Bon Arrivee! (one day I'll figure out correct spelling and how to put in accents)
29-30 AUGUST 2005 – Boo to Air France
They sold us a seat with bad electrical wiring so it didn’t recline, forgot to give me my dinner and then woke me up way too early for breakfast. The last was Ian’s fault, but I’ll still blame the airline. On the second flight they shifted people around for takeoff and landing in order to have an adult with every child. Uh… we’ve never done that before.
The cheese plates stank. Literally.
On the other hand, Jonathon slept all but 20 minutes of the first leg and I got sleep in a properly reclining chair in the second. Katherine was my seat partner and she was busy with Sudoku.
But I guess the most important thing is that we made it to Togo, along with our luggage. Our sponsors, the Corrao family, were there and prepared to get us home. Our house is way too big so I know that, like goldfish, we’ll expand and fill it with more crap than any family ought to have. Our den is actually a 4th bedroom, so when our bed comes we’ll stick it in there along with the TV and computer. We’ll have so few guests that having a duel purpose room should be no problem.
1 SEPTEMBER 2005 – So Very Tired
I don’t know if it’s jet lag, staying up until midnight or stress (most likely all three) but I’m really out of sorts. It’ll get better, I know it will. But we’re not in a compound anymore, we’re not in the States anymore, we’re in a former Ambassador’s house that’s right on a main road, with no full-time guard.
I know that in the grand scheme of things, we are safe. But it’s so hard to accept that when we’re running on adrenaline, surrounded by people we don’t know who speak a language that’s foreign. Oh, soon I’ll be able to hit the grocery store with no problem, but I’ll never be comfortable taking a taxi there, nor am I comfortable with the security here in general. Once we have “stuff” and a car, we’ll get a daytime guard. But then, how do you trust someone to watch your family and your belongings? The worst offenders of threat and theft seem to be those hired to prevent exactly those things. I have a hard time trusting anyone to begin with, this is really going to test my boundaries.
And the kids. Our poor kids. They were brought to school, unknown to them that it would be for the whole day. I’ll be surprised if Nicholas wants to go back tomorrow. He doesn’t deal well with change at all. Katherine was on the verge of tears but kept strong. Rebecca wasn’t sure she wanted to go to school at all. Jonathon barely noticed we left. This morning we’d prepped the kids for a quick visit to the school to meet their teachers and see their classrooms. They didn’t even bring backpacks because I had no food in the house to make lunches. Come to find out that the school offers hot lunch each day and today was lasagna, so without further ado, the kids joined their classes.
The school is small. So very very small. I hope they’ll be happy there. Katherine is in a combined 3/4/5 class, while Rebecca and Nicholas are in a combined K/1/2 class. Jonathon is one of 7 kids in the preschool 2/3/4yo class. The older kids have new teachers and the rooms aren’t set up well yet, so I know they felt really lost.
The one good thing that pops right up is that the school is very close to home. Once we get our car it will be no big deal to get there or pick them up. I’ll let the Embassy van drive them to school in the morning since Ian will be with them, but then I can get them at the end of the day, or arrive myself in the afternoon to spend time in the library or the classrooms, whatever needs to be done.
The Embassy is small. The compound is poorly designed, the hallways are tight, the rooms are cluttered. It’s no Manila. You don’t appreciate a lovely Chancery until you don’t have one anymore. And the Grand Marche really does butt right up against the compound. The longest travel time is the street before the entrance. I can’t wait to see the new building. It’s farther out, nearer to the British School (which is in a “gated” community), so we’ll have to see what our school plans are for next year. Everything depends on how this year goes. There is a good mix of nationalities (no Americans but ours), so at least they aren’t the only white kids.
Would it be a negative project to do a countdown chart? We’re down a day, only 700+ more to go.
Yeah, we’ve already asked ourselves what drove us to move here.
Everything will look better once the kids feel comfortable at school, we have our car (I –hate- not having my own transportation, even if it’s just to go to the school 5 minutes away), our consumables come (groceries, what a nightmare at this moment) and we’ve had a weekend to just enjoy being here, all together. Yesterday was our first day and Ian had a full day of work while the kids and I unpacked our UAB from Arlington. It was a productive day and each day will hopefully just get better.
I want my kids home though, I imagine they will be completely worn out this afternoon. I want them home for them and for me. I don’t like being alone and I really hate the people who ring the bell and then ask for the guard. We don’t have a day guard so when I say that I feel like I’m being sized up. The more people here, the better… I should have homeschooled, then we’d always be home. Ok, now I’m letting it get to me.
I just know that if I call home, I’ll cry. Tired, jet lag, stress. All three.
2 SEPTEMBER 2005 – Glorious sleep
It’s amazing what a little bit of sleep does for the psyche. Today was a much better day. In fact, once the kids returned home from school yesterday, everything got better. They went for a swim in the pool, after we scooped out a lizard from the bottom which had apparently fallen in from an overhanging tree branch. The lizards here are way cool, just like I remember them from Niamey. The pool is small and very deep, nearly 5’ in the shallow end.
The school is small, but the kids came home happy yesterday. Seeing them happy lifted me out of my glum hole. Nicholas gave a big hug and said “French is hard.” French kids don’t learn print, do they? Nicholas was writing cursive small As and today came home saying French was better because cursive small Rs aren’t as difficult. Katherine has done art, next week the kids start music and P.E. and I have my fingers crossed that this will be good. For everyone.
The house was bug sprayed this afternoon, so once Ian came home from his half-day (yay Friday!) and the kids were picked up from school, we went next door to the hotel to have some drinks. At 6 p.m. we walked to the Lebanese grocery store down the street that thankfully has a little of everything and plenty of spices, before going to dinner at La Nuit de l’Orient directly across from our gate. Pizzas all around, personal thin crust pizza. I had the crepes for dessert while the kids had ice cream and ian had a pastry. The crepes, sadly tasted like they’d been cooked in the same pan as some smoked fish.
We haven’t been careful with our food consumption. Ian purchased a handful of soft maize cakes, off the top of a passing woman’s head. With our dinner we had ice in the drinks and ate raw vegetables from the platter. If we’re sick in the morning, everyone will know why.
I did our laundry which wasn’t as cumbersome as I’d anticipated since I brought one load out at a time. The washer and dryer are housed in a separate building in our yard. Tomorrow we’re going to a Labor Day party and perhaps the Marine House. Sunday, the Corrao’s are meeting us as church then we’re going to Cocoa Beach for lunch. Monday is a holiday for Ian but not for the kids, so hopefully it’ll be a quiet day at home. I thought it would be a quiet weekend, but Ian filled it up with Schtuff.
Tonight we’ll call home. I did yesterday and talked to mom at work, tonight the kids can talk too.