Friday, December 21, 2007

The best trip yet

Exactly two years ago today I met the sweetest little boy in Karachi, Pakistan.
I’d flown half way around the world for only one reason: to meet him.
He didn’t have a name just yet, but his mom was pretty sure she knew what she was going to call him. It was the name she’d been thinking of for a little boy since she was young.
For those three weeks I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life – meeting wonderful people, seeing beautiful places, and becoming a
Today, he’s a bopping two year old, full of life, and darn smart.
And he’s going to be a big brother. Correction: he’s going to be a great big brother.
Knowing how long the journey was to bring him home, and how loved his new little siblings will be, I cried buckets when she called to tell me the amazing news.
I am so happy for him and my dear friend and her husband and family.
I wish every story had just as happy an ending.

Eid mubarak.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stateside - the sequel

Well – I’m back.
Physically, anyhow. Mentally I’m still stuggling. I think that’s mostly the pre-Christmas thing, and it’s rapidly becoming worse as I enter panic flat spin over Christmas gifts.
Yes I could have shopped for everyone in Africa, and no, I could not possibly have brought it all back with me.
As it was, I had three very heavy and overloaded suitcases, and three items to carry on to the plane, with a fourth bag tucked inside.
It was a disaster at the airport.
Actually, it was a disaster all day. I managed to shove all three suitcases and the carry-ons down my apartment stairs, and load up my little Renault. It occurred to me that a lot of people can pack everything they own into their car. I am not one of those people, obviously, because I know damn well how much more crap I have at home.
No sooner had I left the electrified fence of my complex for one last time, when a tire blew. I’ve actually never had a flat in my life – and have only vague ideas about how I would change a tire. I’m pretty sure it happened on Who’s the Boss, with hilarious results, but having neither Angela or Tony nearby, and not keen on learning a new skill at the side of the road in Johannesburg, I flipped on the hazard lights, and drove very very slowly to the office.
It was kind of like being in a parade – everyone stopped and stared, pointing and gesturing. I smiled serenely at them, nodding, and acting as though driving on the rims was perfectly normal.
By the time I reached the parking lot at work, the rubber was hanging in shreds, and the wheel was practically off. But, my luggage and I made it – so no problemo.
True to form, no one in the office batted an eyelid as I walked in. Actually, not many people were even there. Guessing correctly that absolutely no thought had been put into how I was going to get to the airport, I inquired about a taxi. I was handed a couple of phone numbers, and spoke to the companies – one of which “doesn’t go to the airport anymore” and the other of which had no cabs available that day.
Pretty typical.
Any other ideas? Nope. Also pretty typical.
I picked up the phone to call my client. It might be in poor taste to ask your client for a ride to the airport, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and she, at least, would be happy to help.
Thankfully, another woman in the office, overhearing my predicament, offered to help, and managed to get me a lift to the airport.
I had more than six hours before my flight left, but I wasn’t in any mood to hang around anymore, and left immediately, stopping by the client’s quickly to say goodbye.
There were about a million people at the airport. A million plus me, trying to push a badly overloaded trolley through the crowds.
The woman at the baggage weighing station looked at me with not an ounce of sympathy, and pointed me in the direction of the “excess baggage” area. I took one look at the crowd I’d have to push the cart through, and just left it. An airport worker half-heartedly tried to convince me to take my belongings with me, but I assumed an air of importance, and brushed him aside.
1,000 rand for an extra bag seemed a reasonable price to pay, and I checked in as fast as possible, giddy with relief when the three suitcases disappeared down the conveyer belt. I headed to the lounge to wait.
Two glasses of wine, one bag of peanuts, and three magazines later, I made my way to the gate, and boarded the plane. Again, I was met with looks of disdain as I explained to the flight attendant that I needed to fit not one, but three pieces of luggage somewhere in the crevices of the cabin. Thankfully, not everyone was being as stupid as me, and there was actually some extra space for my stuff.
I’ll spare you the details of the 8 hour flight to Senegal, and the remaining 10 hour flight to New York. Suffice to say, I watched every movie they had. I think I watched Hairspray twice. Something about John Travolta in a dress made me giggle. Maybe it was the altitude.
Now an expert at the “way too much luggage” game, I rocked the baggage claim at JFK, and found a cab with a trunk big enough for all my shit.
I only had one more obstacle to go in order to get everything into my sister’s apartment: the stairs at the bottom of her building. Poor Gus the doorman – he didn’t know what to do. Trained to be helpful at all costs, he was helpless in the face of the barrage of luggage. Nevertheless, he gallantly held the door open on each of my five trips up and down the stairs. Good man.
I was now officially stateside, jetlagged, and dying to meet my new nephew.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Well - just because I'm back on this side of the Atlantic, doesn't mean that I don't owe you a few posts that didn't make it.
I have a few written that just need posting - and gosh darn it - that's what I'm gonna do.

Here's another word of the day:
Sac a papier. Say it mean, with a French accent.
Meaning: paper sac.
But apparently, according to my French buddies on safari, in France, you can actually use it as an obscenity. As in "You ignorant pig dog. Sac a papier - I should run you through with this sword." Or something.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Hello, and yes, I am fully aware that my last blog post is gathering much dust. As Christmas madness, the return trip home, oh yes - and work - all loom, I'm endeavouring to finish the blogs of the Botswana trip, the doom-signifying prevalence of men in capri pants, and fun things to do with 5kg of scuba weights in a plane. Patience.
Here - enjoy a picture of my nephew talking to me on the phone as you wait.
Isn't he clever?