Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cars and condoms

I have decided that the veritable Murphy should be hanged, drawn and quartered, and his body parts put in a black plastic bag and dumped in the sea next to Dexter's victims.  Murphy and his stupid laws drive me crazy.  They always happen when you don't want them to.  Take this week for example.  My car has been going swimmingly well.  But frigging Murphy knows full well that I'm traveling to Dar for my book launch this weekend, so what does he do, he creates havoc.
My electric window which I'd just had repaired at a cost of $70 three weeks before, refused to wind back up.  I pressed the button and the little motor inside the door hummed and buzzed like a constipated bee.  Luckily, the fundi repaired it and only charged me $10, but I'm a little too scared to use it as I can't afford to be in Dar the weekend with a car with a window that can't close.
Then some kind parent points to my back tyre with beautifulk tread and shows me a bulge.  Lovely.  Not a good idea to drive to Dar with a bulge sticking out of your tyre.  There's not a place in moshi where you drive in and get a tyre repaired or replaced.  No, you have to find a car spares place, negotiate a price for your tyre, load the new one in your boot, then find a fundi on the side of the road who changes tyres.  $130 for the tyre and thank the good Lord, only $3 for he fundi.  My other tyres are all Goodyear.  The new one is called Goodtime or something like that.  A Chinese copy of Goodyear.
Tyre all sorted, my wallet screaming with hunger pains, we go to El Rancho Thursday night to celebrate my promotion starting August of Head of Primary/PYP Coordinator.  I click my key remote to unlock the car to go home.  Click, click, click.  Nothing.  the car stays locked, the blue light on the dash of the alarm stays flashing.  I manually unlock the door with the key, as we used to do in the good old days.  Alarm goes off, sending the waitresses scurrying around like ants.  I try and start the car with the alarm blaring, but it has a special cut out feature.  Good if it's a robber, bad if it's you.  I search for some button to turn off the alarm, but it remains elusive.  I look for wires to yank, but they are too well hidden.  Whoever installed the alarm did a blastedly good job.  The waitresses are now sitting on El Rancho porch, laughing at me and my attempts to turn off my car alarm.  I want to get home.  The MSG in their food is already having an effect on my stomach.  I can feel it bubbling and rumbling and I know without a doubt, that I need my bathroom.  My hair stands up on my arms.  "We;ll walk," I say to Siobhan who glares at me and lifts her heavy backpack onto her back as she's only just returned from a very wet camping trip on West Kili.  I lock the car, the alarm blissfully stops, but the blue light still flashes that it's on, and we walk home.  Luckily, it's just around the crner, but Siobhan grunts and curses and cries, but I pretend not to hear her, just trudging on ahead, selectively deaf.  I sort of sadistically pray that the alarm will keep going off during the night and wipe the smiles and laughter off the waitresses faces.  But it doesn't.  All it does do is give me a sleepless night as I spend all night tossing and turning straining to hear my alarm going off inbetween the sounds of yapping, barking, howling dogs.  Our usual nightime lullaby.
Of course it rained all night long, so the next morning we had to wade through mud to negotiate our way to school.  Mr. Chucky, the school purchaser, took my keys and managed to get the batteries replaced, so thank God now it works.
On my way walking to El Rancho after school to fetch the car and try out the key, I came upon a pile of five used condoms on the side of the road.  Yes, I'm afraid I did count them as I found them intriguing.  they offered up so many questions.  How did they get there?  Was it one man who had sex five times or a gang bang?  Where did they come from?  Did some man just throw them out of the window as he drove past?  Because he couldn't have had sex there, as it's the road which is quite busy, and next to the road is a gravel path, the little stones would have been a passion killer for any woman, and then a deep ditch, so why were the condoms on the gravel?  Intriguing, definitely food for thought.  At least someone is practising safe sex.
Well, had better pack, I'm leaving for Dar-Es-Salaam in an hour.  Siobhan wants toasted hot cross buns, so I have to do my mommy-thing.  Wish me luck for my Book Launch on Monday night!  Have you bought your copy of The Case of Billy B yet from

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Roll on holidays

Schools out on Friday!  Yippee-dee-doo-dah or however you write that.  I should be more organised with an hotel booked but I'm not.  All I know, is that my big book signing/book launch which kicks off the start of my African Book Tour is at A Novel Idea, Slipway branch, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania on Monday 29th March at 6pm.  I haven't even decided yet, whether I'm driving to Dar on the Saturday or Sunday, or if after the book signing, we'll hop on a ferry and spend a few days in Zanzibar.  Apparently, after 3 months of no power, the power is finally back on in Zanzibar.  So what to do?  At the moment, I have no idea.  I'm so caught up in writing Not Telling, the story is so consuming, I think about it constantly.  I'm not sure how it ends yet, I'm hoping the characters will decide for me.
Hopefully, this week will fly.  I'm definitely ready for a holiday.  Quite a few people around me have been hit with malaria of late, so it's definitely in our area.  I might have to get some of that mozzie spray to keep them away.
I really have to start working on the planning for our drive down to Cape Town in June.  I have to get a carnet de passage, to allow me to drive my car through different countries.  The problem is, is that they like to keep your carnet at the border here which is going to be a problem as I'm going to be driving through a few different countries and coming back another route.  Hopefully, I'll be able to make them see sense, but I'm not holding my breath.  Money will probably have to change hands to make it work.
Well, breakfast for me and then I'm doing some more work on Not Telling.  Have a chapter to finish, and this one has to end in a twist so I need my wits about me.
Have a great week!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

No power, no shower

When will the big rains come?  I've heard so much about them, how the roads turn to mud, water run-offs overflow and houses flood, but the positive is that the rains fill the dams.  And, for a country that runs on hy7dro-power, they need water.  the last couple of weeks it's been like it was when we first moved here.  Almost daily power cuts, always from about 6pm at night going through to about 11.30pm.  I don't bother with candles anymore.  as soon as the power goes out, the battery on my laptop goes dead and it's dark outside, I just go to bed.  I can't be bothered with straining my eyes with poor candlelight anymore.  Last week, when we did have power, my body is already so tuned into early nights, that I was so tired at 8pm I went to bed, only to wake up at 10.30pm, work on my new novel until 1am and then go to bed.  Unfortunately, the disadvantage of no power during the day, which does happen sometimes, is that the gardener can't put on the pump to pump water to the house.  Which means when I want to shower at 6.45am, not having been abloe to shower the night before as there was no power for hot water, then there's no water to shower with, even if there is power.  Highly frustrating.  Going to work feeling dirty, trying to clean your dirty feet with spit on a facecloth is no fun.  it puts me in a bad mood all day.  But I do tell the kids in the morning, no shower so don't cross me, and they tend to listen to that and take it on board and behave.

Siobhan spent the past week practising like mad for her song in the Variety Show on Friday night.  If I hear Taylor swift's Fifteen again I just might scream, and if I haven't had a shower, I just might kill.  I really want to work on my new book, Not Telling, as I am on a roll.  However, since I accidentally knocked diet coke over Siobhan's macbook, it no longer works.  although we have a television, we have no cable, and our dvd player has stopped working, says 'Disc error' everytime you put a disc in.  The internet says that it's because of dust on the laser, so i have to try and clean that, because Siobhan is unable to entertain herself quietly.  All she wants to do is watch movies or TV series and she can only do it on my laptop.  Which means I can't write my book.  And it's my fault she's in this predicament, as I spilt the coke.  When I tell her I need computer time, she plays her guitar and sings.  Loudly.  I can't concentrate then, so just save my work and hand her my laptop to watch movies with and go to bed.  Teenagers.  I'm so grateful when teachers give her homework to do, as then I can get some of my work done, although she sings when she does homework as well.  Unfortunately, she doesn't have an off button, or volume control.  But I have to say, she did a fantastic job at the Variety Show.  She does have an awesome voice.  Her first act was an Indian dance group.  That was pretty good, they looked like a group of Bollywood dancers, only thing is, not an Indian in the group.  She's taking Indian (Bollywood) dance lessons every Friday afternoon, and she is very talented, I must say.  Takes after her Grandmother, that's for sure!  When the lights dimmed and she stood in front of the microphone to sing, I started shaking so much and held my breath, I was so nervous.  She oozed confidence, and was fantastic.  I was so proud of her, and when the song ended and everybody started cheering for her and applauding, I started hyperventilating from holding my breath for five minutes during the song.  I found it embarassing when everybody came up to me to congratulate me on Siobhan's amazing voice and singing.  Like seriously, what I have I done?  I just popped her out and she definitely hasn't inherited my singing voice!

The great news is that my order of books arrived on Friday from the US.  they only took two and a half weeks to arrive, so now it's all go for my big book launch of The Case of Billy B in Dar-Es-Salaam on the 29th March.  Which reminds me, I need to search online for some cheap and good accommodation.  Not sure if that goes together or not.

Spent all of yesterday in the sun, so my face looks like a toxic tomato after it's been dropped in nuclear waste.  The day started off as a bit of a nightmare, but improved considerably as it progressed.  I was supposed to make a batch of Hertzog cookies for the South African stand at the Arusha campus's International Day.  I was going to be baking all Friday afternoon, but then remembered that I didn't have a beater to make the meringue.  My friend, Mags, leant me her one, and the plan was that I was going to make these cookies after the Variety Show.  Unfortunately, the show only ended at 10pm and when I got home, there was no power because of a power cut, so I set my alarm for 5am and went to bed.  But because I was scared *I was going to oversleep, I woke up every hour to check the time.  After mixing up my short pastry, I realised that I don't have my rolling pin, it's in storage in Cape Town, so I cursed heavily.  I made the dough softer so I could squish it into the patty pans with my fingers.  Next problem, was that I had no time to let the cookies cool down as I should before lifting them out the patty pan, as I had to be at school at 6.45am to leave on the bus with noisy kids for a swim gala in Arusha.  More cursing, broken cookies glued together with apricot jam.  Siobhan woke up and asked me why I was complaining to the cookies as they are inanimate and can't respond.  My answer was a glare and more cursing.

My swimmers swam like they were being chased by crocodiles and made me so proud.  As usual, I failed to take precautions against the harsh African sun, and ended up being burned to a crisp.  Then went straight to International Day and immediately downed a big bottle of ice cold beer even though I hate the stuff.  It was nectar and didn't even touch sides.  My friend marina, brought out an ice-cold bottle of South african white wine, and I thought the gods were finally on my side.  Unfortunately, no corkscrew, which put a bit of a spanner in the works.  With the white wine rapidly warming up under the hot sun, I quickly skedaddled down to the French stand where this guy Michel, who has a French cheese and wine shop in Arusha, was standing selling expensive glasses of his frightfully expensive nasty French wine.  "Hi Michel, howya doing?  Could I please use your corkscrew to open up my bottle of wine."
He wrinkled up his nose as if he was a mole who had come across something unpleasant buried in his mole-hole.  "No," he said in his frightfully put-on French accent, "I vill not let my cockscroo touch a piece of shit bottle like that."
Excuse a mois Mr. Frenchy, I thought to myself, this is not a piece of shit bottle but a bottle of good quality cheap South African plonk.  I laughed, mistakenly thinking he was joking, and repeated my request, and he repeated his answer and waved his hand for me to disappear.  His girlfriend told me he was being serious, he meant it, and I should go.  Well Gaston, er Michel, you are so lucky I never grabbed your 'cockscroo' and shoved it up your arse.  Luckily, the Swiss stand were far more friendly and obliging.  It could be because of that yodelling they do on the alps, and they lent me their Swiss army knife with corkscrew.  The South African wine was delicious, far superior to the French plonk that is sooooooooooo expensive, and I was truly tempted to go back and hit him over the head with my empty bottle of South African wine, but I managed to show some restraint.  That and because we had just opened another bottle and had to drink it before it got too warm.  A bus trip back with extremely noisy singing shouting kids and I thought my head would explode.  Mind you, it could have been a combination of sun and great wine.  Dinner at friends, great company, and back home at 1am, a long day, and other than an altercation with some Pool Mommies from Braeburn School at the gala and the french twerp and his precious 'cockscroo' it was a good day.
But, no internet at home because now my phone line is down.  Power, but no phone.  Guess, you just can't win, eh?  But the Stormers won, beat the hurricanes, so our Super 14 Rugby is looking good this year!
Have a wonderful, wonderful week ahead, and remember to stay far away from Frenchmen and their 'cockscroos'!
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