Thursday, August 21, 2008

Knit Night

I hosted my first Knit Night in Khartoum last night! So exciting! I didn't knit much, but I gave an intro lesson and strategised on a crochet project. Mostly it was just chatting in a very comfy way. Exactly the thing I needed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some days, I just want to go home…

Today is a pretty good day, actually, but there are some not so stellar ones around here. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in a foreign country, seeing and doing things I would never manage at home.

But I miss my friends and family at home, and some of the things I used to do. (Oh how I miss my chiropractor!) So when things don’t work as I would like, I definitely have the occasional homesick day. I don’t usually write then, as I’m sure I’d come off as a big whiner, but there really are some interesting things that happen that tell you a lot about life in Khartoum (Sudan – I mention Khartoum specifically because, as the capital, it is very different from the rest of the country)

Let me tell you about my trials and tribulations with electricity in Khartoum. First, I am part of the lucky few that have access to both air conditioning and a generator. The AC is nice when it works, and then the generator powers lights, the fridge and ceiling fans (but not the AC or other high-demand appliances) when the power goes out. Since the power goes out at least once a day (too much demand on a too small supply, which yes, is somewhat related to the growing number of air conditioners in use), the generator is very nice to have indeed. The generator was on a switch, so it only provided power if someone was in the apartment to turn the switch when the power went out, so it wasn’t ideal, but still better than not having a generator at all. I could never, ever drink milk from my fridge without checking whether or not it had gone off though.

The first problem appeared in mid-July, when suddenly the generator was providing too much electricity to my apartment. Enough energy that it managed to short out eight appliances in one go (including two voltage regulators that are deigned to deal with the spikes of electricity that occur regularly with the city supply, the fridge, and both of my radios (for security))! It took a week or so, but the building management fixed the problem (something to do with the ground wire not being properly connected).

Then, at the beginning of August, the switch that changes the apartment electric supply from city to generator broke. Now, a lot of other people live in this city without a generator, but my building was built with the generator in mind. What else would explain the large, east facing windows in a desert country? So a nice Saturday, my only day off on the Civic holiday weekend, was spent lying on my couch while two to five Sudanese men tried to fix the switch. Unfortunately, more parts were needed, so it took a few more days, but did eventually work out.

But the worst was when the original problem suddenly came back for an encore! Three problems and at least twelve appliances broken, in less than a month! The owner of the apartment (who is not the owner of the building) decided he was tired of dealing with this, and told my employer to fix the problem and bill him for it. So, with our own (contractor) engineer, the problem seems to be solved (fingers crossed, knock on wood, and whatever other superstitions exist, as I haven’t had a good go of it yet). And, as a plus, he installed an automatic switch which allows the generator to kick in automatically! No more fumbling for the switch in the dark and less testing of the milk too!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Rain in Sudan...

... really does fall on occasion.


And since there's a very limited drainage, most of it sits on the street. It's currently the rainy season here, but this is the first time I've actually seen it rain much during the day. We've had the occasional downpour at night, but nothing else. However, the Nile is quite high right now, so it is definitely raining somewhere south of me.

So, work got a little crazy, as it is wont to do, and I ended up working nine days in a row. Not so tough, but it really cuts into the blogging time. I should have an entire weekend off starting Friday, which will hopefully give me some time to finish a few things up and blog about it too.


Saturday, August 02, 2008


Stolen from Everybody Loves Saturday Night

Who was your first prom date? We don’t really have prom in Canada, but I accompanied my high school boyfriend Shaun to his grad, and he did the same for me when I graduated.

Do you still talk to your first love? Yes, every so often.

What was your first alcoholic drink? Probably tastes of beer. If you mean the first thing I actually finished, I’d have to go with rum and coke.

What was your first job? Babysitter.

What was your first car? My grandpa bought me a ’90 Mercury Topaz when I moved away for university. It was a good little car, and served me well for all the time I had it.

Who was the first person to text you today? My friend Manasi.

Who is the first person you thought of this morning? I woke up from a crazy dream that involved most of by family this morning.

Who was your first grade teacher? Mrs. Elliot. Not my favourite over the years.

Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane? In grade 11, I lived with a family in Quebec for three months as part of an exchange program. It was a great experience, starting with my first ever (big) plane ride to get there. As a kid, we had a pilot friend who was teaching my parents to fly, so I have vague memories of lots of small airplane rides then.

Who was your first best friend and are you still friends? The first one I remember would be Kimberly in grade one. I haven’t seen her since then, as she moved away after that year.

What was your first sport played? I was a dancer and a gymnast as a kid. I didn’t really play any team sports until I started soccer as an adult.

Where was your first sleepover? I would guess Tamilyn’s house, as we were friends at about the right time, but it might have been Jaylyn’s or Megan’s too. It might even have been my house for all I know.

Who was the first person you talked to this morning? Abdu

Whose wedding were you first in? My sister’s. And she is younger than me.

What was the first thing you did this morning? Made coffee? Actually, petting the cat probably came first.

What was the first concert you went to? Meat Loaf, with Cheap Trick as the opener. It was a great concert, and I still love the music now (although I have a limited tolerance for the length of Meat Loaf songs sometimes.)

What was your first tattoo or piercing? My ears were pierced when I was five or so. I don’t remember the exact age, but I remember not really knowing what they were doing for the first one. I cried for a long time before I agreed to get back into the chair for the second one, and I still moved so that the second hole is crooked.

What was the first foreign country you went to? The US, although only for a day ski trip in high school. Italy w as the first one I stayed overnight in. I moved there after my first year of university to work as a nanny.

What was your first run in with the law? Unless you count a speeding ticket, I’ve never had one.

When was your first detention? In grade six, I got lunchtime detention for a week because I passed around a petition to my classmates that said that the undersigned hate insert name here (the class bully). I also remember getting in trouble for staying in and reading during lunch hour in fourth grade, but I don’t think detention was the punishment.

What was the first state you lived in? Umm, none. I was born in Saskatchewan, but lived most of my life in Alberta.

Who was the first person to break your heart? I respectfully decline to answer this question.

Who was your first roommate? I shared a room with my sister as a kid. After that, it would be Kale (?) in my first year university. I’m not sure if I’ve spelled that correctly, that’s how firmly I’ve put her out of my mind. It wasn’t a good experience.

Where did you go in your first limo ride? We took a limo from the airport once in Vancouver. A bunch of us arrived on the same plane, and the per person cost was the same for four in a limo as for two per cab. (Very exciting, I know)