January 31, 2009
Zach had a soccer tournament at the school this weekend. Will did not know until they arrived that he was volunteered to coach a team! They were "Team Barcelona" and they are both very proud to say that Team Barcelona won the championship in their division! So after a long day at the tournament Zach came home with two medals and Coach Will came home with an African sunburn!
January 25, 2009
We went and checked out the “Mall” for the first time this afternoon.
It’s an indoor mall, but it has more of an outdoor mall feel to it. Only bits and pieces are air conditioned. There are a lot of stores which makes it look like an ordinary mall at first glance, but if you really look in the windows most of the stores are not selling things you would actually buy. They are selling odd, not-so-everyday things, like big circular beds, fancy jewelry and boutique type clothes. And everything is SUPER expensive. As I walked through the mall I just kept thinking, “So who actually buys this stuff?!” It seems like the foreigners wouldn’t pay the crazy prices because they can get that stuff at home and the locals can’t afford it. I guess it’s the richest of both groups. Not sure how the stores stay in business, but I can guarantee you that I am not going to help them out.
We didn’t buy anything, but we did enjoy our first meal out- a pizza at the foodcourt. The foodcourt pretty much looks like a foodcourt from a mall at home. There were a lot of different options for places to eat (a hot dog place, a burger place, a chicken place, a chinese place, etc.), but we played it safe and stuck with the pizza place, called “Paradyse Pizza and Pasta”! We ordered a cheese, tomato and chorizo sausage pizza. I was shocked when it came out as expected because the man who took our order did not speak any English and he wrote our order down on a random piece of blank white paper…with a pen that didn’t have any ink!
It really did turn out super yummy though. Our large pizza and 3 cans of soda cost $40. Will summed it up the best when he said, "You get a sip and a slice for $5!"
January 24, 2009
Zach treated us to a “pikelet” breakfast this morning. He came home from school on Friday all excited about the recipe they learned how to cook at school. They are called pikelets, and my best guess is that they are New Zealand pancakes, because his teacher, Miss Nikki, is from New Zealand. They tasted like more like crepes, but had the consistency of thick pancakes. Super yummy! Here is the exact recipe and a picture of Chef Zach at work!
Ingredients: 1 egg ¼ cup sugar ¾ cup milk 1 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1. Beat the egg and sugar until thick. 2. Add the milk. 3. Put the flour and baking powder in. 4. Mix until smooth. 5. Put spoonfuls of mixture into the frypan. 6. Turn over when they start to bubble.
January 23, 2009
Zach joined a Cub Scout troop! They meet right here on the compound at somebody's house. He came home from his first meeting so excited about earning badges! Rumor has it they even go camping! Pretty crazy to join Boy Scouts for the first time...in Africa!
January 18, 2009
January 16, 2009
When our maid, Isabelle, left for the day today she said, "Bye!" (the only word she knows in English except "cookie") to all the kids. She said, "Bye!" to Zach, "Bye!" to Nolan and then she looked at Colby and said what sounded like, "Bye Colby me loo-coo!" Now I only know a few Portuguese words at this point, but I quickly figured out that she was saying "Bye Colby My Crazy!" We've only been here 11 days and she totally has Colby pegged!
January 15, 2009
I decided to make some homemade pumpkin bread and hand it out to say "thanks" to the many people who have been so helpful to us our first week or so here. Before I even started baking I had to put the eggs I was going to use through some rigorous testing. First, I had to wash them off really well and do the visual test to make sure there weren’t any “extras” on the shell, like chicken poop droppings or tiny feathers. Then I had to put them all through the sink test. I put them all in a bucket of water to see if they sink or float. If they sink, they are still good. If they float, they have gone bad- probably sat out at the grocery store at room temperature for too long! So, 1 out of my 6 eggs was a floater and I had to throw it away. So sad. I was ready to start mixing all my dry ingredients, so I measured out the sugar, baking soda, baking powder and flour and dumped it into a bowl. I started to measure out the spices to go in the mix and I realized that I did not have any teaspoon measuring spoons, only tablespoon. No problem, I’ll just wing it! But then as I looked a little closer I realized that I didn’t have tablespoon measuring spoons either, they are metric measuring spoons! I called Will on the phone at work to help me out and he tried to give me some conversion lessons. Ended up being way too much math for me, so I scrapped the project- didn’t want to waste my precious canned pumpkin- I only brought 6 cans over here! So I began cleaning up. I had to toss out all the ingredients I had already measured out because they are all white and there was no way to separate them and save them at this point. As I tossed the measuring cups in the sink to be washed I realized that they weren’t right either- they are also metric! Oh my! Before I do anymore baking I either need to go back and get a major in math, move to England, or just patiently wait for the package my dear friend Liz is sending me with real measuring tools to come in the mail! (wonder how long that will take to get here...) After I discovered that baking was not going to be easy, I decided to try my first “new recipe” for dinner, and what that helped me discover is that this house has no smoke alarms! I was SO excited about making dinner tonight! I bought a fresh, locally grown mango at the grocery store and I couldn’t wait to use it! I also had a green pepper and some thawing chicken in the refrigerator, but I don’t have any recipes with mangos in my recipe collection. So, I got onto Allrecipes.com and found the perfect recipe which uses all three ingredients, called “Chicken and Pasta in a Mango Cream Sauce.” I printed out the recipe and then I Google-ed “how to cut a mango” as suggested by some of the reviewers on the website, since it can be kind of tricky. I took careful notes on how to do it and I was all ready to go. When Will got home from work I started chopping everything up and then I heated the olive oil in the skillet, as it says to do on the second line of the recipe. While it was heating up I finished prepping the rest of the ingredients and then the next thing you know I was yelling, “Will! I need help!” because the kitchen was filled with smoke! It was so thick it was hard to see and it smelled really bad. (I guess I’m not quite used to the gas cooking and the cheap pots and pans they supplied us!) We had to open up all the windows in the kitchen and open up the garage door and the door between the kitchen and the garage to get some air flowing in there. When we finally got the air quality back to normal I put the scorched pot in the sink and decided to start over. Just as I was starting to heat up the oil again I realized that the kids’ fish stick dinner was burning in the oven (the dials on the ovens do not have any numbers- they got washed off- so I just have to guesstimate what temperature I'm using!)! Long story short, I saved the fish sticks and our dinner was not ready until after the kids went to bed, but it was well worth all the hassle and the wait- it was delicious!!
January 14, 2009
The weather is unusually warm (as opposed to super hot) around here right now, so we've been outside a lot-meeting new people, swimming in the pool and exploring all the new
nature things Africa has to offer.
There are many different bugs, but most of them we've seen (so far) aren't big, scary or hairy. There are lots of large black ants that scurry around everywhere super fast and bump into each other- great entertainment to watch or try to squash or try to catch. (Colby is demonstrating that in the picture below).
The landscaping is a lot greener and more colorful than what we expected. We have many new kinds of flowers and trees around our house, none of which I know the names of, except the "lime tree"- that one's pretty easy! (Nolan is standing in front of it in a picture below). Although we can actually eat the limes off the tree, we've only used it for shade so far! *note: since I originally posted this we have discovered that this is not a lime tree- it is some sort of fig tree!
And my favorite "nature thing" is the view of the Atlantic ocean and the sunsets right outside our windows everyday! I'm sure with three boys we'll be finding more fun nature things around here, just hopefullly not in our beds or food!
January 7, 2009
Did you know that Will has a new name around here? He goes by Oscar Quebec! Well, only to the chauffeur service that drives us around. Oscar Quebec is our "call sign." So when we are ready to go somewhere we have to contact the headquarters to let them know that Oscar Quebec at Casa Foxtrot (that's the name of our house, instead of an address) needs a "kilo" (taxi) at such and such a time. Crazy! So we are trying to learn Portuguese and Kilo-talk all at the same time! Zach and Colby ride to school on a mini-bus. It only picks up the kids on our compound and lucky for us, it picks up right in front of our house! Zach and Colby love riding the bus (and Nolan likes riding along just for fun too!) The roads here are interesting- sometimes you have paved roads with lines down the middle and sometimes you have curvy, dirt roads. In both cases, there are many, many ruts in the road and there are no set lanes- the cars just merge and pass to get to where they want to go! They never use blinkers, but they use their horns all the time! Amongst all of this chaos are street vendors walking down the middle of the road (remember, there is no "middle" it's just all one big conglomeration of vehicles) trying to sell things to the people in the cars! Most locals drive beat up looking cars and trucks or they get around in the local taxis which look like bright blue mini-buses. They also walk a lot- right on the side of the road! You often see men pushing wheel barrows full of materials and women carrying goods in baskets on their heads. Here are some pictures of the boys getting on the bus their first day of school, a local blue taxi, and the closest picture I could get of women carrying things on their heads...
January 6, 2009
Zach and Colby loved their first day at their new school- The International School of Luanda. After school I asked how their day was- Zach said, "It was awesome!!" and Colby said, "I made like a hundred new friends!" I really like the school too- it has a very open, friendly, nurturing feeling to it. All of the classroom doors open right up to a huge outdoor courtyard. They have all the classes they had back home- math, reading, science, social studies, music, art, p.e., lunch, recess, etc. with the addition of swimming! The swimming pool at school is a huge hit with the boys! Here are some pictures of their first day...
January 5, 2009
We weren't sure if the boys were going to like sleeping inside of the mosquito netting around their beds, so when we got here we told them they had new "magic beds" in their rooms and they totally bought it! They love their new magic beds!
January 4, 2009
Going to the grocery store- what an adventure! I feel like I'm a detective, analyzing all of the packaging to figure out what exactly is inside of there! Some things are obvious, other things...not so much! For my very first trip to the grocery store I tagged along with a neighbor- thank goodness! We went to a store called "Casa dos Frescos", which I would say is more like an oversized quick mart than a grocery store. Picking stuff out wasn't that hard because I was really just going for the basics- milk, cheese, water, etc. But the whole different currency thing (the Angolan money is called Kwanzas) just threw me for a loop! Since it was a Sunday, the "cambio" (change booth) was closed, so they said they would take American Dollars at the register. When I got up to the register, I unloaded all of my groceries onto the counter and waited for the cashier to check me out. When he was finished he blurts some big number out at me so I panic and just fan a bunch of 20 dollar bills at him. He takes 4 of them and then types the total amount into his cash register. Then he comes back and says, "240 Kwanzas" so I say, "Oh, you want more money?" and he shakes his head and says "noooo." So I ask, "Oh, you want less money?" and again he says "nooooo." Oh my, what else could he possibly want?! At this point I'm getting nervous because I don't know what to do and I feel like everyone else in line is starring at me, so I shoot the neighbor a look and say "He keeps asking for 240 Kwanzas, but he doesn't want more or less of my money. I'm so confused." The neighbor pays the cashier 240 Kwanzas and we walk out of the store. I later realize the cashier just didn't have small enough Kwanzas to give me change, so he needed me to give him some Kwanzas in order to make change. No clue what I would have done if I was by myself! So here is what I bought that day... 1. Six 1-liter boxes of milk- 1,118.5 Kwanzas ($14.91) 2. Four 4-oz yogurts- 1,095.1 Kwanzas ($14.60) 3. Four 1.5 bottles of water- 592.8 Kwanzas ($7.90) 4. Two cartons of juice- 569.4 Kwanzas ($7.59) 5. One block of cheddar cheese- 616.5 Kwanzas ($8.22) 6. One can of Pringles potato chips- 481.3 Kwanzas ($6.42) 7. Two rolls of paper towels- 366.6 Kwanzas ($4.89) 8. One bottle of kids bath soap- 399.4 Kwanzas ($5.33) For a grand total of- 5,239.6 Kwanzas or $69.86! So everything is very expensive and things can be hard to find. People say they have become hoarders- buying up as much of an item as possible when you see it in a store because you never know if the store will have it the next time you go in...or ever again! Here are some pictures of my bounty from my first shopping trip and my very first Kwanza!