When my husband came back from Africa, he casually mentioned that while he was there, he saw some of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen. As his wife, I'll admit that I bristled just slightly. Well, I thought, I'll be the judge of that.
Then I saw the pictures.
No, I generally don't look like this at my dental appointments.
Or any other time for that matter.
And what struck me in all of the pictures wasn't just their beautiful faces, but how the women carry themselves, their proud, upright posture.
Maybe it comes from carrying things on their heads,
but by comparison, all of the Americans look slouchy.
And the colors! I don't think "khaki" exists in Senegal.
Against the barren landscape, the colors seem especially vivid.
Together, the women remind me of a garden of summer flowers.
This pink dress especially impressed Cholita. "The girls all look like princesses," she said with an envious sigh. What a compliment to the women of Senegal. Despite circumstances that seem difficult, they remain princesses.
I'll only list a few little tidbits from today. I'm so tired and I'm losing my voice. I rode to clinic (our last full day) on the top of the bus, but had to get off when we passed the police station.
Editor's Note: Lucy's mother is not pleased. Lucy's father has heard about it.
I ran instruments for sterilization today and when we had seen about our limit of patients, we kept seeing more. We worked for 10 hours.
After dinner tonight, a servant girl, Isatu, gave me a beautiful African bracelet. I said "Jerra Jef" (thank you), but I felt like I wasn't giving enough to make up for what she gave me, so I gave her a bracelet as well. The one Isatu gave me is striped with gold, pink, and purple, with a gold charm on it. The only one I had to give her was a cheap one with clear, tan, and maroon beads. Not a good exchange.
with the servant girls
What took faith today:
*accepting the culture
February 26, 11:00 PM
We had the day off. I actually slept in. After a short team meeting, we went to shop at a store (they're called boutiques) on the way to see a house being constructed.
building techniques in Senegal
We had to drop an older lady off at the men's compound because she nearly fainted from the heat.
A lady selling drums, jewelry, purses, and other African souvenirs came by and my dad bought a drum. I can't think of what we'll do with it, but I like it anyway.
After dinner, which was dumplings and rice cakes, we said goodbyes and played with the children. It was adorable to see them singing a song that goes, "Besu ta gee, yallo mo ko def. Beg na de lol, sona hol de sed."
This was when it touched me how much the same we really are. We all love. We all live. We all have friends, fashions, and fads. Cultures and lifestyles may change, but at the core, we're all the same.
I don't have much to say about today. I was feeling fine when I got up, started feeling really tired, almost fell asleep at the clinic, came back home, had a temperature of 102, took a shower, and felt a little better.
After, we went out to the market, where my dad bought a lot of spices so he could make some Senegalese dishes when we get back home. He bought four good-sized bags and it only cost him 1000 safa, which is a little more than 2 dollars.
There were a ton of people and horse carts, so we went to a quieter section of the market, where we got some medication for worms and lice, which are going around, and I really don't want to get.
I will probably sleep soon. I'm very tired after being sick. My braided hair is really tight and it hurts to lay on it.
The sky is always so clear here, never any clouds. At night, you look up and see every constellation.
Lyle couldn't have chosen a more beautiful place for his wife to run a 10K. He could, however, have chosen a less hilly place. There's very little "valley" on Catalina, it's just big hills and little hills. My legs, surprisingly, feel fine, but my toes are still sore from the runs downhill.
Speaking of hills, do you see the lovely colonial mansion on the hill in the left corner of the photo above? It's Mt. Ada, the former home of William and Ada Wrigley of the Wrigley chewing gum fortune. William had the home built in 1919 when he bought the island. As you can see, there's land above Mt. Ada, but he put into a city ordinance that no home could ever be built higher than his. He's famous for the quote, "We are a five cent business, and nobody in this company can ever afford to forget it." I'm sure that the citizens of Catalina Island were thinking of his five cent business every time they saw his house on the hill.
I also found it funny that years later when William's son Philip and his wife built their own home on Catalina, they chose a different mountain. They lived in the spanish hacienda in the top right of the above photo. I can just see Philip's wife standing on the land where they'd build their future home, shielding her eyes from the glare of the sunshine off the water, looking across at Mt. Ada. For Mama Wrigley to come for a visit, she'd have to walk down a mountain, across town, and up another mountain. "Yes, dear. This will be perfect."
And once again speaking of mountains and of Wrigleys, this is the Wrigley Monument and the high point on the 10K. The 2 mile uphill to the monument I would compare to our local Silverdale Way--not exceedingly steep, just never-ending.
This is the view from the monument tower. Knowing that it was all downhill from there was probably the closest I've ever come to experiencing a runner's high. Lyle came up the other side of this hill, with only two miles left in the marathon. When we visited the massive monument the next day, he said it didn't even look familiar. I think after 24 miles of hills, he was just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.
I also have to wonder if he maybe passed bison along the way, but didn't notice those either. There's a herd of about 150 that roam free on the island. In the 1920's, a film crew brought 14 buffalo to Catalina to shoot a silent movie, but when they packed up and left, no one bothered to bring the bison. Soon there was a herd of 600, a bit much for one island. Now they ship any extras off to South Dakota, probably where Lyle has plans for our next surprise marathon adventure. I can just see one of the bison eyeing Lyle, "Hey, didn't we meet on Catalina?"
As we waited for our ferry back to L.A., we marveled at a home lower down on the hill. This was one of the very first homes built on Catalina Island, by an engineer who camped out for a year and built it "with the help of his horse, Mercury" (according to a Catalina history book). From early photos of the island, I saw that they actually used to have a decent-sized front lawn, someplace for Mercury to graze. The massive retaining wall came later.
He called his home "Lookout Cottage", but if you click on the photo to see a close-up of the front porch, it shows that he may have run out of steam. Or maybe that was the part Mercury helped with.
In case you're wondering why I'm not in any photos of our weekend get-away, I want you to know that I did try. Unfortunately I only had my 50 mm fixed lens and it has limitations.
It was a great weekend, but I'm happy to be home. Cholita told me yesterday morning at breakfast, "When I'm a grown-up mom, and Dad wakes me up and tells me he's taking me on vacation, I'll say just like you, "What?!"
I love how she assumes that when she's a grown-up mom, Lyle will be the one taking her on surprise vacations. If she turns into a marathoner, there's a good chance.
It was an absolutely gorgeous morning on Catalina Island. I looked out over the beautiful hills and thought, "I'm so dead."
Lyle left before the sun even came up to catch the ferry to the other side of the island for the start of the marathon. I walked down to the 10K race line and sized up the competition. I chatted with a woman who was celebrating her 80th birthday, a man who would be pushing his handicapped daughter in her wheelchair, and an elderly blind man with an escort who would be holding his arm. I came to the conclusion that I'm a wimp.
I finished, I'll say that, just barely edging out the 80 year old. The wheelchair whizzed past me on the first hill. The blind man crossed the finish line to huge applause. After the finish, I wanted to get my camera so I could take pictures of Lyle. The walk back up the hill to the hotel about killed me. Very painful indeed.
This particular marathon is so grueling that I was told most people should add an hour to their best time. That was about right for Lyle. At nearly 4 and a half hours, I spotted him. I ran the last half mile on the sidewalk beside him. After he's runs 26, we're fairly equally matched.
He was hurting.
But he made it.
And even managed a smile afterwards.
Many of the runners did a post-race soak on the beach.
Lyle opted for flopping down on our bed. I think he's down for the count.
While he sleeps, I plan to support our dog's booming business on Catalina Island. I've always suspected that Olaf was a bit of an entrepeneur.
Lyle woke me up at 5:30 this morning and said I had one hour to get ready for our flight. HUH? He said my bag had been packed and arrangements made. Cholita, who'd snuck into our bed sometime in the early morning hours, poked her sleepy little head up and looked concerned. But not as concerned as her mother.
What about Cholita's doctor appointment today? Changed.
Did you know I have Sharing Time this Sunday? Someone else is doing it.
Rose has piano. Covered.
Who's watching our kids?! It's arranged.
I looked in the suitcase Lyle packed for me. I've noticed it includes a bathing suit (fine) and exercise clothes (what the heck type of kidnapping is this?) A fat farm? I'm stressed.
And worried. And so sorry to the people who will be staying at our house. If I'd known I would have cleaned the oven. And dusted the piano. And cleaned any hair out of all sink and shower drains.
My husband is telling me we'll miss our flight.......to somewhere. He's not saying.
My apologies to whoever is stepping into my chaotic life. I'll be praying for you.
I would have elaborated about some things I mentioned yesterday, but I was just too tired, so I will elaborate now. The dog chase doesn't sound very funny, but you had to be there. Jade, Sahora, and I went to watch some puppies fighting over a feather. We saw a dog covered in mud sleeping nearby. One kid sort of prodded the sleeping dog and all of sudden, it jumped up barking and chased everyone around the courtyard. It was hilarious to see everyone's faces. We laughed so hard.
Today we drove in a horse cart out to a small village to set up a clinic there. The day was beautiful. We passed other carts, boabob trees (which are enormous), and huge mounds of dirt dug up by termites.
Kristin in front of a baobob tree
Clinic seemed like it would never end. I worked with the kids today outside in the sun. It was hot.
Taking a break with Dad. He looks tired too.
Afterward, I went inside and basically sat there the entire time. There were quite a few teeth that wouldn't come out today. Twice, those not working prayed for the tooth to come out and twice, right when they were done, you would hear, "it's out."
I went home on the horse cart, but it wasn't as fun as the trip there because I was squished between two sweaty old men. When I got back, I had my hair braided by a Senegalese woman. It hurt A LOT, but I like how it looks.
Outside of our compound, two Senegalese men were getting heated up about something, we didn't know what. It got so bad that everyone had to go inside. One of the men (someone living in our compound) actually stabbed the other man in the ribs with a knife and took off afterwards. The stabbed man was brought inside and then taken to the hospital far away.
The family vernacular for tidbits of food left on a plate after a meal, as in, "I'll give my scravings to Charlie," or "I CAN have dessert. This is just scravings." It seemed an appropriate word for the little morsels thrown out on our blog. Sometimes tasty, sometimes destined for the dog dish.