27 November 2006

On the Way Home...

I was on the way home. Finally, actually on my real way home. Not the fake way home that I thought I was taking before.

So, I went to the market by myself tonight, and we live a bit farther out now, so I was trying to take a bus home. I was asking for help, but most people rattled off to me lots and lots of Arabic as I stared at them in dis-belief. Sometimes I'm shocked that they would actually think I could understand all that?! Do I look African?

Anyway, to make a long story short... I got on the wrong bus and ended up very far away from home. I was literally 'on the other side of the tracks!!' We're talking vast fields of nothingness and cattle ranches (at least that is what it smelled like).

So, I got off the bus when I saw signs of human life and bargained with a rickshaw driver to take me back where I meant to be going in the first place. This time there was no room for confusion. His price was my only measure of how far away from home I actually was. "Five thousand?" Yikes, that's far.

We took off. 9 o'clock and freezing with the cold air blowing around in the rickshaw. My poor little toesies aren't used to this weather. The driver asked me if he could stop for gas. No problem. And as we approached the gas station... it was lit up in green (like BP) and for a split second I thought to myself "Oh, this is perfect!! While he's filling up I'll just run inside and grab a cappuccino to warm me up on my way home."

[deflating sigh]

Of course I knew right away that that isn't possible here. But isn't it funny how your mind plays tricks on you sometimes?

25 minutes later. I was finally home. And now I'm settling for a cup of chamomile tea.

22 November 2006

It's Official

Well, my friends, It's official. There are no more black plastic storage trunks in my life.

Today was a momentous occasion for me. My heart filled with joy as I emptied the contents of the last black tub into the cabinet, and carried the tote across the house to join the collection of other empties.

It has been 4 months that I have dug around in those things each day for my shirts, extra lotion, printer paper, games, etc. But NOW, I am free from the temporary luggage, and I am living like a real person who keeps their belongings in a closet! Or in a cabinet! Or in a drawer!! Or in a nice looking basket on the shelf! Anywhere, but in a black tub!!

Feeling more and more like we're actually living here...

09 November 2006


On Monday, one of our Arabic teachers said that we would have a test on Wednesday. I thought "No way... he doesn't really mean that!" They've never given tests before, and I thought it was just another one of those things that get said, but never really happen. And we don't really get grades in this school, so why test?

Nevertheless, it prompted me to study. Not because I fully believed that we would have a test, but just because...

31 October 2006


It's 4 am. I tried sleeping. I really did. For an hour or so I laid there. Then I gave reading a shot and skimmed through 75 pages of a book. Then I thought maybe a little snack, a quick trip to the bathroom and my eye-blinder would do the trick. But I laid in bed for at least another hour. Wide awake.

So then I just got plain frustrated and got up. Now I've been on the internet for 1 hour and 44 minutes. Not doing anything particular... just wasting time reading stuff and battling with one pesky mosquito. I've had numerous chances to smash it, but I fear the noise of my hands slapping together would wake Mike, and he'd be really delirious and confused about why I wasn't in bed. It might be mildly entertaining for me to see him get up and look for me, but I rather he keep sleeping... he needs it.

I'm meant to wake up at 6:50 so we can be on the bus to language school at 7:30. Not gonna happen. Think I'll fall asleep in the next hour or so? Then when the alarm goes off, I'll tell Mikey that I'm not going anywhere and guiltily roll over and snuggle my head back into the pillow for another couple hours. Don't I deserve it?... it's been a rough night.

The problem is my mind. It won't stop racing. Too much to think about. So much happening (and not so much happening all at the same time) How's a girl to slow down her mind when there is so much buzzing around inside of it? Drives me nuts.

Question: Am I an insomniac because I have sporadic sleepless nights?...

29 October 2006


Never thought I'd pay 4 dollars for a dozen eggs. 4 stinkin' dollars. Maybe I should take into account that they are most likely 'organic' eggs (they're kinda puny, so I don't think they've caught onto the use of hormones yet), and in the U.S., people pay a bunch of money for organic foods. But I must admit I never paid extra for anything organic! Anyway... 4 bucks for 12. That makes each one 33 cents each. We had a friend who accidently dropped one, and her husband gasped and looked on with horror... she quickly scooped it into a cup and put in the fridge so that it wouldn't go to waste. Couldn't bear to see 33 cents go down the drain like that....

I think this recent egg-inflation is taking the biggest hit on Mike. Poor guy. I had to cut his 3-egg omelet down to 2 eggs, and also cut back his omelet consumption in general... he's having a hard time coping.
he he

Think of me when you crack open your 8 cent egg...

22 October 2006

Eid Eve

Today was the first time I went to the market by myself. Don't ask me why I chose today. Pretty sure it is the equivalent of the Day-after-Thanksgiving shopping in the U.S. See, tomorrow is the Muslim Holiday Eid. It is the celebration of the end of Ramadan (the month of fasting during daylight hours). And they celebrate this holiday by visiting all their friends and family, and eating like horses! It's the biggest holiday of the year. Everyone is wanting to look their best, have their home in tip-top condition, and serve the nicest refreshments this week to their visitors. Everyone is making special preparations.

So anyway, the market was madness! It's a good thing Mike didn't come... he would be HATED every moment. There are at least twice as many people selling things as usual, and I think every citizen of Khartoum is out there buying from them. It was full on pushing and shoving, rummaging and bartering.

And I had a GREAT time.

Of course, I got much more attention than I would have liked... (got a marriage proposal today, because Mikey wasn't by my side to scare off the fellas). But I ignored all the stares and bargained with the best of 'em. Sometimes I think I actually got the local price, and not the foreigner price!

They were selling anything you could imagine... especially if you were in the market for some gaudy-middle-easternish decorations, cheap clothing, plastic shoes, fake-brand cosmetic products, and mobile phone accessories. You know... the typical third world local market kinda stuff.

The place was bustling... with loud music playing at some shops, and other areas had all their workers saying some sort of a chant to tell everyone the price and try to sell more stuff. People arguing over prices, buying fancy sweets, greeting each other... all the while walking on more garbage in the streets than you have ever seen.

The sun was beating down and I was exhausted by the time I reached back home with my purchases. But I had a wonderful time, and somehow... I feel a bit more at home here having experienced this day out there with all the rest.

16 October 2006


Last night, our bedroom reached an ALL-TIME low of 77.2 degrees. (gotta love those portable digital clock/thermometers!) I woke up in the middle of the night to pull an extra cover on. And then I woke up again, later... still COLD! It was 77, and I was so cold.

That is not normal.

Anyway, this morning at school we asked our teacher how to say blanket. Later this week we're gonna go shopping for some bataaniyya...

18 September 2006

A New Worldview (for driving, that is)

I did it. I can't believe I actually did it.

Today, at 7:30am, I got behind the drivers seat of our 1980 periwinkle Honda Accord with two very trusting passengers. And I drove like I have NEVER driven before.

On the way down the stairs to the car as I was thinking of what was about to transpire, for the first time in my life I had the urge to make the sign of the cross over my heart. And I followed the urge (followed by a little giggle... does that make me a heretic?).

You may be thinking... "They're living in Africa... bet they don't see many cars, but just a lot of mud huts and donkey carts." Let me assure you, there must be millions of cars in this city. And today, I joined their ranks.

Okay. Here's how it is: No lines on the road. Few traffic lights. No right-of-way rules. No signs. No speed limits. No nothin but a bunch of people trying to get to a bunch of places (very quickly).

I thought it might take me some time to get used to it. But after a couple REALLY close calls right of the bat (neither one my fault, of course)... I created my own driving philosophies. Two, to be specific.

First Driving Philosophy: It is always my turn.

There are only two ways to answer the expected question "Whose turn IS it to go?"(asked with a annoyed, confused and frustrated tone). Either you believe that it is always your turn to go, or if you refuse to adopt that seemingly ethnocentric driving worldview... then you must accept the fact that it is NEVER your turn. I chose the first. So when coming to an intersection packed with cars facing every direction, I think "Oh... this could be tricky... how will I ever get to the other side? But wait... it's my turn... so I'll just go ahead and push on through!" Or, when wanting to fill the vacant spot in the road to your left (even if there are many others also vying for the same spot) you must think "Look at that lovely place for my car to fit. In fact, that's the very spot I'd like to be. Good thing it's my turn... I'll just take it" (then you proceed by beeping your horn 2 times and then steering the car to the left).

If you are the unfortunate soul that feels too 'nice' and 'selfless' to be a bit aggressive... my friend, you will for sure be the one sitting in the exact same intersection all day long not budging an inch while cars maneuver in every direction around you.

Second Driving Philosophy: Don't be fearful about the lack of regulations... but BE FREE!

It seemed scary that there were no rules at first. But I've quickly grown quite fond. The only thing you need to know is that you are responsible for getting yourself to your destination of choice. That's it. Whether you feel the best way to get there is through a muddy field filled with potholes and grazing goats or driving the wrong way around a roundabout... go for it!! No one is stopping you. Really. No one cares.

The other implications of this, my driving philosophy #2, is that because there are no rules and no one cares... it also means that no one judges you for any of the choices you make during your driving efforts. Whatever it is you decide to do... for sure you're not the first one to have done it. You won't be the last either. So you are able to drive in freedom, with neither the police pulling you over nor your fellow car-driving peers rolling their eyes at you because of your actions.

So, this brings us to the end of my not-so-wise-wisdom. I freely share it with you. And maybe someday (when you come to visit) you can take us for a spin and see for yourself how great it really is.

17 September 2006

The Dressing Place

There is one cool spot in our house. That’s right… only one. It’s the same one that we have chosen to serve as our office, our living room, and most recently… it has also become our bedroom.

But before it was all these things… it was Mikey’s dressing room. Made me giggle when I figured out what he was doing.

Let me explain.

See… my sister and I had the privilege of growing up in a house heated entirely by one wood-burning stove. Was it a romantic log cabin deep in the mountains? nope. Was it a one-room-schoolhouse-turned-home-for-four? nope. Was it built off the grid? nope. Was it built before modern technology? nope.

he he

It was, however, owned by one of the most efficient, wise, and thrifty men you have ever known… my beloved father.

Sometimes I think back to the winter evenings that he, my sister, and I spent traipsing through the woods with armloads of wood. We’d hold our arms out, and Dad would stack us up with chopped wood. And I think of how I was most often nominated as the one who should climb into the small wood-bin to stack the wood (that is the most efficient way of fitting the most in, you know) while Daddy and Sarah chucked it in the door at me. (Okay… maybe they really didn't chuck it at me). Once the bin was full, we’d play some fox and goose, write “We love you Mom” in the snow with our tracks, drink some hot chocolate, and call it a night. Pretty sure I hated hauling wood in those days. But now, as a mature adult (uh… kinda) I can see why it was a good thing for a couple scrawny girly girls to do as children. And now I’m kinda glad we had to do it. (Ever think I’d thank you for that, Dad?)

BUT… the landing on which the wood stove resided was, in fact… the warmest place in the house (of course). And I have certain memories of Sar and I grabbing our clothes, and rushing down to the landing to get dressed on the especially cold mornings. It was much more bearable to sit and try to get into those tapered leg jeans and pull on the turtleneck and neon sweater near the warmth of the stove than in the bedroom.

This brings me back to my point. The other day... my dear, dear Mikey… grabbed his clothes from the muggy bedroom and went to get dressed near the cooler that was producing the coldest air.

Some things never change...

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