I knew about it there was no way I could ignore it! As soon as the girls wandered off, I reached up and plucked that little sucker. It was about 1 inch long! Ewww!

About 5 or 10 minutes later the girls came back and the first thing they did was look for my hair. When they couldn't find it they searched for a few more seconds before giving me a disdainful look. 
Hey, I'm all for honoring local culture but I have to draw the line at growing witches' whiskers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Cousin's Account

Way back in May I met my cousin, Stephanie for the very first time in real life. We connected on Facebook just about a year ago. She is actually the reason I blog now. I noticed she had a blog, saw links on the sidebar for other blogs, noticed a link for Pioneer Woman, realized I'd seen that name on other places, checked it out and realized, "Hey, I have a story to tell too!" And there you have it. The six (or so) degrees that led from Stephanie to me tying up the cyber lines with my ramblings.

Below are excerpts from Stephanie's account of our meeting in Dallas. Since I can't leave well enough alone I'll be adding my two sense from time to time. To see her full post plus some gorgeous photos of flowers (I have camera and skill envy) check it out here.

The Meeting

The first of May found me headed south to the Dallas area. I have never driven there alone before and when my GPS in my car didn't recognize the street I was going to I must admit I was a little extra nervous. Thankfully my phone is more up to date.

I couldn't wait to meet Amy! We'd done lots of planning and lots of chatting and it was finally happening. Our cousin Renee was driving in from Houston as well and would get to spend some time with us. As a bonus, two of Amy's sisters lived in the Dallas area. We were looking at some serious family bonding. When one of Renee's sisters joined us on our last night, I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude to God and Facebook for getting this all together. We were so sad that Robin couldn't be there though. Albuquerque is just too stinking far away!

I apparently was traveling at the perfect time for Oklahoma wildflowers.Since I had plenty of time I took some time to stop and smell (well photograph) the flowers.I got to the hotel in plenty of time and sat in the parking lot waiting. I had no idea what car Amy was coming in, or which direction, but I parked where I could see all entrances. Since I had some spare time on my hands I decided to pluck my eyebrows. Natural light is the absolute best I must say. So when Amy and her son T. J. got there I greeted them with nicely shaped eyebrows. I'm always thinking of others:)

We settled into our hotel, Amy made a few phone calls, and soon we were having another reunion. Amy's sisters Ruth and Priya (and Priya's boyfriend Michael) picked us up and we all went to dinner.

I had been at a reunion with Priya when I was a newlywed and she was 12. She's grown up a bit:) We all talked so much we hardly had time to eat! This is true! Our poor longsuffering waitress. She kept up a good humor the whole evening as time after time she inquired if we were ready to order but we'd been chatting so much we hadn't even looked at the menu.
 They all grew up as missionaries and have lived ALL over the world. Their early years were so vastly different from mine and it completely fascinated me. Because Amy has six children (two that are already in college) I assumed she was quite a bit older than me. But no, we're the same age! She married incredibly young and had children quickly, and back to back. But she is years older than me in maturity. At the age that she was married and had 4 children, I was hitting the mall and worried that my three level bangs didn't have enough Aqua Net in them to last the whole day. She just called me mature, didn't she? Isn't that another word for old? I'm not sure if I should be flattered or offended. LOL

Aren't we a good looking bunch? Ruth, Amy, and I stayed up that night talking and looking at all the family history books and pictures I'd brought until, oops, 4 am. Poor Ruth only got a few minutes sleep before she had to wake her family up and start her day. Amy and I got a little more sleep, but not much!

If you're in Dallas, you have to go to Sam Moon. I'd told Amy I wanted to go to the jewelry store. Since she lives in Africa she's not familiar with the large, super center, really cheap, overwhelming, jewelry franchises. She didn't say it until later, but she didn't know why I wanted to go jewelry shopping. 
 Stephanie is so cute and well put together. When she said jewelry shopping I envisioned something more along the lines of Harry Winston--way out of my budget--but I learned her secrets. You don't have to have a ton of money; just good style sense.--And she has that in bucketloads.

After getting lost, something that happens a lot in Dallas, we finally found Sam Moon. Since the town is growing so fast there is always something under construction. And they rename streets constantly! Not even the GPS on my phone can keep up. What should have taken 20 minutes took almost an hour. I almost kissed the ground outside Sam Moon when we finally got there. 
Getting lost was kinda fun. I knew we wouldn't be lost forever. This wasn't the Mojave Desert and eventually we would have made our way to something. And we did! On the very positive side I discovered that RaceTrac (a local gas station) has an amazing coffee bar. I made a point of plotting my route home past a RaceTrac so I could get my caffeine fix.
Amy was still unsure, but after looking at a few prices, she was all in!! T. J. however, was not impressed. The cross dressers helping each other pick hair extensions finally got him more excited about being there.
This part was actually hilarious. T.J and I were wandering the aisles of this massive store which sells everything from jewelry to purses to scarves to wigs. We came around the corner and saw this man helping someone on a chair try on wigs.I thought, "oh, how sweet. That man is helping his wife choose a wig. Maybe she's a cancer survivor." I nearly welled up with sympathetic tears. But then as we got closer: "Um, why does that woman have such hairy arms? Oh! Oh, No!" 

Renee joined us that night and we headed out to eat again. So far I'd eaten at Olive Garden for dinner, Pei Wei for lunch, and Chili's for the another dinner. I was in heaven. We only eat out once a week because of money and my food allergies so this was a special treat for me! Add in seven cousins and I was feeling so blessed!After another night of staying up late chatting with Renee, it was time to head home. We took a few pictures, hugged a bunch, made promises to keep in touch, and headed our separate ways.

Of the original 11 Stone children, we represented three sisters. Only Amy's grandmother is still living. The two bloggers. We were really missing Robin at this point:(

this is my picture. See the difference in quality. Gah!

As I headed up I-35 I was a little misty but I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend with them. Amy only comes to the states every two years but the other cousins have promised to consider coming to the next reunion. I'm in charge this time and I'm picking a place that's close to Oklahoma and Texas. Our generation doesn't usually come and I'm determined to get them excited about it! With Facebook to keep everyone linked together, it better happen!

I'm sad I won't be able to be there but maybe my grown kids will be able to travel up north sometimes. Also, I'll expect full accounts of the reunions on Facebook and the blog, Stephanie.
Gotta love the internet!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Innovater

Remember the leak I told you about yesterday? Well, it looks like the welder's work is holding strong. So far so good.

Tom had battled with this leak for a couple months. 

We have two 5000 liter plastic tanks sitting on top of a 6 yard/meter metal stand. It is not an easy job maintaining them. 

When the leak developed Tom let the water run out (we pump each night to keep the levels up) so he could get inside. He caulked and glued and did everything he could think of. The leak wasn't big but we all know how much water even a tiny drip can waste over time. 

Deciding he had to do something while waiting for a solution for the leak, Tom got a 5 gallon (20 liter) paint bucket, split it down the side and then twisted it into a funnel shape.

He fixed this to the tank right under the leak and then hooked a pipe up to the bottom of it.

The pipe ran down, down, down and over to a barrel. Every day we filled this 250 L (more than 60 gal.) barrel with just the drips caught from the leak.

What a guy!

I'm so glad to be married to a man who doesn't take his problems lying down but gets busy and FINDS a solution. They say you marry the type of man your father has modeled. So, you did good, Dad!

Happy Father's Day!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Just Another Average Day

We've had a leak in our water tank for a while now. Tom has done everything he can think of to fix it and today decided to call in the 'big guns'. He got a welder to come out. He is going to melt our plastic tank and hopefully fuse the sides of the leak together. I'm thinking it's going to make a bigger hole but that's why I'm not on the maintenance committee. Heh.
 I'll let you know how it all turns out tomorrow.

Anyway, in order to fix the tank it had to  be drained. All 5000 liters of it (that's 1200 gallons for my Yankee readers).

I was preparing lunch when I heard shouting and saw my teenage son go running across the yard. When I got out to the driveway I saw this:

Then I saw Tom near our banana plantation doing this:

And Benard (our second gardener) doing this:

Here's the explanation. We had to drain the water from the tank but the two pipes didn't fit together. I think you need a collar or something. 

Anyway, Peter and Timmy had to hold the two pipes next to each other so the water would 'jump' from one pipe to the next and head down--way down--to Tom.

Here he would fill up buckets

and poor Benard would run with them to pour on each of the banana trees (or are they plants?)

He had to do this over and over again. I got tired just watching him.

Then they moved the pipe to the other side of the driveway and the work continued down another row of banana trees/plants

At least we were able to make use of most of the water. A job well done!

What has been your drama for the week?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

If Man Was Meant to Fly....

...He Would Have Been Born with Wings.
A couple days ago as our gardener walked to work, he passed a man sitting alone under a tree looking up at the sky. Since it is rare to see someone sitting alone here, our gardener walked over to ask if the man was ok. 
"Yes," he replied. "I was just looking up and thinking about how unfair God is." 
"Why is that?", our gardener asked.
"Well, I was looking up at the sky and saw an airplane go by and I was thinking how unfair it is for God to show me this thing when I will never be able to fly in one."

When Tom relayed this story to me my first reaction was to feel heartbroken for this poor man who felt deprived in this life.

Then we got to talking about how he really had it all wrong. God doesn't pick and choose favor in such a random way. Sure, He rewards those who follow and serve Him but His rewards are everlasting more often than not and not just a temporary thrill or joy ride.

God doesn't really have a lot to do with whether this man in our village ever rides in a plane. If that man were to work really hard at a business and then build it into an international company and get the chance to travel the world, would he think that it was God who put him on the plane? Me thinks not. We, as humans, have the tendency to assign blame to a higher power to take the pressure off ourselves.

Envy is a real thing which is why it was included in the original commandments. All of us can fall prey to this temptation. Even me! Imagine that. LOL! I was telling a friend the other day that I know I'm getting homesick when I daydream of cleaning bathrooms. I'm a terrible housekeeper! and yet that is what Satan uses to get under my skin. Perhaps there are those of you that envy me being able to live my dreams and travel the world. Heh. 

One thing I know to be true (look at me channeling Oprah--NOT) is that God has a plan for our lives but it is up to us to put in the time and the hard work to make sure that we are following Him. When we do this we can be sure that He is going to give us the desires of our heart because our hearts will be desiring Him! And He deserves our praise in the good times and the disappointing times.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward and a little TIA for fun

 Our car has been repaired and returned to us! It had something to do with the gear box and a shaft and teeth. Can't tell you any more than that. I'm just glad it's back!

I am making slooowww progress on my to-do list but at least I'm going in the right direction. 

Coming up next:
I'm actually leaving here again(!) in just 15 days. I'll be taking our 2 volunteers back down to the capital to catch their flight home. One of them might be coming back for a year. She's still praying about it. Would you add your prayers, please. It would make such a difference to have an extra set of hands. 
  The same day I drop the girls off at the airport I pick up my friend, Debbie. The plane she flies in on takes the two girls out. I'm still trying to figure out where to get the Starbucks coffee she's asked for. I have some ideas.....
Debbie and I will then be spending several days together enjoying Lusaka and Livingstone before heading up to the orphanage. I'm so excited for some gal-time.
About two weeks after we reach the orphanage Tom will go collect another couple from Lusaka. It looks like we're going to have visitors nearly every day until the middle of September at least. It brings life to our little project. So nice for all of us!

What summer fun are you looking forward to?

For some fun reading now, please click on the links below from Ali's African Adventures. I've linked to her before. She had some adventures this past week that are a great read.

In this post she tries to make hotel reservations and encounters African logic.

In this post she writes about mini-buses with which I am very familiar and motor bikes which, thankfully, I am not as familiar. Watch for the Zambian reference.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

All Tuckered Out

Not me though. Thank Goodness for that! I had a restful day yesterday--actually slept until noon!

This is the photo I would have posted for Fab Friday Foto.

Jumping is really hard work. Take a look:

No babies were harmed in the taking of this photo

P.S If you click on the photo it will open in a separate window and not look stretched. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

One of Those Days

I had a feeling it was going to be one of those days when I got up at 5:30 AM in order to put up a Fab Friday Foto before heading out for our weekly shopping trip. Just as soon as I booted up my computer the power went out. It came back on relatively quickly—after just 15 minutes—but restarting our internet service is such a headache that I decided to leave it and get ready to go instead.

We had a fairly pleasant drive to Mansa. Our new truck tires are nice and even and make for a much smoother ride despite the massive potholes we encounter along the way. We had just entered Mansa when we heard a terrible grinding sound coming from the gears as Tom downshifted. He quickly pulled into a driveway and that was that. He immediately pulled out his phone to contact our mechanic and we set off on foot toting our bags and cooler.

Our first stop was the bank. Tom left me standing in the unusually long line at the ATM while he took the mechanic to look at the truck and get it towed to his yard. The line barely moved the entire time he was gone. Finally, it was our turn at the ATM. I slid the debit card in and got the dreaded message: “Your bank has denied this transaction”. This was repeated with all three of our cards. We know exactly what this means by now. The bank’s anti-fraud computer has noticed some unusual activity. Yes, we used our card overseas! How this can still be unusual after working over here for EIGHT years and being with the same bank that entire time is beyond me.

Anyway, we had a couple options open to us: One, we could wait for 3 PM and speak to someone, or two, we could check to see what we had available in our personal account and use some of that money. Since the car was broken and we would most likely have to travel home by bus we had to choose option two.

I went with the kids to the internet café to check on our bank balance while Tom headed out to run some errands. The first computer I tried couldn’t load my bank’s web page at all. The second computer could get me through the first three sign-in, verify-your- identity, enter-your-password pages (very slowly) but when it came to the actual bank page it would start to load and then switch to an error message. Over and over and over again.

I was frustrated beyond words but wanted to call Tom anyway. Problem was….his phone was switched off. Since returning from Lusaka we had been unable to find his charger for the phone I just brought him from the States. We had a couple Motorola chargers lying around but they didn’t charge the phone fully. Now, today of all days, it had finally died completely!

Tom finally returned and suggested we use a friend’s computer in a nearby office. Unfortunately we couldn’t get load the page there either. We decided to use a credit card inside the bank to get a cash advance. This got us the cash even though, it too, was a slow process. Go to this office, wait at this counter, get denied once, beg them to try again, have the transaction go through, wait again, then joyfully receive cash!

With cash in hand we rushed to the grocery store. We would have preferred to take a taxi but in keeping with this day the usual swarm of taxis begging us to use their services were nowhere to be seen. We hoofed it again still carrying our bags and cooler. (The kids by now were at their shotokhan [martial arts] class) After leaving our bags in the parcel room at the grocery store, Tom rushed off to take care of errands while I ran around like a crazy person filling two carts with groceries. We had just an hour before the bus was scheduled to leave.

When I was done shopping I pushed both my carts to the check out counter and on my way to collect the bags from the parcel room realized that Tom had the little ID number that would allow them to release the bags. I wasted precious moments begging them to give me the shopping bags but they refused. I even got two different managers involved but no go. Furious and cursing broken cell phones, I hurried back to the line and began loading groceries onto the counter. On the way back to the cashier I noticed a delicious looking candy bar. If you think I resisted temptation and did not load that sucker into my cart you are sorely mistaken. After the day I was having I deserved that treat!

Tom showed up eventually and loaded my already bagged (in plastic—blech) groceries into our big carrier bags and then into a waiting taxi. I ran across the street to a little restaurant to get some food to go. The kids met me there and we quickly picked out some food for the trip home. I was out of patience by this time and when the lady working the counter turned out to be a bit of an idiot I had to hold myself completely in check so I wouldn’t reach over the counter and spank her. C’mon Holy Spirit! Make me be good!

We got to the bus station just minutes before the bus was due to leave. Folded ourselves (quite literally) into our seats and left town. Halfway through the trip our lower limbs had pretty much lost all feeling but we hung in there. Just 15 minutes away from home the bus had a flat tire. We could hardly contain the moans of disappointment. But, hey! On the bright side we got to stretch our legs!

After about 20 minutes the tire was replaced and we were on our way again. Our gardener met us in the village and though it took two taxi trips we and all our groceries finally made it home.

Last night Tom found his battery charger. It looks like our ‘luck’ is back!

Oh, and I never did eat the chocolate bar. I can’t find it! and while I don’t exactly need it anymore, boy do I ever want it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Could this be Jet Lag or just Drag?

I have had such a hard time getting back into the swing of things. It's been 10 days since I left the U.S, 8 days since I arrived in Zambia and nearly 4 days that I've been back home. So why do I still feel draggy? I have always considered myself one of those people that doesn't get jet-lag because I usually just adapt quickly to my new time zone. I don't wander the halls at night. I go to bed at a reasonable time and wake up in the morning as usual. 

So what on earth is this new development? I'm sleeping fine at night but I can't seem to get my butt in gear all day long. I'm having trouble focusing on tasks and I feel the need to nap all day long. I've been working out so it isn't a need for exercise....

 I'm wondering if it is sensory overload plain and simple. I just spent the last 2 months running around like a crazy woman: Criss-crossing the U.S, speaking before crowds, catching up with relatives and spending time with my older children. Not that I didn't thoroughly enjoy every minute of my time in the States (well, nearly every minute, I really had a good time. I love my job!

Now I've come back to my 'other' life. I have piles of work to catch up on that accumulated during my absence as well as the usual work of running a home for children as well as caring for my own family.
I've been working out in my living room (yoga and Jillian Michaels) but I have no desire to go out to walk/run. I feel like hibernating. 

 Geesh, I look exhausted here!

Could it be that I just need to adjust and give my body (and spirit) time? Maybe I need more vitamins? What do you think? Have you felt that type of exhaustion before that had nothing to do with newborn babies? What did you do to combat it?

Monday, June 7, 2010

I forgot....

I huge the African sun is at dawn. When Tom and I drove up from Lusaka we left the house there before sunrise and got to watch the sun come up. It was beautiful!

I many smells there are here. From the taxi driver who sorely needed a bath to the open pit toilet on the journey north. You'd think I'd get used to them all by now, but no.

I forgot* much I love seeing the kids learn new things. Watching the foster kids master the new Wii made me giggle out loud many times yesterday.

I forgot....that a security guard has to check my receipt as I leave the grocery store. I barreled past him and he called me back and then punished me by reading every item on my list before releasing me.

I forgot* much I enjoy cooking in my kitchen. Since I've been back (all of two days) I've made beer-batter fried fish with spiced rice, coffee cake, and chicken and potato curry. Oh, yum!

I much of a mess I make when I finally get home and work on unloading all the goodies I've brought home. Thanks to generous donors all the kids are now wearing new (to them) clothes and Crocs.

I forgot* quickly kids grow and change when you're away for two months. Boy, do they ever!

*I didn't really forget all these things. They're too good to forget. But do you get the idea that I'm happy to be home? I really, truly am.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Traveling Fun

I am happily and safely back in Zambia. The trip home was fairly uneventful. I had three flights instead of two because of the British Airways strike. 
Normally with British Airways we get three bags included with our ticket but for some reason this didn't happen this time. I had to use three different airlines and so the luggage situation was a bit complicated but it all worked out after some repacking right at the airport. 
My only mishaps in flying were that I arrived at the boarding gate in London for the wrong flight. I didn't know there were two flights going to South Africa that night so I waited for the #55 instead of the #57. At least I was at the earlier flight and didn't miss mine. Aside from some bruised pride I was ok. I had a coffee at a little shop and then headed down to the gate for my flight. I was pretty early and then the flight was delayed because new staff had to be trained quickly to replace the ones on strike. I got tired of waiting and laid my head down on my luggage in the crowded waiting area. Next thing I knew I woke up and the area was nearly empty. There were only a few people left in line. Once again I was red-faced. I was really just glad I woke up in time!

I ended up flying out of Houston on Continental, out of London on British Airways down to South Africa, and then South African Airways to Zambia. With all those airline changes it was no wonder that one of my suitcases didn't arrive with me. Unfortunately it was the one that had nearly all my clothes and shoes. I did have a couple changes of clothes but only one pair of shoes. By the time I got my suitcase back I had been wearing those heels for over 5 days. I was so ready for a change!

When we went to the airport to pick up my suitcase we were led through back areas to the storage room. As we got close to the baggage area we could hear a woman shouting and hollering about something. We didn't recognize the language she was speaking. When the airline representative opened the door she muttered "pornography". We wondered what she was talking about and looked in the direction of the hollering. We thought perhaps someone had been caught with 'bad' magazines. But, lo and behold, there was a stark naked woman standing there. A customs official ran over and tried to cover her chest with a newspaper. Her traveling companion was the one that was shouting and making such a fuss. She kept miming doing a cavity search. Through some explanation from the airport official and our own deductions we figured that these women were told that they and their belongings would need to be searched for drugs. The one lady stripped off her clothes in protest. 
By the time we got our suitcases (one of our volunteers who arrived the day before me lost hers too) and made our way back to customs things were a bit calmer. The two ladies were from Angola so they only spoke Portuguese and broken English. They seemed to be inexperienced with traveling and the airport personnel had their hands full assisting them with all the procedures.
It certainly made our day that much more interesting. If for no other reason, I'm glad to be back in Africa because you never know from one day to the next what you might experience.
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