Thursday, June 12, 2008

My new houseboy Chris

I think I mentioned that I have a "houseboy" named Chris. I don't know what to call him, exactly, but he is awesome. Tonight when I came home from work (at a decent hour finally), he had the candles lit, cleaned the house, washed and ironed my clothes, cleaned the apartment, made dinner, and set the table. All this for $10 a day. I know, I can't believe it either. Some other people in the Foreign Service already know you can get cheap help overseas. I never even thought about hiring someone, but it's really almost necessary here. The food has to be washed very carefully with bleach, the apartment gets more dirty than in the US, and by hiring someone, we are helping them have a job. Some people pay the help only about $7 per day and that's also ok. Chris also does all the shopping for me. He picks out what to make. I only told him not to make things too spicy. I also told him I love fruit, especially bananas, so even on the days he doesn't come, he stops by and gives me bananas. I actually saw REAL bananas on the banana tree outside my apartment. It was so cool to see how they grow. Anyway, Chris is a godsend. I work so many hours that I would probably just come home and eat a bowl of cereal every night if he were not here. Pam, he is SUCH a good chef, that I would recommend he come and work with Shawn at the restaurant. When came home tonight, he had made fish; some sort of tuna with spices, a rub, and garnished with plantains, tomatoes and parsley. Now, this is Africa, and that is NOT the way most people eat. He also made a lettuce salad with fresh veggies, greens, and olives. For dessert I had the freshest mango ever! Chris once had his own catering business and I can see why. He's about 23 years old, I'm guessing. He also worked at a hotel, so he does these creative things with my mosquito net; folds it into a beautiful decoration.

I know, I'm spoiled. I may never cook again. Maybe I can take Chris with me on my next assignment. He wants to learn to drive (most people here cannot drive because it costs too much to learn; and no one can afford a car), so when my car comes, I may teach him and then he can be my driver too. What a lifestyle. I would not have believed it myself 3 months ago.

Now, contrast that with the average lifestyle of the people of Freetown. When we drive down the street, we see people carrying everything and anything on their heads. It's an art I'm sure. The other day, I saw a woman carrying about 10 dozen eggs on her head. Did I already mention that? It still boggles my mind. Today it rained; and the people still walked in the rain, carrying on with their business. I think the large platters that they carry on their heads serve as sort of large umbrellas to protect them from the rain. Oh, when it rains, everything turns to mud. Remember, there are no sidewalks here and the roads are NOT paved. If it rains a lot, the streets turn to raging streams. No one seems bothered. Life is hard here and rain will not kill you; it's just another inconvenience in an already inconvenient life. Yesterday, we had a storm and a large tree fell across the road we take to work. Until they could get equipment to move it, all the traffic had to be diverted through the woods as a detour. This road....OMG. You can forget about complaining about traffic on the way to work. At least you have smooth, safe roads. I can really tell you that without a 4-wheel drive, you cannot live here safely. The Africans that DO somehow own a car, usually have these beat up old Nissan cars that look like they are held together by duct tape and prayer. The drivers are so aggressive that if you don't throw your car out there and be aggressive also, you would never get anywhere. There is no such thing as courtesy. Courtesy is for sissies. You will just get taken advantage of and laugh ted at. I hope I'm up to the task when my car finally arrives.

I have rediscovered reading. I actually take my whole hour for lunch, because the day is so busy I really need the break. I just started the book by Barrack Obama; Dreams of my Father. It's good. I wanted to sit outside in the sunshine and read during lunch, but here is the dilemma of that. Remember I work in an Embassy. Remember security? Well, we just can't push open the side door and sit outside like we used to do at my old job. Oh no. In order to get outside, I would have to go through several steel doors, carrying my food, walk around the building; you get the idea. It isn't worth it.

I will send photos as soon as I get the cable for my camera to connect with the computer. One of the bad things about packing and moving is that you cannot possibly keep track of everything. Things get put in the wrong box and pretty soon you find yourself with a camera with no instruction book; an Ipod, but no charger for the wall, or good booze and nothing but Walmart plastic to drink it out of. Those of you who know me well, know how much I HATE plastic glasses. They came with my apartment here....but I could only tolerate them so long, and so I broke down and bought 4 glass glasses on Sunday. Ah, I feel so much better. I'm telling you, it's the little things in life!

You'e probably asleep by now with all this reading. Hope all is well in your corner.



fsowannabe said...

Thanks for the great post. I'm really enjoying the insight into your life and career as an FSO. I've linked to your blog.


Tom said...

I am mailing you a new card reader for your photo Wed. Let me know if there is anything else you need in a small mox.

Wendi said...

Hey Becky:

I think I would like a houseboy. Maybe I could train Marty...Just kidding. Glad you are doing well.