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.
Moving is a strange and tiring experience. In Montreal there is an odd phenomenon that sees a mass exodus from one apartment to another each July 1st. On the same day, every year you would find people lugging fridges up the spiral staircases that hug the outside of Triplex or 5plex apartments. By the evening everyone is happily and tiredly sipping beer and eating pizza out of boxes in their new homes that echo with the possibility of change.
I was reminded of that yesterday when the motley crew of movers and their motley truck and boxes came to transfer us from one Kampala world to another. The move went smoothly, although the haphazard way that our possessions were tossed into boxes left me sorely lacking in the underwear department when I had to go to a teacher’s TGIF drinks function at the end of the day. Trooper and Princess, having spent the afternoon with their best friends and now neighbours (how lucky is that!) came laughing through the door with friends in tow at 4.30pm and immediately set upon the joyous task of arranging their rooms. Of course it being the very first night in The Villa, their friends had to stay over so despite having no glasses, plates, nor kitchen we have already had our first Villa Sleepover.
The first night in a new place is a little odd, mainly due to the surprising outside noises that play their melody all night long. Last night that melody included our Chinese neighbours who obviously have a fondness for Karaoke, a pack of very sociable dogs that had plenty to discuss, the wind that played through the trees in our new garden and some apparent drag car racers who chose our street with its sharp corner for some late night entertainment. Once we have curtains to muffle the sounds and we have grown accustomed to the newness of it all I am sure these night-time noises will slip into the distant background.
Handsome Husband, who I practically had to force out of the house for his Boy’s Poker Night, ( these things are important!) came home in the region of 2am and, since I was still awake thanks to the aforementioned Chinese/dogs/cars and a pesky and persistent mosquito, I had the interesting experience of trying to bypass Fort Knox to let him back in. I have never seen such a collections of barriers, doors, gates and padlocks. When one door was unsuccessful we tried another and luckily found success. I think we might need to learn the system today, if there is one.
I love my new house, sounds, keys, cold water and odd flushing toilets and all. This is a new Kampala.
What was I thinking?
We have moved A LOT so when I called a moving company to shift our things from Shoebox to The Villa I thought I was dealing with a professional situation. It started well, a well spoken gentleman in a dark car with tinted windows came to look around and give us an estimate. I thought we were going to be in good hands. That was on Thursday at 6pm. By Monday there was still no estimate in my inbox. Finally I received a text saying that his email was down and that the price would be 660,000 shillings ( $325.) I am not sure where he got that price from, probably somewhere in his head because when I texted a quick reply that I found his price outrageous he, without much hesitation, came down to 555,000 shillings. No, I replied, that was still too steep, particularly considering the fact that we would be doing most of the packing and it was a simply a small shoebox full of things. I said we would not consider paying a shilling over 400,000. Then silence. Nothing. I started to panic. We were moving in three days and we had no men, no truck and no boxes. This morning I learnt the lesson I should have learnt back when I was 14. Play hard to get. He called and agreed to my price and promised to come over at 5.30 pm to deliver boxes and collect his 50% deposit.
I was excited. Hope filled our small home as we sat and waited and waited. By the time he rolled up at 7.45pm we were deep into a power cut and the idea of filling boxes was turning into a fantasy.
You know how boxes normally come flat, new and stiff? Well silly me for forgetting I was in Africa. These boxes are probably on their 7th trip around the block, a motley assortment of sizes, they are and bent out of shape too. Did I imagine maybe 20 or so boxes? Well we have 7. They did use tape to turn them back into the boxes they once and more than once were but they had no scissors. Luckily we did.
Over in the Great Shiny West we use brand new boxes to move and then we throw them onto the curb. Here nothing is wasted, nothing is thrown out. No wonder he was insisting on unpacking in the new house. He wants his boxes back!
I have no idea how Friday will go.
The charming thing is that both Princess and Trooper ran upstairs to pack their room by candlelight.
Often I have a nervous Blog Moment. Does anyone really want to hear about my pregnant house keeper? My new house? Princess’s Chatterbox status, starting school? And then I plod on, typing away more for myself than in any vain hope that someone out there in the blogosphere is reading. It is a funny business though. So if you are bored and don’t want to read about the good news brewing in the world of 3limes, stop now.
We might need to change Princess’s name to Princess Chatterbox. Since returning to Kampala we have barely had a moment when she is not chatterboxing away; from the moment she awakes to the moment her pretty head hits the pillow she has something to say and the house is never quiet. Why is this good news? Because it means she is happy and when I think back to a year ago when we were waking up in the Cockroach Palace I think I have a different child.
We are moving out of the Shoebox! In two weeks! While we were in London galavanting Handsome Husband wasn’t just working, swimming laps and sipping beer. No, he was house hunting and after visiting close to 15 houses he found us a real gem. We are hopping with excitement, girls are day dreaming about paint colours and I am imagining sunday morning coffees on the veranda. Handsome Husband will be bending over, shovel in hand planting beans and carrots while I stare at the trees and sip coffee.
We are getting a washing machine. I am ridiculously happy about this point. I am 41 and drooling over a square machine that washes clothes. Is there something wrong with this picture?
Our housekeeper is pregnant. (Yes I have a housekeeper. I live in Africa people and I will take the perks!) This is not really good news, to be perfectly honest. She already has one child and no husband. However this is her affair. She never told us she was with child, probably fearing the security of her job so finally I decided to broach the subject. After some months of watching her putting on weight it was becoming too obvious to simply blame on an over dose of matoke. The conversation went well. I assured her we would take care of her, pay her during her time at home and informed her that we would be moving to a larger house and that she would therefore be getting a raise. But nothing made her smile quite as much as the news that we were finally getting a washing machine. For 10 months this sweet young thing as has bending over and hand washing for a a family of 4. This is soon to come to an end.
Back to work tomorrow. No this is not really classified as good news other than the fact that finally getting down to some work will appease my stress over the fact that I have not yet read one single text that I am due to teach.