Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"Busy" days

Time passes quickly when I look at the dates of journal posts. It’s really been 6 days since the last one? That happens with spotty phone service. No phone, no dial-up. And with scheduled outages like Saturday night’s attempt to calm the country by taking out the phone and the power, it’s no wonder I don’t get posts up more often.

I’m happy to say that we’re chock full of news. Of course, this is Togo, so my chock full equals about an average full for a stateside family.
First off, the pool is fixed. Not just patched or “we’ll make do” kinda fixed, but fixed with a new pool filter and completely new wiring to the pool house. As Anakin would say, “IT’S WORKING!!” The kids have enjoyed swimming just about every day since.
Saturday, they didn’t swim in our pool. We (along with the rest of the Embassy) were invited to the DCMs house (DCM=Deputy Chief of Mission, who is currently the Chargé as well because Ambassador David Dunne hasn’t been sworn in yet) for a low-key get-together. I finally met several people Ian has mentioned, one being Barbara Martin who served in Kinshasa in 1979-1980, the same years I lived in (former) Zaire. Of course I was 5-6 years old then so most people she rattled off I had vague memories of, if any. It was nice to chat with her and you’d think it wouldn’t be this hard to see people, but I don’t go to the Embassy unless I have to and no one has been to our house yet. That will hopefully change on Saturday for our first game night.
During the DCMs party, Togo played Congo in the World Cup qualifying match. Togo won 3-2 just as the skies opened. The rain didn’t stop the entire city of Lomé from pouring into the streets, soaking their yellow Epervier (Hawks) shirts and bandanas and spontaneously creating parades and block parties. This is Togo’s first ever entry into the World Cup (played next year in Germany), so President Faure Gnassingbe proclaimed Monday a holiday. While I’m glad Togo won, I fear what will happen when the team finally does lose. No one I’ve spoken to have any real hopes they’ll win the finals.
Monday was a holiday for the Togolese and Columbus Day for Ian yet the school was still open. Our gardener didn’t show up to work and neither did several teachers, but the stores were open so Ian and I took advantage of child-free time to do grocery shopping at Champion, Marox and SupeRamco. Each store has wildly different items. Champion has a wide variety of boxed and canned items (though we’ve sworn off the canned foods), Marox is the meat place, and SupeRamco has just about everything else including a good refrigerated section for yogurt, cheese, cream, etc. Since Champion and Marox are across the road from each other and at the outskirts of the Grand Marché, we bought vegetables at the market. Ian mentioned a fishmonger a while back. He hasn’t visited her yet, but I look forward to fresh fish too.
Eventually we’ll get our stuff, including our consumables shipment. Can you hear the resignation? It’s just reality. So far we’ve tried canned peas, canned Brussels sprouts, canned lychee, canned kiwi and canned fruit cocktail, none of which have been good. Fresh or frozen is definitely the way to go. I’m looking forward to having our own food arrive. I have no idea where in the world it is though we did hear that our sea freight from Manila is in Antwerp awaiting space on a cargo ship headed for Lomé. It’ll be just like Christmas when it comes. Or as Jeff aptly noticed, it may BE Christmas when it comes. How many ships leaving Antwerp have Lomé on their port list? Our sea freight from Arlington is still waiting to clear customs here. It’s been in country for 10 days so far.
So, in the meantime we’re keeping ourselves busy with Sable, our puppy. The home visit vet came by last night and declared her relatively healthy. She is just shy of 6 weeks old, so she received her first shot (a four vaccination cocktail), has daily vitamins and antibiotics and another visit scheduled in 3 weeks. Last night I only woke up with her at 2 a.m. and that was my choice, she hadn’t made any noise. The vet thought her name was hilarious, as sable is sand in French, the color of her fur and also recalling where we got her. Under description in her vaccination card, the vet had to come up with another name. She’s listed as “beige.” Oh, and yes, she’s a She. I never would have made it through veterinarian school.
As for the rest of the crew, they’re all doing well. Nicholas still enjoys dressing up whenever he can. It’s not unusual to have him off to school in dress pants and a button down shirt. Jonathon is the oldest in his class, some by a couple weeks others by a couple years. He has the greatest issues with the 2yo. Not only does little Andy bite (Jonathon has the marks to prove it), but Andy doesn’t color in the lines either. Ian and I had an early conference with Katherine’s teacher last Friday and we’ve outlined a plan for challenging her more, with word problem math and a self-led (mom guided) course in American History on top of her in-class World History. Rebecca has connected with the puppy. She’s always been a bit of an outside with her siblings, so I think the puppy will be great for her. Someone she can complain to as much as she wants when life becomes totally unfair.
All together, they’ve been swimming, building lego villages and putting on plays at home. The plays are elaborate affairs with each child taking on two separate roles, complete with costumes. The show with the Nicholas-dragon was particularly impressive.
So that’s the update from here. We saw on the news the earthquake in Pakistan and India. With another 30,000 people believed dead, the past year has been a horrible one for natural disasters.

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