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A summer in Africa!

Just to be different, this summer we decided to escape the Canadian heat by going to Africa.

Photos here - more to come later!

Not lazy, just busy and spacey

Yes, I have been terrible about updating here. Instead, I have been updating mbaweme.com.

And let's face it, my life has become a series of half-finished projects as my attention span vanishes and sudden urgent tasks arise. I start something, and then I forget what I'm doing and start something else, and then I forget what I'm doing and start something else, repeat ad nauseam until someone needs feeding or changing or whatever. Not exactly a recipe for efficiency.

But all that is about to change!

Well, not really. But I will be updating here more frequently, as we turn over the house keys to kind friends and head to Africa for five weeks.

Assuming I can find my passport, that is.

Departure date is next Tuesday. Stay tuned!

update: I found it!! First I found everything related to our honeymoon in France (the only time I used it), then I found a photocopy of my passport, then I found my old passport which expired in 1992, and finally I found the real thing! Whee! I knew it had to be somewhere (especially since I still have every phone bill, every cancelled cheque, every lease and every paystub I have ever received...)

updated 24 june 2007.

Once again, great promises of regular updates which vanish in the dust. No doubt you are all excited to hear about the flight, our visit to England, and Harry's great reunion with Gogo in Lusaka!

Or, perhaps you have been reading the news, and know that all flights through Heathrow Terminal 4 were cancelled on the day of our trip.

Perhaps you even read the papers more than we do, and wouldn't have gone to the airport (as we did) only to find you'd wasted $59 on a cab for no reason at all, and would have to spend that much again to get home.

In any case, our travel has been re-booked for this coming Tuesday, exactly one week to the minute from when we were supposed to travel.

Wish us luck!

updated 8 july 2007.

We're here!

We did it! And travelling with a baby is actually lovely. You get to go to the head of the line almost every time! And even better - seats with legroom!

We repeated our journey to the airport on Tuesday with a sense that this time, it was for real. There were a few small hurdles at the airport - couldn't check in ahead of time due to the flights changing, and then there was confusion at the airport for the same reason. Worse luck, we couldn't gate-check the stroller and carseat - they had to be checked through to Lusaka. So between carrying baby and tons of luggage, we got a bit weary.

The first leg of the trip was uneventful - we ate, we slept, we fed the baby. I discovered that ordering a special meal for the flight had an added bonus - my special meal arrived before everyone else got fed. So TG could baby-wrangle while I ate, and then I did the same for him.

When we arrived in London, we took a moment to try to connect with TG's dad, who was actually connecting through Heathrow at the same time, on a flight to Barcelona. He was at a different terminal, though, so we missed each other. We were collected at the airport by TG's friend Catrina. They went to high school together in Cardiff, and her parents' second house is in Camberwell, so we had a place to relax for the day. One problem - we didn't have our carseat, as it was with the checked baggage. So TG popped the baby in a sling and hopped on the Tube with extensive directions on how to get to the MacGuffin house.

It's funny how TG knows me better than I know myself, even though I've known myself a whole lot longer. He thought having a house to nap in was an excellent way to spend a day in London. But I wanted to be out and about! I've never been to England before, why waste this precious opportunity?

Of course he was right. I half nodded off in the car, and was gone as soon as my head hit the pillow when we got to Catrina's. I should know this about myself by now, but I don't. Funny, that.

The flip side of TG being the one that knows how much sleep I need is that I am the one that knows how to get from point A to point B. But he was the one on the Tube. We thought he'd beat us to the house, as we got stuck in traffic worsened by a maze of closed roads and diversions. But the house was quiet when we arrived. While I was sleeping, Catrina received a series of text messages documenting TG's progress through the city. Eventually someone tucked the baby in bed with me, and the two of us napped some more.

A few naps and curries and twelve hours later, we were back at Heathrow to catch our flight to Lusaka.

Most of the flight was at night - the sun set while we were over France, and only rose again just as we were approaching Lusaka. I had never noticed before the number of stars you can see when you are above the clouds on a starless night - it was phenomenal! The light show continued when we climbed higher to avoid turbulence, and saw lightning storms in the distance - huge towers of clouds light with orange flares. Amazing. And the sunrise was incredible - the sky a burning red at the edges, fading through the spectrum to a deep indigo.

We were met at the airport by Rupia, a cousin of TG's. After loading our mountains of luggage into his vehicle, we set off for TG's mum's house. There are a lot of SUVs in Lusaka. But it's not a status thing - it's a pothole thing. Some of the paved roads are worse than the dirt roads - my little Adam would be eaten alive by those potholes.

Moma's house is an oasis in all of this. Spacious and surrounded by gardens, walls covered with bougainvillea in all different colours, a tree loaded with ripe oranges. The air is crisp and dry; it is cool and sunny, a nice respite from the mugginess of a Canadian summer. First on the order of business: napping.

Once we were well rested, we were more able to take in our surroundings. This is winter, aka the dry season, so Gogo's garden isn't in peak form, but it still puts mine to shame. Oranges, lemons, rosemary as tall as I am, bay leaf, and on and on... It's amazing too how different the light is here. Even in winter, the sun is just so much stronger than it is at home. There is too a thin film of dust from the red earth on all of the plants that makes the sun seem that much more powerful.

In the afternoon, we all piled into the Pajero to take a less happy trip. Last Saturday, TG's brother Johnny was admitted to hospital. He's been diabetic all his life, and had gotten a bad infection in his lungs. We took turns visiting him in the ICU (no more than two visitors at a time) with a stream of other relatives, all of whom were thrilled (of course) to meet the new baby. It is true in Africa that "it takes a village to raise a child," or perhaps more true to say simply that the village will take your baby! Everyone took a turn at holding him - that is the way here. Gogo told us how, when Johnny was born, the family went on a trip to her village, and his dad (DHB) was worried when he didn't see the baby for hours! Of course he was in (many) safe hands. It is such a contrast to North America, where so many new parents are exceedingly possessive of their new ones, and don't want to let anyone else hold their babies at all.

We were in a more sombre mood when we returned home. Also hungry. It was already dark - being winter, the sun sets around six - so seemed later than it was. I wolfed down a huge plate of nsima with beef and greens. I cheated though and used a spoon - despite instruction, I don't have the hang of nsima yet. Maybe I'll be an expert after a month of real practice!

updated 13 july 2007.

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