Thursday, June 30, 2016

Remembering College Life

Do you remember in college when you started getting ready to go out at 9 or 10 pm?

Do you remember how when you got older and had kids, you thought that "those college kids" going out at 10pm at night were crazy?

That "crazy" part is what I was feeling like last Tuesday.  It was the 9th day of Ramazan, and we were getting used to the quiet, dry, hot days.


No people...

No people...

 Even the chickens on our neighbors roof knew they were supposed to sleep during the day.

No chickens....

  (Of course, their cage IS closed, so that could be one reason why they weren't out)

Some of our American friends were leaving town for a few weeks.

 They came over to visit and brought us their plants to water while they were gone.

They came around 7:30pm, and when we were saying goodbye to them at our gate at 9:45p, the females in our family received an invitation from the neighbors to go to the bazaar.

People wait until the 9th or 10th day of Ramazan to start the "fun" evening activities (besides staying at home), and I guess it was time.

So at 10:30pm we headed out with Jasmine,* her daughter-in-law, three of her daughters, Jennifer,* and her two girls.  (I left Keira at home although there were exhausted babies and children all over the bazaar).

It just so happens that I wasn't leaving Doug alone.  Our language helper "Surprise" had brought over his neighbor and a few other guys to install two new air conditioner units Doug bought for upstairs.

We had moved most of the furniture and all of the carpets out of two rooms so the dust wouldn't overwhelm them, and they asked if they could "come to work" at 10pm, after they had broken fast and visited with family.

Sure.  Why not?  Keira can sleep in our room on the floor.

So while they worked, we went to play.

The bazaar was crazy and crowded!  People everywhere!

We couldn't stay together.  Someone would stop for cotton candy, and then we would get separated.  Someone else would stop and look at clothes, and we would get separated.  On and on it would go, but somehow, we would always find each other again.

I got up on the sidewalk to take a picture for you, but it is still hard for you to see all the action going on (and I felt a little awkward).

This is an example of some of the thin hallways that branch off the main bazaar street where you can find all sorts of things.

I was told this particular hallway was similar to a "Dollar General."  The shirts were all $4, there was a plastic store where all containers were $.80, and material for maxi dresses (think "muu muus") were $2 total.

And, by the way, Jasmine* has been dying for me to get a maxi dress because she thinks I'm too hot in jeans, so I bought one maxi (muu muu) and bought one piece of material to have another made.

I haven't decided whether I'll model it for you or not.  Kylie bought one, and she looks cute, but mine's at the tailors getting altered, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to look too cute in mine.

This is a gold shop.  Gold jewelry is sold in small little dukans like this one all over the city.

We took a water break on the stair steps in front.

Apparently, there is a time at the end of Ramazan when parents give their children gifts, and on the last three days, everyone wears a new outfit (sometimes the same one).

I'm figuring all of this out as I go, so some of this could be incorrect, but this is what I sort of understand.

So, the shopping frenzy is equivalent to Christmas.

At midnight, we came back home, and the workers were still there.  Caleb was watching a movie, and Doug was visiting with "Surprise."

We had been invited to go to Jasmine's* and visit for a while.  I went to talk to Doug about whether we should go or not, and then I asked "Surprise" if he would be okay if we cancelled language the next day.

He said it would be "very okay."  (He stays up all day because he's taking an accounting class and studying.  Then he remains awake until the 3am breakfast/prayer time before he sleeps.  Then he and his wife get up around 6:30a to take their son to day care and she goes to work.  I'm sure they are both exhausted!)

So, the neighbor girls and we all got sno cones, and we went across the street to visit.

Did I tell you it was midnight?

They ended up looking through our ipods/iphones at pictures and asking questions about America.  We did pretty good with our language, but thankfully, pictures can speak for themselves a lot of times.

At 1:30am, I was ready to leave.

I asked when they would eat breakfast, and she said 2:30am.  I was hoping to use breakfast as a way to see myself out, but I couldn't wait another hour.

I was honest, and said I was tired, and we left.

It's hard to join their lifestyle of switching days and nights when we still are "living" during the day.  In hindsight, maybe we should have switched our days and nights and moved our language class to the middle of the night.

There's always next year.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I survived a Night on the Mountain

After our cave excursion, we drove back to the campsite where our friend informed us that he did indeed have to chase off goats from getting into our belongings.

There wasn't much resting time, because we needed to start grilling chicken for dinner, while the girls went to explore the cliff and the boys built a fort.

I took Keira to bed early, but I could still hear the fun chatter around the fire.

When everyone finally went to bed, the girls stayed up late in their tent playing Spades with plans to get up and watch the sunrise at the cliff.

I had my doubts that they would get up, but I heard them at 4am the next morning.

The reason being, I WAS SO COLD during the night that I hardly slept.

WOW!  IT WAS COLD!  I'll be better prepared next time.

Wait!  Did I just say, "Next time?"

After breakfast and fellowship time, I walked with the adults to look over the cliff and see more of God's creation


The pictures don't do it justice.

 Wait.  Do you see a red shirt on the far left of the picture above?

Are those our children?

Are those my daughters through those leaves?



The kids had hiked a different way, and the girls wanted to show us where they watched the sunrise that morning.


Doug has better pictures because he used a real camera, but I'm too lazy to load them onto my laptop.

This is the best zoomed in shot I could get of them (before I yelled over at them to move away from the edge)!!

Back at camp, we decided to go explore another cave, and I was told I wouldn't have to climb as high.

Ok.  I'm in.

See?  There it is.  Right up those steps.

It was a LOT deeper than the other one.

And it got dark, fast.

In fact, we explored for 30 minutes into the mountain before we turned around.

If you've ever been to Natural Bridge Caverns or something like that, can you imagine it without smooth paths, electrical lighting, and handrails?

It was just us, the dank, dark deep, our lanterns, drippy celings, and two inches of mud caked on our shoes.

Pretty cool.

I turned around and looked back right as I knew we were about to lose all sense of the sun.

I can imagine that people who were forced to leave their homes at certain points in this country's history, found respite in this cave.

In the center of this photo above is a hole with light behind it.

All of the kids have disappeared into it.

There is another continuing tunnel on the other side.

As we waited for them, Doug and another man, looked over the edge at a deep chasm.  It has been reported that some explorers went spelunking down that chasm, and traveled down over two hours and never found the bottom.

 Here's Kylie covered in mud after she crawled back through the hole.

 After all the kids came back through the hole, we all turned our lanterns off to experience the true darkness.  It reminded me of Genesis 1, except of course, we were standing on a firm, rock foundation.

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

Here's my cave partner after the lights were turned back on.


We were so thankful that Doug had packed our head lamps from Uganda.

 It looks like Karis found another place to explore.  A hole leading UP.

 So after we got outside, they climbed on top of the hill to look down the hole.

Can you see the girls?

Well, after the cave, we ate a good lunch of hamburgers.  Two of the families took down tents, packed up, and headed home.  We left one family there to enjoy another night.

Now that I've done it, I would do it again.  I'd be more prepared, have warmer blankets for the night, and pray again for constipation.

In case you were wondering, He answered my prayers on this trip, and I never had to use the shovel.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I'm a "Glamper"

We were invited to attend a camping trip with my friend Jennifer*and her family and another American family during the first weekend of Ramazan (6 adults, 9 kids).   It was a good time to get out of the city.

Do you get forecasts like this?

The second family was providing us with transportation, and they could only stay one night, which meant we were only staying one night, which meant I was happy.

I grew up camping with my family, but I have been informed by my husband that I am a "glamper."   (I'm guessing this is like a glamour-camper)

As a child, I thought that since we were in a pop-up and not a nice RV, we were really camping.  And I thought that since we used a Home Depot 5 gallon bucket to go to the bathroom in at night instead of walking to the community showers, that I was a real camper.

I have since seen the errors of my ways.

No showers.

No potties.

Hello, my name is Kathryn, and I am a "glamper."

I was a little nervous when we went to buy camping equipment.

Our friends helped us buy the right blankets for padding to sleep on, the right tent (believe me the "US Army" label is just a brand - see picture below), an ice chest, and stools to sit on.

They told us that they had a grill, a blanket to lay out to eat on, a tarp to make shade, and a shovel to dig holes for going to the potty.


Did I hear you correctly?

I've gone to the bathroom countless times on the side of the road or in the bush in Africa, but I hadn't considered the #2 option.  I even showed you pictures of some of the awful squatty potties I used in Africa to go #2 in.

(Here's a picture of a clean one, but in this same post, I also shared how bats flew out of one while I was using it!!)

But don't remember even having to "dig" my own potty.

I started praying for constipation (and I was secretly glad that Keira is still in diapers).

We left for the mountains at 8am.

I don't think I ever showed you my gaudy curtains for our front sitting room.

Your welcome.

When we drove out, the streets and city were dead.


We arrived.

We set up.

(How many girls does it take to set up a tent?)

I'm just kidding.  The rest of our tents popped up.  They had to actually put theirs together.

These girls did a great job reading Chinenglish instructions, and they produced a fabulous house for themselves.

Also, take note that they are all wearing jeans in very hot weather.  Shepherds bring their goat herds through this camp, so we all had to be dressed appropriately; however, we decided we could splurge and some of us wore short sleeves.


And we had sandwiches for lunch by 11:30.

And then we drove to a cave to explore.

It doesn't look that high, but OH!

And you can see how all the little people (and all of the other big people just flew past me and made it to the top a good 10 minutes before I did.)

Of course, I was stopping along the way so I wouldn't miss all the beautiful nature around me.

It had nothing to do with the lack of oxygen I felt I was getting into my lungs.




It took us awhile to drive to this cave, and only Doug had his passport with him.

We got stopped at a couple of checkpoints and questioned.  We couldn't believe we had all left our paperwork at the campsite (with the one man who stayed behind to protect our food from the goat herds)!

After my breathing had returned to a normal rate, I took this picture as proof that I actually did make it to the top.

 Can you see our van down at the bottom?

Here, I zoomed in.

Then, all I could think about is that I would also have to go down at some point.

 This is actually a famous cave around these parts.  A few books were written about some early man remains that were discovered here, and there is still "police tape" type stuff blocking off some excavation areas.

 All the big kids (and Doug) eventually disappeared when they crawled through a hole to check out another room on the other side of these rocks.

Keira and I were content to hang out near the opening.

Although she was terrified of these grasshoppers.  They are much larger than the ones in the States, and they were EVERYWHERE!  It must have been the perfect weekend for them because they come through like a migration at a certain time every year, and then they disappear again.

This was their time.  They were all over our tent site, our food prep and eating area, near our fire, and ready to pounce in your pants when you squatted to go to the bathroom.  

(You would have to ask Jennifer* about that :)

 This post is getting long, so I'll continue tomorrow.