Thursday, October 6, 2005

This would have been posted last night, but...

Our phone was out. Which means our dial-up was out. Today it's still flaky, but eh, what can you do?

Frustration: frus•tra•tion \,frs-`trâ-shn\ n. disappointment, defeat
[I couldn't get the little upside down Es into moveable type, sorry]
The actual definition makes the term “frustration” seem too strong. We aren’t defeated, far from it, but we are disappointed in many things. We came to Lomé under the assumption “Africa watches out for its own” (meaning withint the Foreign Service family, it's something we’d heard time and time again) and that those who choose Africa posts enter a sort of one-of-a kind club. We expected life here to be very different and we expected to run into and work alongside folks who have a wild or unpredictable streak in them. This is, after all, Africa. I’ve heard enough people tell me straight to my face they think we’re nuts, or better us than them, and that’s fine. We knew it would be different, hard, challenging.
What we didn’t expect was that the different, hard and challenging would come from our own little community. We didn’t expect that not only would our outside world be a new adventure, but so would maneuvering through daily life in our “comfort” zone. We’ve found ourselves struggling not just out and about, but in work, school and home. Our home, devoid of many personal items, isn’t a welcoming relaxing place. Ian is having difficulties finding satisfaction at work. You’ve already heard plenty about the school.
But, I’m not going to rant about that stuff in this entry. I’m determined, and WE are determined, to get ourselves to a better place emotionally and mentally. That starts with searching out every positive we can find.
Birds, frogs, and bugs, oh my! Yeah, there are lots of tropical creatures around and I’m sure we’ll see more as time passes. Last week we played hide-n-seek outside waiting for Ian to get home. I started in to check on dinner when Rebecca and I saw a little orange bird standing by our door. It was small, not more than a few ounces, rust colored with an inch-long bright orange beak. I tried to skirt by it to reach my camera, but no such luck. It flew off into the tree, and with dusk falling there was no way to find it. That same evening I spotted a large frog in our yard and later when the kids wanted to see the frog, we found what appeared to be a 2-inch long cockroach, only with huge pincer jaws. The kids also enjoy seeing the bats come out. Huge flocks (?) of them set out at dusk each evening. Night creatures are alive and well in Lomé.
In other creature news, we checked on the puppies on Saturday. They’ve been moved from under the walkway to a small blocked off patch of grass. Unfortunately, the bugs in the grass combined with puppy waste equals puppies with sores and maggot infestations. Now, I’m not trying to lessen how gross this actually is, because it is plain gross, but the infestations aren’t actually dangerous. Most likely they are Tumbu flies, which burrow, grow and then leave without causing permanent damage to the animal. Of course, internally the puppies probably have worms and other issues, but they’re still too young to be treated by a vet (four weeks old this past weekend), so we hope and wait for them to be fixed up. Ian wanted to grab a puppy now and care for it at home, but there’s little we can do without having it treated and vaccinated first. I’m not going to let a sick puppy in the house, and I’m not going to let the kids play with it, nor do I want to take a still nursing pup away from its mother. We will wait the additional weeks until it’s old enough to leave home and old enough to be treated properly. We’ve ordered puppy formula and a harness collar for the pup and will be purchasing vitamin supplements as well. And guess what, Ian spoke with someone who adopted a dog from a departing family, and asked about his vet. His vet makes house calls! We’re getting his number.
We went to Coco Beach on Saturday in order to catch a later Mass on Sunday. There’s no reason for us to get up for an 8 a.m. Mass, so we opted for the 9:30 instead. Boy was that a mistake. Usually, the masses run right up against each other. The 8 a.m. gets out at 9:30 and the 9:30 people cause a jam at the door. This Sunday, we arrived for the 9:30 Mass at 9:20. At 10 a.m. we were still outside waiting. By 10:15, the 9:30 Mass was underway. Not only was the Mass half in French and half in Ewe, but by 11 a.m. we’d only reached the end of the homily. Unfortunately, our driver was waiting outside because we thought that giving 1 ½ hours for the service would be enough. Since our drop-off and pick-up were scheduled around his morning runs to the airport, we had to leave. I will say this, the Mass may have gone on forever, but the music was very lively with clapping and hand-movements and plenty of swaying from the choir. This coming Sunday we’re attending the Confirmation of one of the Embassy kids.
I think we’ll go to the German restaurant afterwards. One thing Lomé has plenty of is great restaurants to try. I had the capitaine at the last place and it was amazingly good. I suggested to Ian that each weekend we try a new place. We’re also going to start making our own fun, starting with a game night soon. More details as that develops.
Guess it’s time for a pool update. Well, after turning on the pump on Saturday (the kids –really- wanted to swim), the power cut out to the pool house. Sunday morning, the pool had flooded. Sunday afternoon, the house had no water. Sunday evening, the plumber came out and told us that if we turned a particular valve in the pool house, the city water is diverted from going into the water storage tank, directly into the pool. Oops. Closed that valve, set the tank to refill and told the guard to drop the tank floater back in after midnight. Monday, the pool was flooded again, even with ALL the valves shut off. By the afternoon, there was no water in the house again and the day guard told me about an electrical problem in the yard. I asked if there was any smoke. Yes, he said and showed me an area where an underground wire had been exposed, the wire had been slightly cut (by something in the past) and where it had most definitely been smoking. We called the electrician and currently the entire wire from the electrical box to the pool house is being replaced and sealed in a solid cover. So, I then checked the water tank and the guard never dropped the floater back in. I did, an hour later the water was running in the house and the pool stopped spilling over. This evening, the a/c in the dining room and our bedroom wouldn’t turn on. Ian went outside and saw that a fuse had been tripped. He reset it and the a/c works again. While he was out there, he checked out the pool house. There is a brand new pool filter installed. See, told you there was good stuff to tell.
With Saturday’s swimming time, it has come to our attention that Jonathon is teaching himself to swim. He stays on the steps the entire time, but he has started pushing off the last step, taking a stroke or two, then turning around and coming back to the step, all under water. We all know how stubborn he is, this is probably the best way for him to learn.
We even received the last two mattresses for the boys, and they arrived the day after we received the box from my parents with their very own sheets. So far, so good with regards to bug bites. I’m still looking for some safe mattress bug killer though, since I’m not sure how “new” these mattresses are.
We’d ordered from Amazon, received boxes from my parents, and had surprise packages from Jeff, Laura&Ryan, and an on-line friend, Amy. Getting real mail about once every couple weeks is such a highlight for us, you have no idea. Our family and friends have lifted our spirits so much, Ian’s face simply lit up when he saw extra chunky peanut butter. Jeff sent some Louisiana favorites. Amy sent stickers for the kids. Laura and Ryan sent a game and Halloween candy.
We’re working our way through Season 1 of “Lost”. Wonderful show, really enjoying it, can’t wait for Season 2 to end and come out on DVD. We get “Lost” on AFN, but they’re currently still showing Season 1 at a really unfriendly time. I think it’s 6 p.m. on a weekday.
See it’s not all endless frustration. Last Friday we reached our one month anniversary in Togo. No kidding, we’ve been here a month already. We made a chocolate cake to celebrate.

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