The internet is driving me crazy. I was under the missapprehension that I would have none of my Uganda slow internet issues. Okay I have power, I have hot water in the kitchen, I have no potholes, now can I please have fast internet? Skype is a nightmare, downloading takes forever and if I want to watch a TV show I need to start streaming it hours before. I am looking for solutions but I hear that all the internet comes into Bahrain in one pipe (!?) and that it is notoriously slow.
My First World Problem.
We have been here in Bahrain for a week now and a long week it has been. Outside it is as hot as an oven, too hot to walk, nowhere to walk even if it was cold. Outside it is Ramadan and a crime to eat in public. Outside it is the desert, I see the sand from my window.
Inside it is a waiting game. Waiting for our shipping to arrive, for our car to be ready for our visas, for school to start, for our lives to start. It is all thumb twiddling and looking outside for a van with our Uganda life within.
And then my laptop died and I got a streaming cold and my impatience got the better of me and I started to dream of anger fueled missiles and green cool canadian lakes, and I wondered when it would all begin.
Princess, in all her wisdom told me to think only of the positive. So I am.
This is my list of positives:
1. I have a very beautiful , albeit barely furnished home. Light filled, cold floors, space to twirl and dance.
2. We have music. Lots of it. The stereo is hooked up and music fills our home.
3. My mattress is sublime. I climb onto it like a large white cloud. Then I dream.
4. I have bought a car. It is not here yet but it is fabulous and I love it.
5. I have a job. Somewhere in the not too distant future I will go to that job and speak to other humans.
6. Even if my laptop is deathly Ill, at least we have the life line of an iPad.
7. There is a Waitrose is Bahrain. For those not in the know, that is the superior British supermarket. It is filled with all my London favorite things and heaven years away from a Uganda shop. Although it is miles away from my house, I feel some comfort in knowing that it is there, at the other end of this small island.
8. I have tons of friends in far way away countries that, although nowhere near me, are ready to share a coffee at any time.
9. Princess and Trooper are both remarkable troopers.
10. I drove on the scary Bahrain highways and survived.
Kampala Sunday Family. Photo taken during my Mother’s Day walk.
Oh what a lovely weekend. It all started with a rare highly successful Friday. It is an extraordinary feat when everything goes to plan here, something to be celebrated and talked about amongst friends. I left school midday to attempt the herculean task of ticking a few items off my “things to do list” including some banking, an issue with a tragically faulty iphone and computer , a birthday gift, a photo to be printed, some minor grocery shopping and the pinning up of Car For Sale posters in all the appropriate places. All got accomplished in good time and moreover extra things not even on the list got ticked off too. A rare glowing moment here in Kampala.
Friday evening was spent in the company of dear friends, outside on a deck, moonlight straining between oversized fat leaves, and the sweet smell of Lady of the Night flowers wafting over us like gentle silk on our shoulders. We ate, we debated loudly, and we laughed. We struggled with issues that come by us all too often living in Africa. We debated the concept of happiness and how possible it is to be happy and yet stuck in the mire of poverty. How do we read those smiling faces running up the hill to fetch water each night? Can a person be truly happy if they cannot plan for tomorrow? If they live an existence that is hand to mouth and rooted in the today and only the today? Can one be happy if they have no access to health care and the threat of death and infanticide is always around every corner? Is the West responsible and what can be done? Heady issues but ones that live with every day and it is a good dinner party when we actually debate what we cannot solve.
Saturday and my luck turned. I was back at the computer shop fixing my still broken computer and money was bleeding from my wallet. I was forced to drive right down town, into the nether regions of congested Kampala and to a place that I have never ventured by myself in the car. It was stretching the boundaries of my bravery so I did what is only possible in the great country of Uganda. I hailed down a Boda driver and paid him to drive to the scary place so that I could follow him. I did exactly the same thing on the way out of the maze of downtown streets and good thing too or I might have found myself half way to Entebbe Airport. I also pulled another great Ugandan trick and rather than risking another drive back downtown to retrieve said computer, I had it delivered to me by the technician on a Boda Boda. It is so easy to be a princess here.
Saturday night and a prospective car buyer was followed by a delicious Thai meal.
And Sunday: Mother’s Day found me enjoying a manicure, a brunch with my daughters and an afternoon of friendship, champagne and sushi pool side.
And then it all went fish faced Sunday night when my computer broke again.
I was terribly spoilt living with Handsome Husband. Since he had the car and the flexible work hours he did all the grocery shopping, all the hard labour ( collecting portable gas for the stove, charcoal for the live in help), all the car maintenance, all the bureaucracy ( car insurance, bill payments, banking), and all the driving. Now it is my job and quite frankly I feel a little daunted by the task. The last time we were separated for any considerable length of time was in Montreal when he left for Trinidad, 5 months before us. But that was easy compared to this. I was in my home, with my comforts, my friends, my easy routine, my grocery store I could walk to, my on line banking, my smooth roads.
Now, plenty of people do it. I know a fabulously brave woman who moved to Kampala as a single mother of two children, works full time and has recently adopted a third child. I am not in her league of braveness but perhaps I am braver than I think. I had been regretting my lack of independence in Kampala and now I will get it back in spades. How often do married people ever get a chance to live alone? A couple tends to grow dependant on each other and a separation helps us to stretch our independent muscles and go it alone. I have a rare chance to experience the independent single life, (although without all its benefits.) Most people, unless they marry a soldier in the oversees forces, barely have a day or two alone. And here I get three whole months.
Still I will miss him. And worry. What sort of cosmic miss-timing sends a person to Bahrain to start a new job the day before Martial Law is declared?
Clap your hands! I am doing a whole lot of driving these days. A lot of night driving, especially. It’s a bit silly really that I am even asking you to clap. Many people drive, many times and when I act all self satisfied as I climb out of my car they look at me like, really, what is the big deal? However, despite my seemingly brave new take on life in the fast lane, I am still terrified and each time I get into the car I hold my breath, clench the wheel while leaning forward and play very loud George Michael. I look like George Michael trying to avoid the police. Except I am not stoned and there are no dodgy boys in the back of the car. Shame really.
Anyway what makes it so scary is that there are no street lights. So I have to use my full beams, try to dodge those super sized pot holes, people riding bikes with no lights, goats, cows, stray dogs and people crossing the road. While doing all this I also have to cross two lanes of traffic (lots of extra breath holding there) and use my white-knuckle-hope to get me home. In a strange Mad Max way I am starting to enjoy it; it makes me feel brave.
Some girls really are brave. They camp alone with their two sons, they build canoes, and they drive to the market, park and then walk through the myriad of stalls looking for Turkey. I am trying to be brave, but not really there yet. But I am terribly proud of myself for at least climbing into the car (It is a high climb; ripped my fave jeans once…) and getting home all in one piece.
Pathetic but brave.