well christmas is over and all in all it went pretty well.
from time to time i will be pretty honest with y'all and this is one of those times (it's good to vent and not worry about who is reading it). Christmas was kinda hard. a few days before Christmas, yvonne and i got word that one of our good friends in dallas died of a heart attack. we are still overcoming that sadness... but hey... we do not greive like the rest, who have no hope (52/4/13-14). you can be thinking us often because the friend who died was buying our condo and car. we trust it will all work out for good. we of course missed family at Christmas too. we have friends here we spent it with but nothing makes up for mama's cookin' and love... and i guess you could say that a "white christmas" was out of the question... haha. well nothing chears up our hearts like landon and i hope these pics will do the same for you!
well christmas is over and all in all it went pretty well.
yvonne and i went to the coiffure this morning... they borrowed the hair dresser word from french. well i went in the gents side and she went to the ladies side. while she was enjoying her shampoo, color treatment, and then style (for 21 dollars i might add), i was next door getting my haircut and getting fetlah.
everything was great. i got a good haircut, a shampoo, a great super-close shave.... and then the fetlah. so what it is is this: the guy takes a really long piece of dental floss type string and puts one end in between his teeth and then makes an intricate web of strings around his fingers. he then pulls it tight using his teeth so that all the little web holes close up... around the excess hairs on your face which rips them out with excrutiating force. my eyes were watering and on the verge of forming tears... especially when he did it around my ears. OUCH! after the fetlah and him trimming my nose hair, i feel all groomed up!
come on out and visit and i'll take you to the coiffure! haha
we just love this picture. it was actually taken by yvonne from the taxi cab window the other day. it isn't everyday that you see a little girl, with a backpack, riding a camel around with her baba (daddy).
this one is fun too but it just ain't the same as the one above. this is when we were driving around town. we actually almost hit some goats/sheep the other day in our taxi. we were mere inches from having lamb kebabs that night! haha!
it was date time and so we got a sitter and skeedadled for a nice night and some Christmas fun.
it was a fun night. here is where we went...
1. Our first stop was the space needley type tower thingy in our city. it is about 613 feet high. so we went up there and walked around and looked at our city by night.
2. After seeing spectacular views and enjoying that we went back down and got in a horse and carriage and toured the downtown area on the way to our restaurant for dinner...
3. Johnny Carinos baby! it was definetely nice to have a taste of home again. of course the dish we always get has bacon and therefore didn't taste quite the same with beef bacon... these people don't know what they're missing! It was quite a special treat... oh and did i mention that this restaurant that has both chili's and johnny carino's in it is on a boat docked on the river here?
oh don't ask about the duck and the bear. they were the greeters on the bridge onto the boat. i have no idea what in the world they were supposed to be... some pseudo-daffy and poo-imposter? or maybe they were just a duck and a bear. who knows... it was fun to get a picture taken with them nonetheless.
4. i got us some tickets to the opera house here for an international Christmas show. it had the symphony orchestra, the celebration choir and the opera company doing carols and other Christmas music. we ran into our neighbors there too... it was crazy. we saw the wife lighting up a cigarette (nearly everyone smokes here) in front of a no smoking sign inside the opera house lobby. everyone was doing it so no big deal i guess.
This was a lot of fun and was a good part of helping us feel like it really is Christmas time!
so here's the story...
we went down to a book fair downtown the other day. once we got home yvonne did her quick breathing in thingy (you know the kind you do when you're really freaked out!) because she realized she left her purse in our cab. there was no money in the purse but there was a digital camera and a cell phone. so i called the cell phone over and over and over and over and they finally picked up when i was on my way to Landon's daycare to make sure we hadn't left it there. i got my neighbor to talk to the guy because i didn't understand a lick he was saying. it turns out that the next patron that got into the cab we were in took the purse out of the cab. so blah blah blah back and forth and my neighbor gives him directions and says he will be here in 40 minutes.
well pushing two hours later... the guy shows up with the purse with all things intact and in place. i was going to give him a reward because he brought it back but he told me he wanted 5 times what i had handed him (and what my neighbor said was sufficient). well we got our stuff back and it wasn't that expensive so we are quite happy regardless.
well the title of the entry has to come into play at one point or another... they took pictures with my camera while they had it. enjoy...
I was dispatched today, under formal decree of Madame Tim (she refers to herself as Mrs. Tim now as to associate herself with me to others and to show that she is an honorable woman), to acquire a Christmas tree here. We had bought a fake one about a week ago but it was flippin' huge... i mean 'ginormous'! so we returned it and today i was commissioned and ordered to acquire a new one... a real one. so i went and got a cedary type shubbery (i should have bought two and then made a nice little path between them... sorry for the lame monty python and the holy grail quotation).
i really one upped her expectations because they had wreaths for 2.50 but I paid a whole extra dollar to have it with decorations on it. i also bought a pot for the tree to sit in, 12 pinecones and two poinsettias. all in all i dropped about $26 which made me happy... and all this great festiveness warmed yvonne's heart a lot. we also just bought a Christmas album off of iTunes with an iTunes gift certificate my mom gave me. we're just about all decked out and ready for Christmas now!
here are some pics...
Merry Christmas y'all!
so i was walking up the 4 fights of stairs today and i met one of our neighbors that I had never seen before. she was very nice to me and said that she wanted to me to drop by anytime and bring my wife and son.
so on our way out of the house around 5pm, we dropped by to say hello. they were eating dinner it turned out and they would not accept no as an answer when they asked us to join them... so we ate, talked in arabic for a good bit (they knew we were studying so they were helping us), had some tea, and talked a good bit more.
at one point moustafa said to me, "Tim, I would like to ask you a question... we watch american movies and we love them. they are very popular here and america pioneered movies. is america like the movies?"... to which i immediately exclaimed, "no! not at all. we are often ashamed of our movies." because i was almost sure he was referring to the moral side of things (sex, drugs, etc.). he said, "so the police there do not chase people through the streets shooting windows and destroying buildings?" i sorta giggled and told him that never really happens and that it is hollywood and done for pure entertainement.
it was fun.
here is a pic from a recent Christmas bazaar we went to. we got some pretty cute stuff there but nothing is as cute as my boy with the ol' man. i love the background... very middle eastern...
hey grandmas... this is big enough to click on, right click and save to file and then send to sam's club for hard copies if you want to.
so i bought this george foreman grill before we left and i packed it up to come with us. well to make a long story short... it broke in transit. it still sorta works but the base is all shattered and i just burnt my hand like 3 times. argh!
if you know anyone coming this way have them bring me a george foreman grill GRP99 unit for me. its the one with the built in timer and temperature gauge.
i'm venting :)
- go to the doctor
- wait forever in the waiting room for them to call your name
- wait forever in the patient room for the doctor to make his way to you
- tell the doctor everything that is wrong with you
- he'll take a sample of some sort
- pay a co-pay and maybe a little extra for the lab work
- deal with insurance
- the doctor will have the lab pick up the samples
- the lab will do the work (give them a day... maybe two) for them to get back to the doctor
- nurse will call your house and leave a message because you weren't there because you had no way to know when they were going to be calling
- call the doctor back and maybe... just maybe... he'll come to the phone and explain it to you
- get the doctor to call in a prescription
- go pick up the prescription
- deal with insurance
- nix the doctor and take your own stinking stool sample to the local medical lab
- pay $3.50
- call them 4-6 hours later and know what's going on
- call the pharmacy and have them deliver your prescription to your house.
we got this lovely bouquet today. it is a common thing to buy fresh flowers every week here. the guy we bought them from was really nice and helpful and we will most likely go to him for our flowers from now on. this heavenly arrangement set me back a whole $4.35.
brownie points just went on sale baby!
so during our language tutoring tonight we were talking about coffee... Our tutor said that his wife loved coffee and the way to say you love something a whole lot is by saying:
"I snort coffee" (in Arabic of course) ... kinda like cocaine i guess.
He was trying to explain it by pretending to snort something off of the back of his hand. So I asked him could i say, "I snort pizza" in arabic and he said "bezabt", which means "exactly!"
we read in a book tailored for our area called, Culture Shock, that the following might happen...
so last night we were coming home from the maktaba kabirr (the giant stationary store... that is about 1/8th the size of office max) and to save time our cab driver decided to go down a busy one way street... going the opposite direction.
he honked his horn a ton to let people know we were coming and landon, whose car seat was sitting in the dining room because it is worthless here, was having a great time!
we had a housekeeper come in today and do her thing... place looks great. she worked for 4.5 hours for $6.08.
well... here are the pictures from our flat... finally...
This is a pic of our family room. we rarely sit in here except when we have guests over. the couches are not quite as comfortable as say... the sidewalk. har har
The chairs are a little richety... but hey... it's home.
Note Landon trying to open the cabinet doors on the buffet... we keep that sucker locked because he plays in it all day long. He loves to pull out daddy's paperwork and electronic toys and toss them around.
Now... just to my back of the above photo... turn around... and you can see the hallway.
- 1st door on right - kitchen
- 1st door on left - TV room
- 2nd door on right - bathroom (1/2)
- 2nd door on left - Landon's room
- 3rd door on right - bathroom (full)
- straight ahead - master bedroom
Here is our kitchen...
the gigantic American style fridge is to my back (it's bigger than the one we had in the states) which is very unsualy (the size) because most fridges here are rather compact. We have a ton of cabinet space, a lovely Caloric brand gas stove and oven (which I adore) and of course the George Forman grill we brought is to the right just outside the picture... too bad the base shattered. :(
Well it still works...
This is one side of our TV room. The couches look nice but yet again feel like you're sitting on a park bench. :)
We like to chill in here and watch our 1 free hour of English TV each night... well actually we are longing to do that as of late because we have our language lessons from 8-10pm and the free hour is from 8-9pm so we haven't gotten our daily dose of hedonistic US TV for nearly a week :)
The doors in the back right are to one of our three balconies. We go out there to hang up our clothes to dry :)
This is just the other side of the same room... the only reason I am including this picture is because you can see where I am sitting when I am blogging, emailing, etc.
That egg shaped lookin' thing hanging on the wall in the top right is our water heater.
Just to the left of the cabinets you see under the sink is a washing machine... small but satisfying.
A taxi from our house to the babysitter to Chili's... $1.50
Fajitas for two, two drinks and an appetizer at Chili's... $19.00
Two movie tickets to the Wedding Crashers, a bottled water, a popcorn, and two ice cream bars... $10.50
Not having to worry about sex scenes in the movie because the government automatically censors them out... priceless!
Seriously y'all... it was so nice. It was wierd because two people would be in the bedroom and then bang... it would switch to having dinner in the dining room.
so i am not used to cooking with gas, which means i have never expereinced "even" cooking. wow... do i love my gas stove and oven! i was watching the pies as they cooked like a hawk! I was not about to let them burn or anything. this was big responsibility on the new guy's shoulders.
the crust was super flakey... the "priceless pecan pie" was amazing! i got it off of allrecipes.com and it had cream cheese in it too. wowsers. the pumpkin pie was great too but the pecan pie was definetly the hit.
here is that pecan pie recipe:
There has never been such a display of blood, sweat and tears poured into two pies in the history of man. Let me tell you what...
On Sunday we were asked to pick something to cook for the Thanksgiving dinner we are having with friends here. We heard the run down and what was missing was the deserts. So we decided to make a pecan pie... and once we kinda realized that these types of items are rare for people here, i really wanted to make a pumpkin pie too. So I have been on this quest for ingredients that has spanned 3 or 4 days now.
The hard to find items were as follows (listed in degree of difficulty from easiest to hardest)
- Karo style corn syrup - while impossible to find in our local markets which the mainly the nationals (and us) shop at... it can be found at a few expatriate markets if you know where to look.
- Crisco or some substitute (preferably one that doesn't involve butter flavored water buffalo fat... argh!) - Crisco would be another one but that same friend had a friend that had bought some for her so she gave some to her friend (me!) because she would be able to partake in said pies involving made-with-crisco pie crusts (run on sentence? yes. i know. back off!). Otherwise it would have been a 45 minute taxi ride to the other side of town where I heard it could be bought. But then later today, after I already had it I heard where I could buy it within 10 minutes.
- Pumpkin pie filling - We hadn't really even considered pumpkin pie until we saw a "thanksgiving combo pack" at a local market which had a can of pumpkin pie filling, a small bag of walnuts and a can of jellied cranberries. Once we did see it that is when the quest began to really do a great job of deserts for our friends. I asked at the same market saying, "Ana eize pumpkin pie filling lechen ana misch eize walnuts wa cranberries". Loosely translated that means, "I want pumpkin pie filling but I don't want the walnuts and cranberries." I said all that to basically ask do you have just the pumpkin pie filling. This was met with a search through store and a big fat "lah" or "no." So I looked at Massoud market and didn't find it, so I looked at Metro market and found it there (yay!)
- Pecans - Well pecans really should be the hardest because they are only available once a year at one particular store in our whole megacity, but... a friend of ours had several bags in her freezer that were shipped to her from family.
- Evaporated milk - what a nightmare! So last night I went down to exchange some money before CSI Miami came on the tele... yes CSI Miami (we get 1 hour of free American television a night from 8-9. Sunday is WWF so we don't bother)... and I stopped at a local Metro market to see if they had it. They didn't so and I ran into an expat who said it was a mission to find. He told me to go to a place called Carrefore, which is sorta like Walmart. So I did later that night but they didn't have it. So I called it night in terms of evaporated milk. Today we met with some language tutors who told us that the bigger Metro market near them might have it. They didn't. So later I tried a place, Maryam Market, recommended by an expat we met yesterday. Nope. So I tried an old faithful, Kimo market. Nada. While I was at Kimo's I saw some old friends and they said they were on the identical quest. They said that Saoudi market might have it so we joined forces and I got a free ride (and they were more polite than some taxi drivers) and lo and behold... Saoudi's had it! So I bought 11 cans... 5 for a friend and 6 for me. The end.
All of my finds... except the crisco cuz I already have the dough made in the fridge.
Like I would know what this is if it wasn't printed in English on the other side... whew!
Have a good thanksgiving!
We love y'all!
It seems to me that if we plan to do more than one... maybe two things a day that we are getting in over our heads. Yesterday I scheduled a plumber to come by at 11:00 this morning. Well... nothing is fast here and at 12:30 we decided to go see what was taking so long. We were told that he still had a good hour ahead of him before he could come and work on our flat. Argh.
Anyways... just venting.
One good thing is beef is really cheap and still good quality. We found a butcher that we will frequent. His name is Ibrahim ElAraby. A kilo of beef (2.2 lbs) ground up runs about $5.50 US... and a kilo of Filet Mignon is about $6.10 US... 2.2 lbs. of filet for $6.10! That totally makes up for th plumber.
So the other day I took a picture from our balcony because it was some of the worst pollution yet. It was horrendous! I was going to take a picture later, because it usually clears up as the day progresses. Well today was a good day to take the second picture of the horizon all cleared up and pretty like.
It reminded me of a John Denver song. The song name is "Some days are diamonds." All of the lyrics except for one line are competely and utterly inapplicable to this story but hey... the one line sure does make sense: "Some days are diamonds, some days are stone."
Please keep in mind... that these two pictures are of the same view... the second one is just zoomed in a little.
Here is the stone day...
Okay... so we went to an outdoor bazaar today called the Khan al Khalili. It is a great place and a tourist trap... but fun nonetheless. The best part is that we are not mere tourists anymore. So when they would try and sell us the touristy stuff we would say, "la shukran, ana sikeen hina. Ana misch touist" which means "No thanks. I live here. I am not a tourist." The cool part is that they would then leave us alone... well about half the time :)
We were joined on the 20 minute taxi ride with our friend kim. On the way back I saw 3 grown men riding one motorcycle! So I pointed it out to kim and yvonne. Kim then said... "oh yeah... i saw a mom and a baby on one the other day... nursing!" HAHA. wow. Not a minute later I saw a boy in the front, the dad, the little sister and a mother all one motorcycle... however there was no nursing going on.
well... we had heard this rumor that when we go to restaurants if they like our kid (and who in their right mind wouldn't?) they would just take him out of his high chair (without permission) and take him out of our sight and show him off and show him around! well y'all... it's true.
we were at chili's tonight... yes the same chili's as in the U.S. and towards the end of dinner they snagged him and took him to the bowling alley in the next door shopping area, to the patio area of the restaurant and I think at one point he made the rounds in the kitchen. yvonne and i had discussed this possibility beforehand in case it did happen and we agreed we would have to find out how we felt about it once it happened. well, once we realized what was happening we were totally at peace with it. we spent the next 5-10 minutes that he was gone enjoying each other and mainly laughing at the whole situation. it was such a riot to see 5+ adult men going crazy over our 14 month old.
after that we hailed a cab (which costs about 50 cents to go a few miles) and got the nicest taxi driver yet! he loved landon too and played with him (while driving) and made noises and kept him entertained. so i got his cell number and name (fowzi) so we can call him to give us rides from time to time.
this place rocks.
PS... earlier today we went to this awesome park that was really quite beautiful. it was called al-ahzar park. it used to be a garbage dump and then it was all fixed up. we ate at a nice french restaurant there (mmm... quiche lorraine) and then we walked to a kiddie area where there was a lot of playground equipment. landon made a 2 year old friend there, named Ali.
the first pic is of our kid in the park and the second is of some girl on a bungee/trampoline contraption with a great shot of the city in the background.
well today was insane but great. we just know that we had many people thinking about us and talking about us to everyone's dad and family. only 1 piece of luggage has been misplaced but otherwise... everything went incredibly smoothly.
no pictures yet... we're still in a daze.
more to come!
tim, yvonne & landon
okay... i'm freakin' out! but don't worry... it's a good freakin' out.
we have been awaiting this time for so long and it is here.
we will be leaving tomorrow morning from my wife's family's house in South Carolina and will be en route for about 20 hours or so.
on a poopy note... i busted my ankle yesterday so be thinking of us when we're on our way. we know we are going to be safe and protected and we always have a strong tower to lean on. i will post a pic of us and our plethora of luggage tomorrow morning.
so we got a telemarketer tonight and they asked for my father-in-law who was standing right next to me. I asked him if he wanted to speak to a telemarketer and he said, "tell them i'm dead." So i put the phone back up to my ear and said, "he said he's dead" to which, obviously not believing that, the telemarketer replied, "well, is mrs. so and so there?" to which I replied, "nope... she said she's dead too." The telemarketer then said, "well i'm sorry to hear that you have a good night." Man that was fun.
in-laws' names have been omitted for conscience sake
man oh man... my sister-in-law gave me the mad hookup for Christmas tonight. i got a bag apple fritter mix. she had given the same thing to us a few years ago and it was incredible... so i am way happy to have another bag. she said we could try and make it before we leave but i declared "forget that! i'm taking it with us and saving it for a special occasion" ... like my birthday which is later this month... oh yes apple fritters on my birthday.
the other great gift was the bag... BAG of macadamia nuts. there has been this long standing tradition in my family where we would always get a little jar of macadamia nuts on Christmas. Well once my father died the tradition became my future wife's resposibility... which i explained to yvonne before we ever got married. well anyway... i got my macadamia nuts most years but this year i got this ginormous bag of macadamia nuts.
it is amazing what you can make room for in your luggage when you are properly motivated.
Yvonne took Landon down to the Reedy River Falls in downtown Greenville today. I had a meeting downtown and so she met her sister there. Her sister brought our nephew, Andrew along and they had a grrrrrrreat time playing in the creek below the falls. Needless to say... their diapers were quite heavy by the time they were done.
ps... we need to get yvonne doing some posting don't you think? she should be coming with some posts soon.