Saturday, March 29th: Well, that was a useless night’s sleep! Jonathon managed to stay in bed for a whopping hour and half from 2-3:30 before deciding that he’d much prefer to be with us and nurse the rest of the morning. That was OK I guess since I was up at 3 a.m. too, but I’m wondering if this twin bed thing is going to work out.
Not that we have a choice at the moment so let’s hope tonight goes better. At least he and I got in a shower. This place doesn’t have bathtubs, but the showers are from one wall to the other, marble tile lined and have a very short step, so if you plug up the drain you can conceivably raise the water level a few inches and have a mini-pool. Not that it’s very safe as we all know how tile gets when it’s wet. We’re getting a bath mat in our shipment but we may need to buy one or two more. He slipped and bonked his head after not wanting to be held anymore so we’ll have to find an alternative soon.
Anyhow, by 9 a.m. we were ready to do something so we went next door to the playground which the kids thoroughly enjoyed, for about 15 minutes before complaining about the heat. Mental note, go to the playground before 9 a.m. Made it back to the house where Ian called up the Trotts who live 3 doors down. A short while later we went over to their home and met their son, their 2 dogs a Bichon Frise named Chubby and a Great Dane named Chewy. The dogs were a huge hit with all the kids even though the Great Dane is as big as a horse for Jonathon and the whip of a tail was mighty dangerous as it was just his head height.
We piled into their Ford Expedition and headed over to the nearest mall, called the Powerplant mall since it was on the space of a former power plant. Clever, huh? We wandered around and saw the grocery store Rustans, along with every sort of brand name shop in the hemisphere. There was also a food court on most of one floor. It’s a different sort of food court where the tables in the middle are designated for specific food places that act more like sit down restaurants than fast food. There’s an outdoor lot with rockwall climbing and trampolines and a paintball zone. There’s an indoor paintball shooting range. There was a line in the shop for cell phones and prepaid phone cards. Everyone here has a cell phone and this is the text messaging capital of the world. Folks talk on one phone while texting with another, it’s bizarre. There are signs in the street that say No Texting While Driving and No Texting While Crossing Street. Speaking of road signs, there are plenty of them with catch phrases and suggested behavior (Do Not Block Intersection, No Jay Walking), but few signs that are useful for actual driving, say street signs.
OK, back in the mall it was lunch time and I was aiming for something interesting but our hosts were headed for McDonalds, so that’s where we went with a pit stop at a French sandwich shop where Rebecca asked for a sandwich with lettuce, mayonnaise and cheese on wheat bread. Thank goodness she liked the Brie. At McDonalds we discovered that everything you order comes with a side of plain rice. And McDonalds serves plates of spaghetti, chicken and the new McDo (short for McDonalds) Rice Burger. I can’t say what was inside looked like meat, but more like a seaweed patty. And the part that would normally be bread was flattened patties of… rice. OK, I’ll admit that none of us was bold enough to actually try it. But I did get a chicken with side of rice, and Katherine got a plate of spaghetti. The boys had their standby nuggets and fries.
Took a drive by the local Santis for meat, the local pharmacy Mercury Drug, by ISM and the British School next door, and saw the large local Catholic Church called San Antonio. It’s too far to walk to from the house, so we’ll have to find something closer, especially since we have no personal mode of transportation yet. Jonathon fell asleep in the car around 1p.m. after we did our grocery shopping for more milk, fruit and various other items, none of them too exciting. At home, we plopped him in his room carseat and all for a nap. Feeling a little tired myself, I went and curled up on our bed where Nicholas joined me a few minutes later. Ian was stretching out on the couch, Rebecca found a cozy piece of carpet and (can you see where this is going?) Katherine got bored so curled up in a chair.
Before I know it, it’s 6:30 p.m. and the whole house is still sleeping and no one was happy to be awoken, least of all Nicholas. At first we were totally confused, wondering if it was 6:30 in the morning and the sun was rising or if we had saved enough of the night by waking in the evening. Thankfully it got darker and while no one really wanted to be up, wake up we did and to get our blood pumping we set out on a walk to find a school nearby that had a chapel. We figured that it would be a good adventure and keep the kids awake and I do believe that the biggest hits on the walk for me was to see the other houses up close even in the dark, and for the kids was to see the cockroaches scurrying around and the random stray cat. Earlier in the day Ian had made a quick map of where the school was and before long we found it and discovered there was an 8 a.m. service and a 10 a.m. service. OK, let’s be realistic. We’re still all going to be up way before the crack of dawn, and by 10 a.m. a 20 minute walk will be scorching. So we settled on the 8 a.m. and walked back, fighting to keep Jonathon awake and Nicholas moving and the girls from tripping over their own feet. We do know why everyone walks in the streets now which bodes not so well for traffic. The sidewalks are very iffy, if they’re there at all. Tree roots push up sections, parts disappear to driveways, trash pickup means some portions are blocked by bags, some ripped into strays, and no one clears the trees and bush branches from whacking you in the head. Oh right, trash pick-up. They do it twice. Not twice a week, twice every night. You can put out bags of trash at anytime and it should be gone within 12-24 hours. I’m not kidding! Everyone puts out every bit of trash from regular sized bags to little baggie sized waste. Apparently there’s a recycling truck that comes by as well, but we haven’t seen it.
So we made it back home to play some MasterMind and Chess and finally packed everyone off to bed around 10:30 p.m. in hopes that they would be better adjusted. The girls made it to 6 a.m. while Nicholas made it to 5 a.m. and mom and Jonathon were up at 3 a.m. But that’s better, right?
Sunday, March 30th: We thought we’d go to the 10 a.m. Mass at the chapel, but with everyone up around 5 a.m. and the day already progressing to warm, we marched out around 7:30 for the 8 a.m. service. We were there early, but needn’t have worried at Mass began around 8:10-8:15. There was no music at all, the chapel is outdoors so thank goodness for lots of fans, and everyone was silent. We were the only folks there with children, so every noise they made seemed louder than it really was. Mass was totally in English and very short. I spent part of my time outside with the boys since there was nothing to keep them occupied, not even missals as the weekly liturgy is printed out and Jonathon thought it would be great fun to chew it then rip it. But it was all very short and we were walking home by 8:45. I now remember back to my days in Africa and how Communion was run as a free for all as the entire church gets up and moves to the aisle at one time, but during Mass I’d forgotten, so it seemed like chaos today.
When we got home, Mike Trott called and offered us a ride to Mass which we had to decline. Around noon we walked down the street to their home where they had generously offered to host us for lunch. It was a welcome meal as last night all I’d managed to make was some salad and no one was hungry enough to eat it. And after lunch, the pool was open for business and the kids had a blast. Thank goodness I’d lathered them up in sunscreen as it was in full sun for part of the afternoon. Wendy Trott and I chatted while everyone else was in the pool and she’s a font of information and anecdotes. She did seem a little concerned when I said I wasn’t going to hire a yaya and wondered how I would attend Ladies Functions. Ladies Functions aren’t at the top of my list, so I’m not worried about that, but she was insistent that I would have trouble meeting people unless I would be able to get out without the kids, or even go grocery shopping. What I’ve been looking forward to instead is not functions, but rather hiring someone to do the basic housekeeping thereby leaving my hands free to play with my kids. That’s what I’m aiming for, so my ultimate hire would be someone who comes in part-time (say 9-3) with the option of staying longer to babysit if we need to go somewhere in the evening. But a nanny is not someone I want or need.