Saturday, 26 November 2011

First day on our own


At 6:30 this morning I was woken by the sound of drums and gongs and shouts and singing. The moment before, I had been in Zwolle, climbing up and down the central staircase of the GH (why there, I’ve been there maybe two or three times in my whole life?) and looking in all the toilets and shower rooms for my briefcase and for Marijke’s CERAN bag. Without success, for all of Africa was making noise just outside our bedroom window and my dream was abruptly replaced by something even stranger. By the time I had disentangled myself from the mosquito net and had pulled on my shorts, the procession had passed by. I have no idea what it was about, but this was definitely a cheerful way to wake up.

Cheerfulness was welcome, because during the night both Marijke and I had been struck by stomach cramps and diarrhoea, she a bit worse than me, poor thing. Whether it was the food (I don’t think so, really: because I had prepared the mutton couscous myself and everything was either well-stewed or properly disinfected) or the water or the sweet Fan-Milk treat Didi had given us when we dropped in to see her at her shoe stall yesterday afternoon we will never know. But it was an interesting experience. We decided not to go anywhere today, just to stay at home, get used to the heat (somewhere around 30 this morning, a bit above that by now), and to organise the cupboards and clothes shelves.

Oh yes, and to look at the house across the street. Almost completed two years ago, and then the lady for who it was being built died. Didi (the ex-housekeeper of this house) knows the family, and she arrived around 8.30 with a key. So we took some time away from the toilet to go look. And we were very pleasantly surprised: a little smaller than what we have now, but with a huge walled in garden, and new…! That is important here, because things get run down quickly, and repairs are done creatively. The ceilings need to be put in, the walls need painting, but that’s it. And the garden… There is a lemon tree, a mango, an avocado, a coconut, cassava and tomatoes and lots of room for anything else we would like. And ‘look!’ said Didi, ‘une latrine. Pour les etrangers noir…’ Outside, near the gate; black visitors would not have to use the white man’s toilet…. We laughed about that; what a sense of humour the lady has. She’s had a very hard life, she has worries for her children and her grandchildren, most of whom are dependent on her, but she know how to laugh.  She’s retiring now from housekeeping, and is sad about that (also because she’s been in service to DVN-people since 1997 or thereabouts), but her daughter Mariette will be taking over, if it works out for her and for us. Mariette has four children (only one of whom can live with her at the moment),  no husband, and no means of support. If she proves to be the person we’re looking for, she will be able to live with Didi and bring her family back together again. We’re meeting her on Monday, and we’ll work with her for a month before deciding.

Tomorrow is Sunday. Time to meet the church family here.


  1. Hey Mom & Dad,

    Nice house, but I thought you were getting Gerrit & Titia's place? What made for the change of plans?

    Love from Ian, Lydia & the kids

  2. Hi, well, the start is not so nice, but i guess that is behind you now. Do you mean to say you will be having a lady doing your housekeeping? That must feel strange, and uncomfortable, seeing you both are still healthy. Jeanette

  3. Try doing housework all by yourself at 30-40 degrees everyday! At that temperature it would be good for anyone to be able to share the work! And to give that family an opportunity to live together again - that would be beautiful! I hope that works out for all of you. Love you all - I'm sorry to hear you had a stomach bug - hopefully your bodies will get used to all the different things soon.
    Alice etc.

  4. Joe and Marijke,
    hoping by the time you read this your stomachs are settled! We will follow the blog with interst and pray for your work there. Our niece and her husband are in Cambodia, doing the Lords work there, and so it will be interesting seeing the different stories and similarities!

  5. Alice, the reason I asked is that I do housekeeping for older folks, and am a tiny little older than your mum, and no-way would I want someone doing my house just yet, no matter what temperature! also housekeeping does not have to be done in one day. Helping some-one to earn some money is never wrong. I did not try to imply anything else, Jeanette

  6. Tante Jeanette,
    You are way older than mama! ;)

    But one of the reasons papa and mama have a housekeeper is because if they would say they didn't need one, a whole family would lose their source of money. I don't think housekeeping is mama's hobby, but she would do just fine without help. But hey, I think it must also be quite handyto have someone in the house who knows the town and the people.

    Don't add to many photo's papa and mama! I am starting to covet!!! ;)


  7. I don't think Jeanette was criticizing..just that after so many years it would be a strange feeling:)
    I on the other hand working full time- would love a housekeeper - told Ken he could take a second wife..but only for housekeeping duties

  8. Does that mean you'll be needing a ringbearer?