Monthly Archives: April 2012

If I ran away…

I’m not entirely sure where I’d go.  Really, running away would first require me to actually find my running shoes (I work out in bare feet) because there is way too much trash and probably cholera outside my door to just let my feet go bare.  However, the thickness of the callouses on my feet would probably save me. I really need a pedicure.  Anyway, if I could run away today, I’d probably run all the way to the capitol and somehow convince all of the armed guards at the Serena Hotel to let me in so I could get one of those awesome lemon zest facials.  It’s been years since I’ve been there, so I hope the spa is actually still running.  This could be one seriously disappointing run-away if I ran the whole way only to find that the spa is out of commission.  After the facial, I’d see if they could squeeze me in for a pedicure and grind off all the nastiness on the soles of my feet.  Once that’s over and my feet are shaped into feet again, I would mozy on over to their awesome little bakery where they sell those beautiful french pastries that taste just as good as they look. I would eat probably 2 or 3 of them, because they were always only like a dollar each.  Hey, I just dropped like $200 on my spa bill, so I’ve gotta be a financially responsible adult now.  I know, I know, I just left my husband and toddler daughter by themselves without notice so I could have a fantasy run-away to a swanky hotel… I’m probably not what you’d consider a responsible adult right now.  Oh, and I’d get the Twinings strawberry mango tea, too… which was always stupidly overpriced.  The Serena knows a lady’s weakness.  Then, I’d drop another $250 on a hotel room.  I would go up and sit in the perfectly clean tub in the lavender scented bathroom for as long as the water would stay hot.  After all, my legs are probably pretty sore from that run from River City, which went from sea level to more than 5000 feet and was something like 90 miles long (in this run-away fantasy, I’m also in Kenyan olympian runner shape).  By this point, I should probably call Levi and let him know I’m just having a short, imaginary overnight by myself and that I wasn’t kidnapped by the Taliban or Al Qaeda.  He’ll be relieved.

Actual me (not fantasy run-away me) at the Serena back in 2008.

I really do love my life here, but I can’t lie to you and say that every day is rosy posy perfect.  I have some pull-my-hair-out frustrating days.  Days when my patience is down to dental floss-width… and then that very realization reminds me that I forgot to brush Laila’s teeth today.  Days when I find myself yelling at my kid several decibels louder than the situation really calls for.  Days when the toot tree outside is making a huge mess and everyone is dragging those stupid little purple berries in on their shoes.  But that’s ok because the ants will just come inside and eat all of the remnants.  Yes, ants… all over my hallway.  Ants mixed in with the purple rug stains.

But, pretty soon, my neighbor will call out over our compound wall “Laila’s mom!  Are you there?!  Come chat!”  I love that part of my day.  People like her are the reason I love living here.  Levi will come home from work and I’ll be able to retreat to the kitchen for solitude and a cup of PG Tips, and I’ll gain back a little bit of the part of my mind that I lost this morning.  He’ll give me a back rub and a hug, and the world will be right again.

Don’t pity me.  This is just me having one of those days.  Tomorrow will be better.  It always is.  Unless I said that yesterday…


Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The good, the funny, the weird

My life here is weird.  I hear heavy artillery most nights around 9 p.m.  Drones fly overhead on a regular basis, and the helicopters fly so low that they always stop conversation.  But the war zone part of this life isn’t the only “abnormal” thing about it.  Here are a few others:


We eat meals on the floor, every single meal of the day.  I honestly can’t even remember the last meal that I ate at a table.  It was probably in the capitol when we were there last month.  I do like eating at tables, but our house just doesn’t really have a room to accommodate one.  We even bought a table last spring in hopes that we would just figure something out.  We haven’t.  But, locals eat on the floor all the time, so it’s not a big deal.  Also, my kitchen is outside.  Not literally stove-in-the-dirt outside, but in a building completely separate from my house.  This is also pretty common here because it gets so crazy hot that nobody wants the heat of their cooking adding more heat to their already-sweltering abode.  This has kept me from my bad habit of late night snacking.

My husband has not met a single one of my friends.  Not one.  Here, men and women are totally segregated except within their families.  In fact, men don’t even talk to each other about their wives.  Instead of saying “How’s your wife?” they say “How are your children?”  Yep, women get lumped in with the kids.  However, there is a huge double-standard here.  Because I’m a foreign woman, it’s somehow acceptable for my friends’ husbands and brothers to see and talk with me.  When Levi and I go to a family’s home for a meal, we are immediately ushered into separate rooms upon arrival.  The ladies of the family don’t dare step foot into the mens’ dining room, but one or two of the men of the family will almost always step into the ladies room to meet Laila and me.  But, I won’t complain about this.  When it’s late and we are away from home, Laila is going to have a meltdown.  The men are a great transit service for Laila to get to Daddy.

Have you ever told a chubby baby “You’re so cute I could eat you up!”  Ok… no?  Maybe that’s just me, then.  Well, I actually see my friends biting the cheeks of toddlers and babies.  Yep.  Smooch, SMOOCH, CHOMP.  Not hard or anything, just a little love bite.  I think it’s precious, actually.  They’ll also pinch their cheeks and then kiss the fingers that did the pinching.  Maybe that’s a good way to get your Xs and Os when you’ve got a virus or something.

ImageLong pants, long shirts, long sleeves, burqa, and rockin’ hot shoes.  Yes, it’s ALL about the shoes.  They may be covered head to ankle, but local ladies’ feet are almost always looking fabulous, albeit covered with red henna.  I’ve own some of the local style shoes, and they’re AWFUL.  Granted, I’m really not a fan of heels, but I will wear the comfortable kind on occasion.  Theirs are the tight, blister-giving, acrylic kind that kind of remind me of a grown-up rendition of the jelly shoes that I wore when I was a kid.

The other day when I was at my neighbors’ house, we were casually sitting around and drinking tea.  One of my friends, I’ll call her “Abbi,” said “Hey Betsy, watch this.”  She called over her 5-ish (maybe 6) year old daughter, and then pulled out her breast.  Her daughter promptly started suckling.  Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are plenty of people who nurse their kids way past toddlerhood (or much older).  I’ve been to plenty of countries where that’s the norm.  It doesn’t make it feel any less… well, awkward.  Either way, those kids are actually receiving nutrients from their mothers.  When I asked Abbi if she was still lactating (this daughter is the youngest), she said “No, but she thinks she’s a baby.”  Er, ok.  We’ll just chalk that up to a “We’re friends, so this is fine” moment.


Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


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