Thursday, 18 June 2009

Holidays ahead

We are going on holidays.

We will visit family and friends. We will see green grass and clear skies. We will taste rain and enjoy the cool wind. We will see cows and hear church bells. We will eat Swiss cheese and drink French wine. We will do fun stuff with the kids and spend time with loved ones.

We will spend 72 hours locked in a plane with two weary toddlers. We will be jetlagged by nine hours back and forth. We will get very little sleep going to bed late talking to family and getting up at silly o'clock with kids. We will freeze our butts off in 20 degrees colder than we're used to. We will only spend 10 days together all four of us because of various professional commitments.

Something tells me we will be more tired when we get back than when we left. But hey, that's what holidays are all about, no?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Small world

One of the good things about expat life is that I get to meet a lot of new people almost on a daily basis. They come from all kinds of places and backgrounds and usually they all have a very interesting story to tell. Some leave quickly. Some of them stay for a while and I get to know them better. Some become my friends. Some remain acquaintances. In any case, I am glad they passed through my life. Obviously the downside about this is that at some point we have to say goodbye.

But sometimes the world proves to be small and I come across the same people in totally different places. The Argentinian doctor who treated me for kidney stones in Liberia was the same who signed me off for maternity leave in Madagascar. The donor I discussed ploughs with in Luanda ended up offering me breakfast in Antananarivo.

And today I met up with a Hungarian girl I worked with in Angola. We only met briefly there, long enough to like each other but too short to really stay in touch over the years. I am so grateful she is here. Beside the fact that we have the potential of becoming very good friends, she also allows me to speak my mother tongue and this is something I've been missing a lot since we've been here.

See, the world is so small... :-)

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Quite a Friday

Yesterday we went out to the horse farm for E's birthday brunch. Well, his birthday is only in another 10 days, but since Auntie R and Uncle L are leaving on holidays soon, this was the only date when we could come together. In the end there were only eight of us, kids included, because a friend of mine who was supposed to come with her two children got sick the night before. I prepared a ball cake complete with green grass made out of coconut. I am pretty useless with anything even remotely artistic but it turned out ok and it tasted good too.

It was an extremely windy day with dusty haboob coming from the South. We had a hard time hanging on to plates, glasses and table cloth. Nevertheless the waffles were delicious and the grass green, so we all had good fun. The kids went for a splash in the small pool, ran around and generally had a ball. Once back home, we tried to put them down to sleep which kind of worked, but not really, so they both ended up pretty tired after their (not) nap.

In the evening the neighbours organised a haggis special on our rooftop. According to Wiki, "haggis is a traditional Scottish dish. There are many recipes, most of which have in common the following ingredients: sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours." We also had beef filet, salad, broccoli and cheese, yorkshire pudding and apple / pineapple crumbles for dessert. It was a delicious meal with great company.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Getting my act together

I've been rather busy these days. Beside the obvious kids - husband - household stuff, I've also been doing quite a bit of reading and reflecting. I discovered a great Christian website and while I am still questioning some of their statements, I found answers that I've long been looking for. You'd think that after 15 years with the Adventists who analyze and dissect every Bible text and connect them to 15 others to make their point I would have seen it and known it all. Not so. I had to revise my certainties about a number of very basic beliefs while also acquiring further knowledge in other issues.

At the same time I am reading Francis Wheen's 'How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World' which is basically an ode to rationalism. He criticizes every belief and practice that departs from the visible and scientifically provable, may it be New Age, Christianism, UFO sightings, lifestyle gurus, feng shui, acupuncture, homeopathy or post-modernism. No one is spared. I enjoy reading it despite obviously not sharing his point of view on Christianism because I really see where he's coming from. He's also a talented writer with quite a bit of sarcasm which makes the book very good and easy to follow.

A few weeks ago I also started an online course with the UN Peace Operations Training Institute and I am ploughing my way through 'An Introduction to the UN System: Orientation for Serving on a UN Field Mission'. It is primarily intended for future UN peace ops recruits, but it is also relevant for NGO workers dealing with the UN. Since we have UNAMID and UNMIS in Sudan and I will be working with an NGO here, I might as well gain some understanding of what their expectations and operational principles are.

I must say that my brain is grateful for this intellectual gymnastics.

Beside all this, I am actively preparing for E's birthday brunch on Friday morning. I finally came up with a menu (omlet, waffles, fruit salad, carrot cake) and I am ready to get everything prepared as soon as the shopping is done. I'll try and make a ball cake that E can share with Pepsi (his poney) out on the horse farm. Yeah, he wanted to celebrate his birthday with the horse, so why not? :)