Sunday, January 31, 2010


Above is a photo taken in November, of the road leading into my home town back in South Africa

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Missing our Mum

Back home in South Africa, Tigger, my oldest cat (almost 14 years old) and Manduline the 5 year old baby of the family, cuddle together on the dressing table stool with mum's shirt for comfort.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Khartoum Baking Banana Bread

I sifted the dry ingredients before adding to the creamed mixture
Last week I had two bananas going ripe. This sparked off the idea to bake banana bread. Only one problem: there was no electric cake mixer in the flat. (When would a man ever use one? I am the first woman, in six years, to live here) I asked hubby if we could pop into Afra Merkezi (Afra Market) across town. Afra is a large departmental store where you can buy anything from a nail clipper to clothing for men, women and children including a huge baby section, to airconditioning units and top-of-the-range laptops and their attachments. It also has a huge supermarket section which sells all manner of groceries, fresh produce, fish and meat as well as the most beautiful array of chocolates, sweets, nuts and dried fruit I have seen in my life. I would love to take photos in Afra but I'm not sure whether my husband would approve. He would be wary (and rightly so) of the manager and assistants questioning my actions!

When we arrived there we walked directly to the household appliances. There were rows of shelves displaying the most modern kettles, irons, coffee machines, blenders, milkshake- and ice cream makers. There was every type of food processor there were electric meat mincers, bread machines, deep fat fryers and electric frying pans. But alas, no electric cake mixers. I looked for a hand-held model, thinking that anything was better than what I had back at the flat (an ancient wooden spoon!) No joy. Not an electric cake mixer to be had in the whole of Afra. Some day soon, we will make a foray into the city one day and track down said electric cake mixer.

It was a totally new experience to cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon

When we got home, I took out the softened margarine, added sugar and began to mix it all together vigorously (with the wooden spoon!) Soon I had what looked like a creamy consistency but I could still feel sugar granules which is never a good sign in a batter like this. I continued to make the banana bread according to a recipe I'd downloaded from the Internet and duly poured it into a foil-lined loaf pan. As I only have a gas stove here with no visible markings left on the dial, I turned the oven on to what I imagined was a reasonably hot stove. (180°C/350°F) and popped the loaf inside.

The baked item was not too bad, but not my standard banana bread. But then these weren't usual conditions and this banana bread had not been created under normal circumstances! It was absolutely delicious though. My husband had a slice while it was still on the cooling rack (he had no reservations about the shape of the bread); his verdict: excellent! That evening we both had a generous helping topped with homemade custard for dessert.

Below is the recipe which I'm sure would turn out perfectly with the correct utensils and oven temperatures.

The banana bread was delicious served as dessert with homemade custard

Banana Bread (downloaded off the Internet)

50g margarine or butter (I used butter)
300ml sugar
1 large egg, separated
1 large egg white
3 Bananas
5ml (1t) lemon juice
300ml cake flour
10ml (2t) baking powder
10ml (2t) bicarbonate of soda
250ml (1 cup) bran
125ml (½ cup) buttermilk
1. Cream the margarine and sugar together; add the egg yolk and beat well. Beat the egg whites until just stiff and fold into mixture.
2. Peel and mash the bananas and add the lemon juice. Combine mashed bananas with creamed margarine mixture.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together, add the bran. Fold the dry ingredients into the banana mixture alternatively with the buttermilk, mix well. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 45 – 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean
Serves 14.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Sunrise over Khartoum

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Curry the Dog Dewormed

The huge worm tablet measured three centimeters
Two weeks ago (on advice from my dear friend, Lynda) we set a project in action to deworm Curry, the dog which I posted about here. I say "project" because in Africa nothing is straightforward. Back home in first-world South Africa I'd pop into the vet and get worm tablets for my dog or cat. Not so simple here in Khartoum. Firstly, my husband asked around where we could find a vet. The night-watchman at the workshop said he would go to the vet for hubby and get whatever he needed.

The next day the night-watchman came to work and said the vet wanted to take blood from the dog before he could hand out the tablets. (Doh! No-one can come near Curry yet, so how would we catch him to take him to the vet?) Then the nightwatchman gave my husband an address of a shop which sells veterinarian products. Eventually after many stops and driving around the backstreets of the city,(I wish I had been with hubby; I'd have taken photos!) he arrived at the vet's shop. The man behind the counter spoke perfect English and knew exactly what was required. He placed a HUGE oblong tablet on the counter and told my husband that it should be cut into four pieces and administered every two weeks.

Curry reckonizes the ute we drive and is waiting for his food!

The night before de-worming day, I dished the leftover dinner into the container for Curry's food as normal. The next morning my husband crushed the tablet into the food, mixed it well and I added a little instant gravy for good measure.

Curry finished the last morsel of his food which was lace with de-worming medicine
When we placed the food into Curry's "dinner plate" he immediately started to eat it. My husband thought he might turn up his nose - what? At that delicious meal? No way. Curry ate every last drop, even licking the plate clean as he always does.

We have also begun crush a clove of fresh garlic in his food. I used to do this for my dogs when I lived on the diamond mines surrounded by the Namib desert. I believe it keeps fleas and ticks away which is a great help in this case where we cannot touch Curry to apply flea powder.

My husband has already noticed a vast improvement in Curry's appearance. His coat is beginning to shine (well, as much as it can under the dust and grime of his short life-time) and he is also filling out by the day. I will be going over to the workshop on the two-week date and will take more photos. I believe he will show a marked improvement to his already good condition.
Thank you dear Lynda, for reminding me of this important preventitive measure.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sunrise, a sprain, air traffic, a kiss and cleanliness

On Sunday morning I went up onto the roof after "doing" the steps. However, I was a little later than normal. The sun was already rising so I decided to run without my hand-held torch.

This was to my detriment. As I started into my ninth lap, I heard something in the street below. I looked over the parapet and when I turned to carry on running, I tripped over the Cable TV Dish cord. (Served me right for being so inquisitive!) I hit the surface on my right side just managing to keep my face from grinding into the dusty concrete. I stood up, dusted myself off and took stock of the damage. I had deep grazes on my right elbow, -hand and -knee.
I limped indoors feeling very sorry for myself, had a shower and rubbed ointment onto the injuries. My left wrist, though not externally injured throbbed with pain. I'd obviously "caught myself with this hand. My darling husband popped into the pharmacy on the way home from work and bought stretch bandage and an anti-inflammatory creme. He applied the ointment and wrapped my wrist firmly. I must admit, the pain has abated and I'm almost sure that by tomorrow I can remove the bandage. I have continued to run, using my torch again!

Meanwhile we popped into the city on Tuesday for a few items. While waiting in a traffic jam near the airport, I managed to capture a close and clear image of a plane coming in to land.

The army was out in force and we spotted many low-flying defence force helicopters.

Come-on Sweet-Pea, give us a kiss...
Back home I took a few photos of our budgies. This is not easy as the cage bars always detract from the birds and little Sweet Pea is also still quite shy. She keeps diving into her nest. They continue to thrive as a pair.
When I unpacked the groceries, I looked more closely at the toilet soap we'd bought. I LOVED the "Strawberries and Cream" soap. You can actually see pieces of "strawberry in the cake! The other soap also tickled me:
It is called "Wake me up" ...
All in a day's work in Khartoum.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Surprise: e-Baaisikele

Three of our five grandchildren watch a movie on sleepover night (we await the imminent arrival of number six this coming Saturday)

At the beginning of December I posted about a surprise we had for Emily's grandson, Siphiwe (not his real name). You can read about this here)

When John and Debbie arrived back from their holiday at the sea, I showed John the bicycle. I also voiced my concern that, in retrospect, I thought the model I'd bought, was too big for the six-year-old lad. We subsequently asked my six-year-old granddaugther (who, as can be seen in the above photo, is taller than Siphiwe) to "test drive" it. Sure enough, it was definitely too big. As he'd never ridden a bicycle before, Siphiwe would also need one with trainer wheels.

I arranged with the dealer whom I'd bought it from the dealer I'd bought it from, who was quite happy to exchange it for a suitable model. A week into the New Year, Debbie had an opportunity to go to town with the pick-up. She took the bicycle, and brought home the perfect size for this gentle little boy.

Here I need to add that Siphiwe had spent most of his Christmas school holidays at my home becoming firm friends with both my older grandchildren. Before his mum arrived from the city for her biannual visit, he slept over at my home a few times as well.

Debbie blindfolds Siphiwe (see three-year-old gs covering his eyes as well!) while John collects the surprise from the garage
Back to the "surprise". On the pre-arranged day, Emily brought Siphiwe to work with her. Daughter, Erica and her little boy, Misani, were also there, but only Emily knew what was about to take place.

Debbie explained to Siphiwe what she was doing while she blindfolded him. My two grandchildren stood by, almost bursting with excitement. I just LOVED that my grandson covered his eyes as well. Don't children just love surprises. These two knew about the bicycle but had kept the secret well. Meanwhile, John opened the garage door behind the litte group and quietly brought the bicycle out.

He placed it on the patio and when Debbie took the blindfold off Siphiwe's eyes, and he saw the bicycle, he first clapped his hands over his mouth, then he clapped his hands. I heard Emily say: "Bua leboha, me" (Say thank you to mama- note; the word "me" = madam/mama is pronounced "mare") Siphiwe thanked me, thanked Tatemaholo (Granddad - my husband was thanked in his absence) and John and Debbie. Then I told him to "palama e-baaisikele" to which he mounted the bicycle with great enthusiasm. Oh how children, especially boys love their first bikes! A real guy thing! (lol)

Catching a bit of a speed-wobble at first, Debbie ran forward to guide him. She also turned him back onto the patio and within minutes he was pedalling furiously up the driveway with granddaughter and grandson leading the way.

Our 6 yo granddaughter and grandson, Siphiwe, from our extended [Emily] family pedal up the driveway with great enthusiasm

Up ahead at the gate, you can just make out our three-year-old grandson with granddaughter encouraging Siphiwe to come...

Siphiwe took his bicycle home to the township that afternoon. Emily told me she'd keep it indoors as bicycles are stolen at the drop of a hat in her town. I suggested that she always makes Siphiwe bring it indoors so that he knows he is wholly responsible for his prized possession. (He still has to show Tatemaholo how he can ride when we go home on break in March) He also has to guard against older lads in the street who may ask for a ride and hi-jack the bicycle for a day or even for good.

I'm pleased we waited for the right bicycle.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Commit everything to the Lord

Our home in South Africa

Above is the front view of our home in South Africa. I took this photo the morning I left to fly up to North Africa. Even though it is heart-wrenching to leave all your "home" comforts, family, friends and pets, it is my place to be at my husband's side.

The Word tells us in Genesis 2:18
"And the Lord said, it is not good for man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him."

For those women who live normal lives with their husbands coming home after a day's work, this may not seem real. But it is. There are expat wives all over the world who are not able to join their husbands who work away from home. Often these are young women who raise their families on their own. They deal with the household bills, the car problems, the school head's summons. Everything.

In February 2004, I was blessed with a job on the gold mines of Guinea where my husband was managing the contracting company's plant division. I spent three blissful years on an exploration camp with my husband and sixty other expats. At first we were only a few women on site. Gradually more men were encouraged to bring their spouses over to live with them. I made many friends and even ran a health/weight-loss club every Saturday morning at my home. Not only did the club member's weigh-in at my home, but I gave a motivational talk on how to maintain a healthy life-style. It was also part of my job to edify and uplift the women who stayed on camp all day. This took the form of intra-active discussions around the table on my veranda.

In 2006, my contract ended (the company changed hands and I, along with a number of other expats, were not part of their future). My husband's company also did not renew their contract with this new mining concern and his site was in the throes of breaking up their workshop. I flew home alone and spent the following three years in South Africa. During this period I spent many precious hours with my children and their children (we all lived in the same town then) and really got into my passion of gardening.

In August 2009, exactly three years since I'd left West Africa, I flew up to the Sudan to be with my husband. Back here in Khartoum, in North Africa, life is very different. Different to my life in South Africa and very different to the expat life I lived in Guinea, West Africa. My husband is the only expat working for his company so we know no-one at this stage. However, I am with my husband (as my dear friend Betsy commented yesterday) and with a little innovation, am settling in to life in an African city.

I hold onto God's promise in the Psalms:

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you. Psalm 37:5

Amen, Lord, amen!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Black Dog

No, not the legendary black dog that hounded Churchill, but my own precious Angie back home. I took this photo of her on the golf course at daybreak at the end of December 2009

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The Golden Gate

An early summer trip through the Golden Gate National Park
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vegetarian Challah

The day after Christmas, I called my two older grandchildren into the kitchen and asked if they'd like to help me make bread. They both yelled: "Yes, please Gran!"

I gathered the ingredients together and with their "help" managed to make a new vegan recipe version of Challah. I had been motivated by my dear friend, Yvonne, with whom I spent many a lovely afternoon, watching movies. During our tea break, she always served delectable baked goods which often included Jewish treats. I wanted to try my hand at baking a Challah bread. I posted about my first attempt, which turned out reasonably well, which you can read here.

However, when I made that recipe, I used eggs which is quite normal (and I do eat eggs; no problem there) Personally though, I didn't enjoy the eggy taste in the bread and searched the Internet for an "eggless" Challah.

Not only did I find one, I also learnt how to plait the dough properly. My previous one had popped open at the end so I knew I was doing something not quite right. My granddaughter had the camera ready and took most of these photos. (I think her three-year-old brother took the above photo!)
Everyone enjoyed having a hand in the plaiting and painting with boiling water, not egg wash and helping to lay the creation in the baking tray.

And like children are, as soon as I placed the bread on one side to prove again, they dashed off outside to play. That evening when I served the Challah with our meal, they proudly told their parents that they had helped to make the "plaited bread"

The finished product. It was delicious!

2 1/2 Tbsp dry active yeast
1/3 cup warm water ("wrist" temperature)
6 cups flour
1 cup soy flour (I omitted this)
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 overripe (mostly black) bananas
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
another half cup of boiling water for brushing braids
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or sea salt to top

1. In one small bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water, put to the side to stand for 5-10 minutes.
2. Mash bananas in other small bowl.
3. In large bowl mix: oil, sugar, salt, and boiling water, stirring so it's all mostly dissolved.
4. Add the cold water to the large bowl (the mix should be warmish now but not hot). Stir in yeast mix.
5. Add bananas.
6. Add flour, one cup at a time.
7. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead for 5-10 min, dough should be smooth, not too stiff or too runny.
8. Lightly coat the large mixing bowl in oil, turn the dough in it to just coat it with oil, place a towel over the dough in the bowl and let it rise for about 1 hr, till double in volume.
9. Punch dough down, turn out and knead again 2-3 min. Divide dough into 2 balls, divide each ball into 3 sections, roll each section into long ropes and make 2 braids. Preheat the oven to 350.
10. Let the braids rise 45 min. Boil a little more water. Just before putting braids in the oven, brush them with boiling water, then sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or sea salt.
Bake 30 min. You'll know they're done when you tap them on the bottom and they sound hollow. Allow to cool on a drying rack for 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Note: When we broke this bread with our evening meal, John spoke a blessing over the children. It's amazing to see how any human thrives on affirmation, let alone a child! The time I spent with the children that day (one of many during 2009) reminded me once again how important relationships are. I, for one, will continue to nurture these relationships.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Khartoum Sky

I took this photo of a palm tree out in the street below our flat.It looks almost like a negative or a pencil drawing

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Khartoum Bread

Here I am posing at the rickshaw before going for a ride to the bakery

Passing the local bakery almost daily when in the landcruiser with my husband, I was keen to go inside and if possible, take some photos. We stop there often but my husband always runs in and emerges with the hottest, most delicious pitas on the planet. When I mentioned wanting to see the bakery again, he said why not take a rickshaw - a popular mode of transport around the streets.

As I picked up my purse and the door keys, I casually mentioned to hubby that I hoped the rickshaw driver returned with me. He looked up from his computer and with something like panic in his eyes, said, "Ask Achmed to go with you in the rickshaw." (LOL!)

I went downstairs, called Achmed and explained what I wanted to do. At first he said: "My friend, Mohamed, he have fresh khobuz (bread)" Mohamed runs a little spaza shop across the road from the flat. I said I always support Mohamed but I wanted to go to the bakery to take photos.

Once we were out in the street, standing in front of Mohamed's shop, Achmed hailed the next rickshaw that came along. (there is one every minute or so) When he relayed my request, the driver beckoned for me to get in. Pointing to my camera, I told Achmed I'd like to take photos first, would the driver mind? Achmed said: "No problem" and once I'd shown him how to use my camera, he took the above photo. I boarded the rickshaw and off we went up the street. (Somehow I forgot to take a photo of Achmed. I'll do so soon; I'm sure he'll be helping me again in the near future.)
The rickshaw, a 3-wheeled motorcycle, which resembles the infamous tuk-tuk in Thailand, is a common mode of transportation in Khartoum. Popular with the locals and those desperate enough, the fare on the rakshaw is pricier than the local bus but cheaper than a taxi. to explain

Bear in mind that rickshaw drivers are fearless, often driving against traffic and cutting in front of other vehicles when trying to cross a junction. If you are a foreigner, expect to be charged higher and don't be surprised the engine breaks down in mid-journey. I was blessed; this trip was short and in the residential area, so traffic was minimal.

The bakery manager in front of his display of delicious hot pitas

My taxi driver understood English, although he indicated he could only speak it "small-small". Once we arrived at the bakery, he walked in ahead of me and began to rally the staff around for photos.

The men who work the dough

The baker was very keen for me to photograph the pitas in the oven and beckoned me closer

The oven is a lot larger and deeper than I imagined

The baker removes the piping hot pitas and places them on the tray in the foreground

I was thrilled to encounter the delivery man and donkey and asked if I could take a photo

Driving back to the flat with a bag of hot fresh pitas (SDG1/ US$.40c for 5), we met the man with the delivery donkey. Most of his wares had been delivered already. This is another popular mode of transport. A donkey and cart can convey almost anything: humans, fruit and vegetables, milk, pita breads, building materials and bags of grain. I was delighted to see the delivery cart as I'd often seen this same animal waiting outside the bakery with a full load. As we stopped, I asked Achmed, who was waiting outside Mohamed's shop, to ask the cart driver if I could take a photo. He did, the driver agreed and within minutes I had about five passers-by watching and commenting on what I was doing.

The delicious pita breads are a daily purchase in our house

Once I'd paid the rickshaw driver, I bought a Pepsi for my husband from Mohamed's shop. I didn't want him to feel I was neglecting him! I thanked Achmed for his help and started off across the road. As I reached out to open the street gate, I noticed two beautiful ladies waiting on the corner a few yards from me. I walked back, and sticking out my hand in greeting, I asked if they spoke English. The one lady did, albeit very basically, which is tons better than my Arabic (I'm studying on the computer every evening and also learn a word-a-day on Misalyn's delightful blog which you can read here) She said her was Norma and her friend's name was Waan. They're Egyptian and live in the green building two doors from our flat building. Before they jumped into their rickshaw, she said:

"You come visit"

I will, Norma, I sure will...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Memorable Journey

Last week I posted a similar photo of my son, John blowing his shofar in the Drakensberg mountains. You can read about his here.

There was a considerable amount of interest, especially in the instrument, that I decided to post another this week. The reason for John and Debbie going up the mountains is that they take groups of people hiking.

The mountain experience is a never-to-be-forgotten one. You hike along gentle contour paths breathing in the freshest air imaginable. You stop often for tea breaks which has a unique taste because it's made with water from the mountain streams where you stop for a rest. It is the place to rejuvenate your soul by exercising your body in the most rewarding manner ever.

If anyone reading this, is interested in liaising with John and Debbie with regards to joining a group under their guidance, you can email me and I will pass you onto them.

And God said: 'Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered into one place so dry ground may appear.' And so it was. God named the dry ground "land" and the water "seas". And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:9-10

Photo Credit: Debbie Hedges

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Yesterday morning was a nightmare come true for me (here in Khartoum, that is). There is an outer door on the flat leading onto a small porch and then a security gate which you have to unlock before stepping out onto the courtyard. I am always very careful to take my cell phone and keys when I go out the [first] door.

At 9.30am I thought I heard my maid arrive and that Achmed, the nightwatchman was letting her in through the security gate. As he doesn't have keys to my flat door, I ran down the stairs and opened the door. Nobody there. I leaned out - nobody. I stepped out onto the porch and going to the gate, tried to peep out. Then I heard the flat door slam behind me. I dashed back and tried the door. Sure enough. I had left the yale lock on and it was locked. I was locked out of my flat. Not only that, I was also locked in the porch area. You guessed it: I had not brought my keys or cell phone with me...

The porch where I was stuck between two locked entrances

I began to yell for Achmed. After calling for what seemed like an eternity, he emerged sleepily from a door just visible through the bars. Wearing a long nightgown and rubbing his eyes, he approaced the gate. Greeting him, in a tone about four octaves lower, and apologizing for waking him, I asked if he could unlock the gate. I don't know how that would help me, but already I was feeling claustrophobic stuck between two locked entrances. He replied, wagging his forefinger; "La-la" (no-no) . No key - the boss man he take my key." The "boss man" is the general manager and he is in the USA until 6th February. I felt my panic levels rise another degree.

He asked if I'd like to phone my husband who was at work. (Praise God that cell phones have come to Africa. Everyone has one and Achmed was no exception) I knew it was hopeless asking my hubby to come home and unlock the door with his key, as he was having the vehicle's steering box serviced. When I nodded, Achmed dialled my husband's number and handed the phone to me. I explained my predicament to my significant other, and detecting a chuckle in his voice, I was just about to tell him not to make fun of the situation, when he said,

"No problem," (Why is everything in Africa "no problem" when here I obviously had a very big problem?) he said, "Ask Achmed to bring you a knife or a screwdriver. If you look at the door, you will see a damaged area around the lock. You are not the first person to lock themselves out of the flat. You can jimmy the lock with ease" He went on to explain how I should insert the knife blade into the gap between the door and the jamb and push it away from myself.

I passed the request onto Achmed who duly ambled off out of my line of sight. After this experience, I really sympathise with prisoners who cannot see any further than just in front of their cells. Once again I waited for what seemed like ages, when Achmed appeared through the street gate of the property. He was gleefully brandishing a knife. When he passed it to me through the bars, I noticed that it had some sort of congealed matter on it.

I approached the door and inserting the knife, turned it. Nothing. I jiggled the door handle, while I tried to turn the knife the way my husband had told me to. Nothing. (I need to explain here that I cannot fix a thing. I don't repair wall plugs, replace ceiling bulbs or change tires. My husband has always done all the maintenance in and around the house and in his absence, I've had two sons helping me when I needed it.)

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Achmed disappear again. A fresh wave of panic swept over me. I slid the knife blade into the slot again, turned it and still nothing moved.

Just when I thought that Achmed had perhaps gone back to bed, he appeared from around another corner, grinning from ear to ear, waving a HUGE flat screwdriver in the air. (See, I do know a little bit about maintenance tools: I know you get a star screwdriver and a flat screwdriver - this was a flat screwdriver.) Achmed passed me the screwdriver and I attacked the door with renewed vigor. This time, however, I added a little pressure by placing my foot against the door. (Ladies, especially mature ladies don't kick things. LOL) It opened with such a force, that with me standing on one leg, I had to scramble to keep my balance.

Behind the gate, Achmed called: "OK-OK, madam?" I looked back and asked him to wait while I fetched my key. Coming down again, I opened the gate and told him to come inside. I had a small cash gift for him upstairs. When I pressed SDG4/US$1.60, he said: "La-la madam, you my friend, no pay." But I insisted and he eventually accepted the money. Without this gentleman, who knows how long I would have been stuck on the porch?

At the same time, a huge sandstorm had built up during the night. The weather in Khartoum often turns from absolutely beautiful blue skies to blowing the Nubian desert into the city.
I went up onto the roof to capture the sandstorm but the photos don't do the storm justice. You have to live through a haboob to really experience it

For more scenes and stories from around the world, click here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Khartoum Water

The 600ml bottles of water are available in a shrinkwrapped 12-pack

Continuing my quest for healthy living in Khartoum (you can read about this here), I managed to convince my husband to purchase a water dispenser. He had been buying packs of 12 (600ml) bottles of water (SDG 9 / US$3,60) which lasted fairly long - at least 5 - 6 days. Since I'd arrived, he's had to buy a pack every second day. I did a quick calculation and worked out that he (well, the company) would recoup the expense of a dispenser (SDG 477/ US$190) in less than two months.

Our nifty new water dispenser. It has a cold and hot dispensing switch but so far I've only used the cold. Purified water on tap...

On Wednesday we drove across town to the very upmarket Afra Merkez (Afra Supermarket) Once we'd made our purchase and loaded it onto the back of the Landcruiser, my husband stopped off at the dealer where he'd been buying the 12-packs. That day he bought the appropriate 19 litre bottle of water. Cost of this large refill bottle? SDG8/ US$3.20.

Now, who can argue with math figures like these?

A dog on a building across the alley from ours. It's quite a common sight to see dogs on rooftops. They belong to the people in the buildings below and instead of having a dog in your courtyard, he spends most of his time on the roof !
A online friend, Lynda, who has a fascinating blog written from their farm at the foothills of Kilimajaro, commented on my blog that the local people probably think I am a strange Western woman who runs around on the rooftop shining a torch before dawn every morning. I was still chuckling about this while jogging on Saturday morning when I heard a dog bark. Not a far-away bark (as it would be if coming from the ground) No, it was an ear-level bark. When I stopped I looked towards the sound and saw two yellow eyes across the distance. Then I remembered the photo I had of a dog on a nearby rooftop. I had snapped this tailwagging canine on a roof across the alley a few months ago when my husband first took me up onto ours. I retrieved the photograph from my archives and have posted it above. I'm sure this animal is quite fascinated (or confused?) by the strange bobbing light on the building just above him!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Man's Best Friend?

The stray dog which my husband has been feeding in an alley since July last year. Note the terrified stance

When I arrived in Khartoum in August last year, my husband told me that he and his technician, Marcell, were feeding a dog their leftover sandwiches. This pathetically starving and terrified stray lived in the alley at the back of the workshop.

As soon as I knew about the dog, I began to keep table scraps flavoured with leftover oil or gravy in a plastic container. The dog had no name until one day I used a container which had previously stored curry(vindaloo). I had written the word "Curry" on the lid with a black marker. When my husband took the container from the fridge that morning, he said: "Love, I've taken Curry's food" The name stuck.

Painfully thin and starving, but ever watchful while eating

My husband took the photos (two above and two below) at my request a day before we went out on break in mid-September. We didn't have to ask Marcell to continue to feed Curry in his absence. He just carried on doing it. He had seen what I had saved from the dinner table and followed suit. The company night-watchman also fed Curry scraps of bread when Marcell was off for the weekend.
Curry gobbles his food

Curry was terribly nervous and would only creep along to the container of food if all the humans stood stock still.

Above is the handsome, well-padded and relaxed Curry enjoying his food on a dinner plate! In these scraps I had added the fish oil from last night's fries

This week when my husband fed Curry, he once again took photos for me. Can you believe the difference in this lad? In the "before" photos he is virtually skin and bones. You could also see how terrified he was - utterly suspicious of humans - jumping at the slightest noise.

Today however, I was delighted when I downloaded the photos to see, not only has Curry gained a considerable amount of weight but his whole demeanour has changed - for the better.

Ca you hear him say "mmm"?
He confidently approaches the plate (he progressed to a dinner plate - hubby found an old one here at home), sniffs at it and begins to eat sedately. His ribs are not at all visible anymore and his shoulders and haunches have set out incredibly.
Curry's stance at the food bowl is one of calm confidence and enjoyment

The men still only get within arms length of Curry; as they put their hands out, he shies away. Meanwhile, they continue to feed him and hopefully will, in time, gain his confidence.
Note: On Friday I accompanied my husband to the workshop to feed Curry. It was the first time I'd seen him in real life. I can honestly say that he actually looks even better in the flesh than he does in the above "after" photos. Also encouraging was the fact that the dog came running up when he saw the vehicle we were driving. He obviously knows it's the "food van"!
Second Note: I've decided that Friday 15 January is Curry's birthday.
Happy Birthday Lad!
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