Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Friday, February 26, 2010

my dad was enjoying life as the owner of a successful clothing factory in Zambia

Apparently if you search for the above on Yahoo you get me. Well, 4th anyway.

Stuck at work waiting for something that needs to be in DC by close of business and really not wanting to be here. Oh well, such is the glamourous life of a diplomat.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The amazing adventure of a 1999 Toyota Hilux Surf

Our spiffy new Toyota Hilux Surf is resting snug aboard the MV Sanderling Ace. It left Nagoya, Japan on January 22 and is currently here.

If our car's journey to Lusaka follows along the lines of the tales I've been told, it will generally take longer and cost more to get the car from Durban, South Africa to Lusaka than from Japan to South Africa.

Doesn't seem right, but there you go.

We are waiting expectantly for the new addition to our family, mostly because it will mean Katherine will need to be less of a cab driver than she is currently being.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthday Party Fun

On Saturday we went to Jake Mott's first birthday party. Jake is the younger brother of Jack's friend Keira, and the son of our friends Jason and Kelley.

On Sunday we went to another birthday party. It was at the home of Jack's good school friend Mwansa, and was for her uncle and aunt, twins who were turning six.

It was a rather large affair.

Jack had a good time with his aforementioned friends Keira (c) and Mwansa (r). We tried hard to get a good picture of the three, we really did. This was about the best we could do.

The party was chock-a-block with fun things to do. It had the requisite bouncy castle, of course. And a huge gaggle of kids to run around with.

It also had quad bike rides. A first for Jack, who lined up repeatedly for a go-round. Helmet laws are somewhat lax so we figured that must mean head injuries don't really happen here.

Another first for Jack...Horse rides. A heckuva party.

Sam, Katherine and I were there too, but we were invited as "and family" so we mostly just hung back and drank beer.

Mwansa's step-grandmother took a liking to Sam and carted him off to her table for a bit.

While Jack took some time out to sit in Mwansa's grandpa's lap.

Mwansa's grandpa happens to be Rupiah Banda, President of Zambia. His six-year old twins had a birthday party and Mwansa invited Jack and some other friends to attend. Pretty fun all around.

I mean, not many grandpas arrive at parties via helicopter behind the bouncy castle.

Jack has, by the way, requested that all his grandpas arrive via helicopter from now on.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The other monkeys

Introducing Pippa and Harper, who you first met back in Christmas 2007. Harp is 4 and Pippa 2. Jack had a good time playing with both, but REALLY took a liking to Harper. He continually tried to hold her hand and even asked her to dance at one point. As we were walking somewhere, Jack turned to Kevin and told him that he loved Harper and was going to marry her. I think Kevin thought it was cute, but because Jack was talking about his daughter...not that cute.

It was a case of unrequited love. Harper wasn't so interested in holding Jack's hand, dancing with him, or marrying him. She was, however, enamored with Sam, as was Pippa, who informed me upon my arrival that I had a baby named Sam and he was small and he could not walk. All true.

Pippa, Harper and Sam, with Jack being ignored over to the side. Sam doesn't know quite what to make of it, I think. Harp on the left, Pippa on the right.

They did work well together to make strawberry muffins.

And Jack got to learn how girls go to the bathroom in the yard.

Jack was particularly impressed with how Pippa peed without pulling her pants down AT ALL!

All in all, and educational weekend.

An additional hazard on the golf course

So my conference ended on Friday at noon. At 12:30 I teed off. We were staying at the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club afterall.

I was just crushing the ball, and credited the rental clubs with the added distance. By about the fourth hole I realized that, with Nairobi at about 5500 feet, it was the elevation that was helping, not the clubs. I did, however, get an eagle on hole 12. That was all me.

So the Windsor golf course is lousy with the monkeys. They are everywhere. Nuisance really, and such a nuisance that their actions are written into the rules. A monkey picks up your ball in the middle of the fairway and drops it behind a tree on the rough...too bad, you play your ball where it lies. Now if a monkey runs off entirely with your ball I believe you get relief and get to drop, but I'm not sure.

I almost found out what to do when this guy ran right by my ball. He stopped for a second, took a look, and kept on going...eyes on the prize as it were.

The prize being the succulent fruit in the bushes on the side of the rough. He got there and got to work eating.

The monkeys were everywhere. And they were the cool monkeys that basically launch themselves from tree to tree, landing on the flexible branches before launching themselves again. So as we walked down the fairway all around you would see monkeys in flight. Quite nice.

And not a one stole my golf ball. Which I thought was mighty nice of them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nairobi = Giraffes

Jack wore his special giraffe shirt to the Langata Giraffe Center, where you can feed Rothschild giraffes to your heart's content. We've been there before, but it is worth a repeat visit.

He stepped right up on the viewing platform, put a food pellet in his mouth and waited for the sloppy giraffe kiss. Pretty fearless when you compare the head sizes.

And the kiss...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Now I know I promised you exciting stories of Johannesburg and Nairobi, but not much exciting happened in Johannesburg apart from a very exciting conference on the global economic crisis and its impact on Africa and that wasn't nearly exciting enough to write about.

Exciting things did happen in Nairobi, but the internet has been down since we returned on Monday and has just now gotten back up to speed. Something about a fiber optic cable problem between Zambia and Namibia...oldest story in the book.

Anyway, come back later on in the week. We might have something for you.

I'll give you a hint...part of our Nairobi adventure includes monkeys. Hey, I give the people what they want.