Day 17: Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014
Easter Sunday. I had a jump start on it from the Vigil the night before, and slept like a baby after one of the longer days in my memory. I slept solid until just before 9 AM, when my alarm was set to go off. The sun shining through the windows behind my bed and to the right towards the mountain helped ease me awake.
I woke up and read Lauds (morning prayer) and then kinda lazied around in the room for a few minutes. By the time I actually made it out to the living room, Amelia, Josh, and Cherise had already left for their church service. I was all by myself in the house. I threw on some clothes from the night before and followed through on my decision from earlier last night to get some breakfast at Mbeya Hotel. I was hungry when I got home from the Vigil, so I wasn't about to wait until 1 PM to eat again.
Getting out of the yard presented a challenge, as though I had finally inherited my own set of door keys when Carmelle left, I had not key to the front gate. Therefore, I placed my computer on the top of one of the columns framing the gate, climbed up and over, then jumped to grab my computer. Then it was off to breakfast.
I perused the menu at the mostly empty dining area at the Hotel restaurant, and settled for a "Spanish Omelette", and "Beef Sausage" (they were out of chicken), and coffee with milk. They were only 3000, 1500, and 2000 TZS (about $2, $1, and $1.25) each, so I thought I was getting a deal. What I found out was that I was getting what I was paying for. I was given the most pathetic excuse for a "two egg omelette" ever, which was essentially a thin layer of what looked to be only egg whites that probably just barely covered the bottom of the pan they were cooked in, with some bell pepper sprinkled in. Then the pan of thin egg substance was folded into four to make an "omelette". No cheese, no egg yolks apparently, no other vegetables. It was SAD. In addition, the "beef sausage" essentially resembled a just-thicker-than-a-pencil hot dog, and tasted about the same. The coffee consisted of some hot water in a small pitcher and a packet of instant coffee. I'm guessing the sugar and milk were real, but that could not be confirmed. Needless to say I finished my food in about 5 minutes and then sat and sipped on my coffee. I was hoping to make a morning out of it as I brought my computer along to do some journaling, but I just got a bit done as I had little interest in sticking around for a long time. I was afraid my still hungry stomach would make me order something else in which I would be sorely disappointed. It was truly the antithesis of the glorious chicken sizzler from the night before...maybe i should have asked if I could order that!
When I arrived home at about 11:30, everyone else was home as well. I journaled a bit more in the living room, then got fully dressed (ie put on the clothes from the Vigil the night before rather than just a t-shirt) and then waited out on the veranda for Liane and Jason, who picked me up just after 1 PM. When I got into the car, I was greeted by smiling faces from Jason, Liane, Pat, and Tom, the sight of some deviled eggs, and the GLORIOUS smell of some roasted kuku (chicken). The ride over was rather enjoyable given the present company, the fantastic smell, and the views of Mbeya as we drove a ways into town to the house at which lunch was being hosted.
After some redirection over the phone, we backtracked a bit and finally found ourselves at a beautiful house with a maroon (now we're talkin!) roof and a beige gate. The owner, Steve, greeted us at the gate and walked us in, where we met his wife (whose name escapes me, I feel terrible) who was so warm and welcoming. The house was very pretty, all finished up nicely and modern looking with what appeared to be bamboo ceilings (covered by a tile roof) and a few African highlights among their pictures of their kids and grandkids back in the States.
Not the best pictures of the house and garden, but you get the idea.
As we arrived at about 1:30, most people had already been thru and plated up some food, so I felt better about dishing up at a lunch to which I was told to bring NOTHING. Still, I waited at least until Pat and Tom dug in, which was fortunately just a few minutes as they were famished as well.
The food was abundant and it was a smorgasbord. I was starving, so as I made my way around the table I got pretty much a bit of almost everything. Two types of green beans, three types of au gratin potatoes, potato salad, ham, dinner salad, citrus glazed/candied carrots, spinach and cheese dip (an encore from the previous weeks dinner at Liane's), two versions of deviled eggs, and I'm certain a couple things I am leaving out. Oh, the ROLLS...with BUTTER. The rolls seemed to be home-made and were just about as close to those Hawaiian rolls as I've had in quite some time. Along with the butter, they tasted amazing. As many people had taken up seats outside, I sat down next to Pat and Tom in a little corner of the living room where some other people were and started devouring...blessing first, of course. I went around my plate enjoying everything and definitely making plans for seconds of certain things. Favorites were one type of the potatoes (shredded like hashed browns and sooooo good), spinach dip, and the ROLLS. After eating everything else, I used my glorious butter filled roll to sop up everything on the plate, and then sat there about as content and gastronomically satisfied as I had been in quite some time. I almost, almost felt like I was at a dinner back in the States. For about five minutes I sat and just enjoyed the content feeling, talking with Pat & Tom as well as Mark's wife Michael about how good the food was and how pacing was key. Another minute or two and I was back at the table, getting small servings of the spinach dip, another roll, and more potatoes au hash, as I call them. The content cycle repeated, with a stronger "full" component this time around and maybe a hint of "stuffed".
Food! Like, real American-ish food!
Then it was time for dessert. I grabbed a smaller plate next to the table of sweets and filled it with a cookie, some orange glazed bundt cake, a small scoop of some chocolate-ish dessert cake, and a small scoop of chocolate/vanilla ice cream. It, of course, was glorious, and when I sopped up as much melted ice cream as I could with my last bite of bundt cake, I was STUFFED...comfortably and happily though...like a teddy that's squishable but not busting at the seams.
Throughout the afternoon, I talked a bit to people here and there, but mostly I sat and ate. After I ate, I sat and was happy there in my corner seat. I was, however, brought out of my shell by a talkative little girl named Naomi...probably about ten or so. She started asking me questions about: Who are you, where do you work, do you know Dr. Carmelle, I met Dr. Carmelle, I met Dr. Carmelle at Amelia's house when she babysat for my Mom, do you know Amelia, I got to see some baby rabbits at her house that time, do you know one of the rabbits didn't have an ear so his ear must be inside his head, (and I quote) "Boy that must really tickle his brain." This kid was a RIOT. I listened intently while trying not to laugh (and succeeded) as she told me about her family, her coming baby sibling, going back to the States, and how her younger brother Elijah didn't remember grandma and grandpa in the states because the family had been there for 8 years and three years without visiting home. Shortly after that she turned her attention to someone else, and I met her dad, who had taken the seat next to her.
After a bit more relaxing and digesting, and meeting a couple other visitors, it was time to leave. As my ridemates were packing up some things, I watched the kids outside (and some of the adults) setting up a game of croquet despite the ongoing drizzle of rain. I grabbed one last roll with butter and ate it easily before everything was ready, and then after some profuse thanks to our guests, we were out the door. It was over in just a couple hours, but I was happy to have a short time in a nice, warm home that felt almost like I wasn't a world away from my own.
Gettin' ready to play "Par-kay"
We arrived home earlier than expected. As I thought we'd be gone until 5 or so, I told Ali not to expect me to call home until later after they went to Mass (which would start at 10:45 their time and 6:45 local time). As it was only 5, I grabbed my headphones and my phone and headed up the hill to Hillview Hotel to try out their wifi at their bar.
As I crossed the threshold to the Hotel grounds, I walked by the guard station like I knew what I was doing and went straight to the bar, where I found a seat very similar to the one I had taken about two weeks prior. I remembered that the wifi would not connect for me two weeks prior, so I had low expectations. I was out of options, though, with the coffee shop letting me down the night before.
Much to my surprise, my phone connected with no problem and soon I was G-chatting with Ali and the kids! I was so excited! Everyone was very happy as there was candy and goodies to satisfy each of the three kiddos, and John-Paul showed me how all of the family's "sacrifice beans" from Lent were traded out for Easter egg candies as a symbol of how God uses our sacrifices to bring us good. He was very excited, almost moreso than with stocking candy on Christmas. Everyone was doing great, and Ali let me know that our buyers had accepted our counter offer and we were proceeding with the long process of selling the house! All great news!
My little wifi hotspot.
As we chatted, I sipped on a large Tusker lager (another East African version of beer). Once we finished chatting, I finished the beer and asked for an Amarula...it was Easter, after all, and I wanted to celebrate. The waitress asked what size, so i went with her suggestion of "medium" as i figured that was maybe a double. A few minutes later, she brought a bottle about 250 ml or so in size to the table with a snifter glass. Thankfully, the bottle was unopened, so I told her I misunderstood and that I just wanted one drink. Apparently this was not an option...at least not one that I could convey clearly. I asked her to swap out the bottle for a small Serengeti beer instead...as I really didn't feel like I needed 5-8 drinks worth of Amarula, nor the 10,000TZS price that came with the bottle.
As I sipped on the beer, i caught up on uploading some pictures to Facebook, taking full advantage of the well-working Wifi. After a few minutes, though, I had finished and really had no desire to use the Wifi for anything else. I forced the Serengeti down (really, all the beers taste the same here, and after one, it's kind of a chore to push more carbonation into your stomach) and paid my tab, walking back out the door and down the hill to the house.
After arriving home, I finished up a crossword or two and then set to journaling, as I was still FAR behind. I got somewhat caught up when Amelia asked if I wanted to play Mancala...I won't spend the time explaining the rules here, but I had never played, and now can. It was fun, and after getting some guidance on the first game, I split a few games against Amelia and Josh (okay, so I won one of like four games). I'll be honest: the game was more fun than i expected it to be. By then it was past 10, and certainly time for bed. I made a few notes for journaling so as to not forget some of the details, and then was off to bed after a bit of prayer and thanks for a wonderful weekend.
The puppies gettin' bigger!