We're Jason, Beth, Lee Anna, Sawyer, and Sarah Claire, a family of five living, learning, and laughing lots in Northern Africa.
We hope you can learn a little (and maybe laugh a little too) as you read about our latest adventures.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What do you see here?

It's another 4-legged friend! This one looks a little friendlier, if a bit out of place.

Last night, we were eating at our favorite southwest hamburger grill (which shall remain nameless). The weather was really nice, so we chose to eat outside on their cool "rocking tables." The benches are connected to the table, and the whole thing will rock gently while you enjoy your Big Mouth Burger. This also is a much easier way for the two grownups in our family to enjoy the meal, since the two junior members of the clan are free to play untethered on the play area.

When we arrived, there were three young men eating at the next table. They finished before we did and exited the scene. Since we weren't right on the beaten path, and since it was several hours past peak rush time, the waiters were a bit slow in clearing the table. The dining area is separated from the adjacent garden area by a short concrete wall with an iron rail on the top.

Several opportunistic felines have taken up residence in the aforementioned garden. We happened to catch this one as he lifted a not-quite-bare chicken wing bone and made it into a carry-out special. This was actually his second trip to the table, as we didn't have our phones out the first time he was up there.

I told Beth that we shouldn't name the restaurant, so as not to cut into their business by tarnishing their reputation, but she said that she had seen the cat up close and personal, and we're still going back. A lot.

And this guy is much more welcome to share a meal with us than our most recent 4-legged guest!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

We should be in pictures!

Recently, we had to get some more passport photos made, since we're always needing them for some official form or another. This time, we snapped the photos at home standing in front of one of Sawyer's white baby blankets, and then I took them to a Fujifilm store nearby. There are Fujifilm and Kodak stores on every other corner here, but I learned this week that they're not all created equal. There is one near a big shopping mall where lots of foreigners hang out, and the guy there is a pro with Photoshop. We basically take him a rough draft of what we want printed, tell him what we really want it to look like, and he comes up with great prints.
So I walked into this Fuji joint near home, thinking it would be similar. It was similar--they both have green Fuji signs, and computers and printers and photography stuff. I asked the older gentleman at the desk if he could print from my thumb drive, and he directed me to a younger lady beside the printer. She handed my thumb drive to a 20-something guy who was sitting behind the printer at a computer, also running Photoshop. He took my thumb drive and stuck it way in the back of his computer and found a USB port. The other shop we go to is well organized and clean, and just looks pretty professional. This place was a half-inch deep in photo trimmings and old pictures. I was a little nervous. There were stacks of old CD-ROMs all over the place. The computer equipment looked a little less than state-of-the-art, but it seemed to be functional. The whole store was probably 10 feet wide and 15 feet long, plus a small studio room in the back for taking wedding pictures and such.

I told them that I just needed 20 passport-sized prints of each of these two pictures. After about 10 minutes, they handed me an envelope with the 40 pictures I requested, plus a couple of 3x5 inch prints of each of us, plus the lovely little strips you see above (at no extra charge). I was almost tempted to get an 8x10 of myself with the purple bubbly heart frame, but decided to wait on that for a while.

The pictures below are what we didn't use for our passports this time. I was trying to make a serious face, and just couldn't quite get it together.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ratatouille in Africa

This post originaly written on Sunday, March 2
As I write this, there are three men in my kitchen. One of them is my husband, and the other two are the doorman for our building and a relative of his. They are in our kitchen (and have been for quite a while now) because when I went in to finish the dinner dishes after getting the kids to bed, a rat scurried out of our sink and behind our washing machine! Yes, the sink I was walking toward contained a rat! And not a small one, I might add.

Jason came running from the bedroom to see what all the commotion was about, and when I told him, he quickly decided that the boab should handle getting him out of our kitchen. After all, what are we paying them for if not for rodent removal? So he went outside but couldn't find the boab, so he asked his wife what to do about a rat in our kitchen, hoping she would share some ancient Arab secret for trapping rodents. Her solution? "Hit him!"

She came in with the other boy and they tried to catch him, but when the rat ran toward her, she got so scared that she dropped the plastic sack she was supposed to catch him in. Apparently, there are some things that we all feel the same about!

So that's why three grown men are standing in my kitchen moving things around trying to find the rat that we're sure is in there. It's been about an hour now since we first saw him, and he has disappeared.

Okay, it's later now, and the rat is gone. Jason finally found him, hiding in a water drip pan under our refrigerator. The boab wore Jason's big thick grilling gloves to grab him by the tail and pull him out. All in all, it was pretty gross and traumatic.

Here are a few pictures I took after the fact. I was afraid to take the camera in the kitchen while he was still there because I knew if I saw the rat I would drop the camera!

The site of the original spotting. He ran from under that green bowl to the corner behind the washing machine.

All the stuff that got moved to the table so they could get to him.

The hiding place. He was under that fridge for a good half hour while they tore our kitchen apart looking for him. Finally, after the boab and crew had left, Jason spotted that skinny tail.

Here's one of the boab's sons. He was curious enough to come stand outside the door with me, but not really interested in getting any closer to the action. I think he was proud to have his picture taken, though.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Our Little Rembrandt

I apologize for being slow in posting. I have an exciting story to tell about an unexpected four-legged visitor we had a few nights ago, but I don't have time for that tonight, so I thought I would just quickly share this beautiful masterpiece that Lee Anna drew for me today. Although I'm sure you didn't need the lable to tell you who it was, she was gracious enough to write my name on it. She also explained that you could tell it was me because there was no beard.