Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Few Random Photos

Nadia, James and Rya

Making Russian Tea Cakes for Christmas with Mommy

Got Milk

Bilene Beach

Relaxing at Bilene with Nate, Deanna and Emily

There are things I can’t control:
- How hot (and humid) it is--regularly 30 C = mid-80's F with 70% humidity
- That our apartment is on the 4th floor apartment with no barrier between our ceiling and the roof and does not have cross-ventilation. And that is baked every sunny day from 1:00-sundown (around 6:45 PM).
- The weather—when the forecast is for cool, rainy weather one day and the next it is changed to hot, humid weather and the rain never comes
- That our neighbor after over a month of telling him that his water tank is leaking into our bathroom and destroying our wall, still hasn’t fixed it

There are things I can control
- Where I sit in our apartment in the heat—so far I’ve discovered sitting in the tub is the coolest spot
- What we cook in the hot weather
- How many cold showers I take a day
- How I react to disappointing weather predictions
- How I react to the constant leak in our bathroom

Things I can be thankful for
- Ceiling fans and floor fans
- Adequate water
- That it usually cools down overnight
- That though the water consistently leaks, it’s not flooding the bathroom
- That our bathroom is much cooler than the rest of our apartment

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Drama never Ends

I will try not to go into all the detail of everything that has happened over the last half year or so but I want all to know that it has been mostly good so this is definitely a glass half empty post.

For starters we have dealt over the past year with two water tanks above our apartment whose leaks have filtered into our apartment, spoiled the paint in our bedroom and started growing mold. We appealed to our neighbors, the head of the building and such but it took rather 6 months to get fixed. Not very neighborly I didn't think. They should have met Mr. Rodgers cause it was not a good day in the neighborhood. Unfortunately as soon as that stopped we received a new neighbor who proceeded to use the other cement tank above our bathroom even though we advised against it. It started overflowing running water into our bathroom. We complained. He added a plastic tank but continues to use the cement one and tried to put a new tube in. This tube drips and causes the water to constantly drip into the bathroom. I approached him numerous times, called our landlord and talked to our apartment head to no avail. We have settled for a bucket that collects the water and we keep our fan on to dry the wetness that appears on the wall and ceiling in our bedroom and bathroom each time it rains and as the water leaks out of the cracks in his tank.

Then, two weeks before we took off for Christmas to South Africa my wife ended up in the hospital, complications from the pregnancy. I have been in charge of getting groceries and cooking along with my regular work at the CCM office. As soon as she was out the guard came up and asked me to fix a tiny dripping down at ground level from my water meter. I decided I would fix it right away so as to keep my integrity. He came and fixed it a little bit but it still dripped, but less. I called him in again, big mistake. I should have left well enough alone. His cranking on the pipe broke the plastic pipe coming from the city water and we had 'old faithful' with water running out of the apartment and toward the street. Plumbers tend to mix plastic and metal piping to save cost . This he told me as he prepared another plastic pipe...hmmm. The water had to much pressure for him to stop it. It was embarrassing as neighbors went by shaking there head and saying, 'confusao' or confusion, literally translated, but basically means 'sorry for you, I am glad it is not me'. Confusion is not something Mozambicans like. After two hours he finally stopped it but we were without water.

Meanwhile, I had just managed to catch my breath and my MCC colleague calls me and says that our coordinator, who is coming in from South Africa, is driving in with what she thought was appendicitis. Given Jenny and I are the only ones with international drivers licences of the three of us, we ended up having to rescue her on December 23rd in the worst traffic of the year. It was the first time I saw my very considerate wife, cutting people off and butting in line. She half considered taking the sidewalk. We postponed our vacation to make sure she got through surgery alright. We left on the 24th, and had a great relaxing 5 days. On returning, however, the plumber who promised to fix our water when we were gone had taken off to Inhambane, about 400 kms up he coast. We called him right away and he was on his way back and fixed it the next day. Needless to say we were not impressed.

So, all has gone well since and most of the time we stayed house sitting for a friend in a really nice house next to a park in a nicer section of the city.

Oh, I almost forgot. We went to visit friends along Costa de Sol. It turns out it was the last day of vacation for most people. The road was filled with cars and you could not see the sand on the beach because of the quantity of people swimming and partying. On the way back we were trapped in traffic when we were suddenly hit from behind by a driver and his two lady friends who had been drinking. I kept calm and tried to ask what we could do. They blamed me for stopping suddenly. I had been stopped in the line. I said we should call the police to sort it out. They said I was causing, 'confusao'. There it is again, confusion. This time it means "You are going to cause me unnecessary problems, dummy". I tried to talk with our administrator in Beira and my phone was almost snatched from my hand by the man asking for my phone number and details. I tried to be patient and told him I would as soon as I was off the phone. I tried to get into the car to get away so I could talk in peace with my wife. He reached in and took my car keys. I almost slugged him...but I didn't. Fortunately our maid happened by with some friends and managed to help us call the police. I sat and watched as heated words were exchanged and fights almost broke out periodically. Amazingly in Africa your hired persons and their friends automatically stick up for you. They were great.

Needless to say the police never showed, they were more interested in getting bribes up the road. I had a terrible time filing the police report the next day trying to convince the police officer that I was not drinking the night before and it was the reason that I had not called the police. I had just said that I did call the police....aaaah. Police are less then helpful.

We returned yesterday from our friend's house.

Today, our water stopped....the tank was empty...what now. Hauling water up 5 flights of stairs and bucket baths. Managing our water resources. At least, Gondola taught us how to live without water in the house. But with a 2 year old and one on the way, this is not a good scenario. What's wrong? It worked fine a few weeks ago. Is there not enough pressure? Did the city water not run the last two days? Do we have plumbing problems or is it plugged? Did they cut our water? I will not know until tomorrow when the city water turns on. The big question is how I am going to sleep tonight and when can I go back to the land of flowing water and electricity, where the food appears on shelves on discount, where police actually have fast cars and use them, where there are ambulances, neighbors can be sued for problems they cause to your property and where ice cream does not melt before you can eat it.