Saturday, September 30, 2006


My current project is for a client that has a banana plantation and wishes to expand the hectares under cultivation and increase exports to South Africa. I'm having a terrible time getting motivated to finish the client's business plan so that we can start fundraising for the project.

The first problem is that this banana thing is an old project, not something new and exciting. This person was one of our very first clients, and he had some serious trust issues in the beginning about giving us the details of his business. Understandable. We were a new company and this client has never worked with consultants before. After about a year "developing" our relationship, the client finally decided to hand over the information necessary to create a business plan. We still lack several key pieces of information to finish the job, however, and coordinating with this client is not at all easy.

To be fair, however, we haven't pushed very hard to get this info as there is no formal deadline to finish this person's project. This is the second problem, the lack of a schedule to get the job done. No grant application deadline, no IFC-funded 30-day job period, no production start date by which we need to have funds secured. Nothing. I find it unbelievably hard to work when I'm not faced with a deadline, and am a master at just pushing my work back as much as possible. The client is not overly concerned as their company has enough funds already to start the expansion project on their own. They don't have enough funds to take it to the leve they envision - that's where we come in - but it's not like the client is idly waiting to start the project while we trot after money.

Speaking of money, the third problem has to do with exactly that. Since this client was one of the first clients Rico and B. secured upon starting this consulting gig 2 years ago, an atypical arrangement was reached. Since we did not have a track record as consultants (and because this client had never worked with consultants before), Rico and B. decided to waive any initial fees for our work and only charge a percentage on whatever funds we eventually are able to raise for the project. This was a necessary strategy in the beginning to get clients to sign on for our services, thereby enabling us to establish a good name for ourselves in Mozambique. Most of these initial clients had short projects that are already completed. But this particular client's project has dragged on, and on, and on.

The end result of this all is that we are working for free on a project that just creeps forward, trying to be disciplined enough to finish the business plan so that we might have a chance at a payday. It's especially hard to be dedicated to this project when we have other job opportunities out there with clients that will pay today.

I've given myself the next week to sit down and crank out as much of this banana business plan as possible, but God have I been procrastinating. I really must get it together and work. I feel a big obligation to this client, even if it is just to protect our reputation and deliver a finished project.

-------- ---- --------

In other news, I bought a bag of large pearl tapioca at the Indian grocery store last week. It looked really cool on the shelf, but now I'm at a loss as to what to do with it. All the recipes I've found online are either for bubble tea or involve instant tapioca. I'm interested in making a savory dish, although I'm open to a sweet pudding or something as well. Anyone have any suggestions? Monkey, Non Vocabulum - I'm really hoping one of you has some fabulous idea for what to do with this tapioca...

Friday, September 29, 2006

I've Got Mail!

I knew it was you!!

I just had a feeling in my gut that it was Telfair from Six Ten Pine that had sent me the mystery package from Australia. She retired from blogging at the same time she and her husband left Australia to move back to the States, but thankfully she's resurfaced over at Secondhand Gods.

Telfair is a brilliant, funny writer and a talented knitter to boot. In her package she sent me several balls of beautiful soft yarn, not to mention 2 boxes of Tazo Chai tea! I must admit I was surprised to see how my virtual friend had picked up on my favorite things.

As you can see I wasn't the only one excited about getting mail. Parceiro dutifully checked out the box and its contents, and after about 10 minutes of sniffing and pawing decided he was satisfied.

Pria, on the other hand, was not a pacifist like her brother. She hopped right in the middle of the package and started attacking a spool of fuzzy purple wool. I had to literally remove the yarn from her clenched jaws and scrabbling paws, as she managed to cling to it even as I lifted her out of the cardboard box.

I am so excited about using all this pretty yarn. Good thing my step-mom taught me how to crochet during my trip back home. I now know how to make about half of a really cool hair wrap headband thingy. I must e-mail her, though, to get an explanation for the remaining part of the pattern. Unfortunately I had to leave the country before I was able to finish my first attempt at a headband, so I now have 2 half-finished pieces lying around the house.

Telfair - thank you so much. You have no idea how this made my day. Heck, it made my year as far as care packages go. Please tell me how you sent this package - was it priority mail? Did it have a tracking number associated with it? I suspect that the reason my mom's package (and all of the other letters/postcards people have sent, for that matter) never arrived is because they weren't "important" enough. That is, they weren't associated with a tracking number that someone could theoretically trace and then lodge a complaint if the package/letter disappeared.

Whatever miracle allowed me to get mail, I am super grateful. Now if only I could manage to send things out of the country via regular post I would be completely satisfied...

Goddess of the Kitchen

Allow me to brag a bit here...

I am amazingly good at making up recipes. I know intuitively which ingredients combine well, how much of each spice to put in a dish, and how to replicate meals from my favorite restaurants. I am one of those people that looks at a seemingly empty cupboard and manages to prepare a semi-gourmet 3 course meal. I am a damn good cook and proud of it. Yeah!

The only problem is that since I make just about everything up and rarely use recipes, it's really difficult for me to replicate dishes or to teach anyone else how to cook. Increasingly I've been trying to keep track of the ingredients I use and write down approximate recipes in a handmade journal that Rico bought me in Malawi.

Today for lunch I invented a freakin' heavenly dish, it's like a green chile chicken enchilada but in the form of a meatloaf and without the tortillas. I had a bunch of ground chicken left over from making the boys their food, so I created this to use it up. It was beyond dee-lish. Here is a guesstimate at how to duplicate it, should you be so inclined:

Ali's Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Meatloaf

1 small onion, diced
1 big clove garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 pound ground chicken
4oz. (115g) diced Hatch green chile, canned or fresh
1 egg
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 crushed saltine crackers
2/3 cup cooked corn kernels, canned or fresh
1 tsp mexican seasoning or taco spice (vary according to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Sautee onion and garlic with brown sugar and a bit of olive oil until caramelized and golden.

In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, garlic, raw ground chicken, green chile, corn, saltine crackers, egg and spices. Mix well.

Add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, blend in with chicken mixture.

Put mixture in a greased loaf pan, cover with remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered at 190C for 50 minutes or until browned on the edges and meat is cooked thoroughly in the middle.

Serve and enjoy a taste of mi tierra.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


This morning I went out for about 30 minutes to go to the bank. When I returned to the flat, the guard handed me a piece of paper that had arrived in my absence. It was a very official-looking notice from the Correios de Moçambique (the post office) that I'd received a piece of mail!!!!

This is unprecedented, the first letter / package / postcard I've received in a year and a half of living in this country. I have no idea why this particular thing managed to reach me when all the others disappeared into the void of Mozambique's mail system (aka the customs officer's pocket).

The slip said the piece of mail is from Australia. I'm curious and so excited to find out what it is and who sent it. Now I just have to figure out what the next step is for me to actually be able to retrieve my piece of mail...

This occurrence renews my hope that it just may be possible for me to receive mail here in Maputo on a regular basis. I know this is wildly optimistic thinking, but perhaps it's worth another shot. Anyone inclined to help me test this hypothesis, feel free to send me a letter or postcard (but nothing of value, or that even looks marginally interesting from the outside).


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Sweet Boys

Last night as I was talking to my dad on Skype, he asked how the boys were doing.

"They're good," I said. "They've grown like weeds and are really happy that I'm home. You should see how affectionate they are. They're the sweetest little kittens."

"Just wait until they knock something over or get into the paper towels again," my dad said. "I want to see how sweet they are then!"

As if determined to fulfill my dad's premonition, this morning Pria took a big ol' stinky crap right in the middle of my bed, then had the courtesy to frisk and scratch the blankets with his/her hind legs to cover up the deed, the way good cats tend to do in a litter box.

Needless to say, it wasn't the way I'd hoped to start off my day. At least I came in the room in time to see Pria pawing at the blankets with a guilty look on his/her face. I shudder to think how this story might have ended up had I not realized there was a present buried under the layers of fleece and cotton just waiting to be discovered.

I am happy to report, however, that the consistency of Pria's act of defiance was semi-solid. Looks like the homemade cat food is doing the trick.

A Night on the Town in Burque

After a sweet time in California, I headed back to New Mexico for a few more days with my dad and step-mom. I was lucky enough to have my time back home span a weekend, and I was able to catch up with some old friends from my days in the MBA program at the University of New Mexico.

The girl with me in the photo below is my fabulous friend Marlene. She and I met during my last semester of school and quickly became close friends. She recently got married to her long-time boyfriend Paul, and the two of them are self-employed real estate agents. The fact that we both have our own businesses, work from home, and work alongside our significant others gives us a lot to talk about even though our realities are quite different at the moment.

I met up with Marlene, Paul and a big group of friends for dinner that Saturday at one of my favorite restaurants in Albuquerque - El Pinto. Mar and I shared a chicken burrito with plenty of green, and had a couple of margaritas to wash it all down. After dinner we decided it was definitely not time to end the night so we all headed to Zinc, a wine bar in the Nob Hill district of the city. I'd never been there before and was suprised to see that Burque actually has a slightly swanky bar where you can listen to live jazz, have a good cocktail and - best of all - mingle with people of all generations. I wish Zinc had been open when I was still living there...

Here I am appreciating the jazz and G&T's with Mar's twin sister Charlene and Mark, a good friend who was also in the MBA program with us. (And yes, ladies, he's single. And sweet!)

Once we'd had our fill of jazz, we decided to go downtown to a club for some dancing. It's been ages since the last time I had a great night out like this one. It was old school night at the place we went to, which meant that they were playing all sorts of hits from the late 80's and early 90's. We all had a sobering moment when we realized that "old school" now refers to our generation!

Below are Mark, Chloe, Char and Adam, nice and sweaty after busting their moves all night.

We danced until last call, then I decided to stay the night at Mar's so that I wouldn't have to drive the hour back to my dad's house at 2am. Nights like this one make me remember how much I love to get a little tipsy and WORK IT OUT on the dance floor. I really should do this more often...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Natureba, for those of you that don't speak brazilian portuguese, is what you call someone who is into organic foods, who may or may not be vegetarian/vegan, who has a preference for earth-friendly products, who supports local businesses, who loves the beach and the mountains and who is a bit of a hippie at heart.

Today I had a significant natureba moment. I was at the indian grocery down the street when I saw a glorious new product on the shelf: organic, non-GMO soy milk! (not that we've previously had non-organic, GMO soy milk or anything...) It was so exciting. I bought a big carton and had some with a banana and cereal this afternoon.

I bet Ricardo is reading this and silently going, "Oh, damn. Now I'm going to have to drink soy milk when I go back to Mozambique." All I have to say is that you shouldn't knock it before you try it, Rico. :)

Anyhow, my other big natureba moment has to do with the boys, Pria and Parceiro. I think I mentioned at one point before on the ol' blog that the kittens were having some health problems, specifically mysterious runny poo. I've come to believe that the boys' intestinal troubles are 100% the result of the crap that gets passed off as cat food. I mean, do you know what goes into cat and dog food? Think beaks and claws and the ground up bodies of other dead cats and dogs (I'm serious), and other nice things like ash and "filler". No wonder the boys have been ill - no animal deserves to eat that waste!

So how did I come to this conclusion about the food? Well, when the boys first came home with us they were eating Iams food that our friends gave us as an adoption gift. All was well in the poo department, despite the fact that these guys were abandoned in a dumpster at the start of their little lives. As soon as the Iams ran out, the boys got the runs (and some really monster gas, too). Given that only the lowest quality brands of pet food are available in Mozambique, I had no choice but to switch the boys to whatever kibble I could find in the indian shops in a particular week.

Then, as if by a miracle, Pria and Parciero started popping out solid poo while I was on my trip to the US. I was very grateful the kittens were well, but for the life of me couldn't figure out what had happened in my absence for them to recuperate so quickly (I was gone 3 weeks). And then it hit me. The entire time they were at my friend's house they were eating decent cat chow. I brought some back home with me to transition them over to the crap food again, and sure enough - as soon as the boys were back on the old chow the runnies came right back.

So what was my natureba solution in all of this? As of today, I am feeding the boys homemade cat chow! I got a recipe from a holistic vet online and it consists of the following:

700g ground muscle meat (don't mix meats from different animals)
300g ground organ meat (from the same animal as above)
2 eggs
250g ground vegetables (carrots, squash or pumpkin)
1 sheet clear gelatin
1 cup white rice
250ml hot water

Basically you cook it all up, the set it with the gelatin and hot water. Pria and Parceiro, who are normally very reluctant to eat their regular old cat chow, gobbled this stuff up as if they hadn't been fed all year. The result out the other end has yet to be confirmed, but I am hopeful it will be nice and solid.

I was feeling quite pleased with myself after the soy milk and the home made cat chow, so I decided to take some photos of my new favorite earrings. I made them on my last night in Albuquerque to coordinate with a carnelian and turquoise necklace I received as a graduation present a few years ago.

What started out as a simple photo of my ear turned into a full-fledged photo shoot! The light on the verandah was great, I was feeling pretty (you know those days where you just feel like you look good? aren't they lovely?), and also looking for a good excuse to procrastinate a bit from my suitcase unpacking. It all started out a bit practical and serious, and ended up with me laughing out loud at myself and my glamorous. In keeping with the natureba theme, I am without a spot of makeup. The results are below. Enjoy!

Ha ha. I crack myself up sometimes.

Monday, September 25, 2006

California (or, I can't think of a creative title)

This beautiful full moon over Mt. Diablo was our welcome to California. Ricardo took this photo off the deck of my mom's house just before we sat down to a fabulous scallop dinner. Earlier that afternoon Rico went through one of the essential experiences of getting to know American culture: Costco! We cruised around and bought this huge pack of scallops, some wild salmon, blueberries, strawberries, V-8 (I had a craving) and 3 bottles of local wine. I made a simple sauce for the scallops with white wine, butter, chicken stock and onions, my mom made asparagus and Thai red rice, and we sat down for a gourment, healthy meal. And boy did we need to detox on some healthy food after a week of enchiladas, tacos and sopapillas in New Mexico!

The next day we took BART to the Embarcadero and walked to the Ferry Building. There is a great view of the Bay Bridge and the water, and we braved the chilly weather for a few photos. Here I am with Ricardo, wearing my mom's Maui Jim sunglasses (that I liked so much she ended up getting me a pair as an early birthday gift).

And here I am with my sweet Momma Dog. I missed/miss her so much I start to cry just thinking about it. My mom is an amazing woman. She is beautiful, wise, strong and funny all at once. She gives great pep talks to my friends. She has a jewelry collection that I covet, and wears it all in style. She and I are so much alike, so close, that anytime we reach a small bump in our relationship it feels like the world is about to end. To me, at least.

Coming home is such a wonderful experience, but it can be really hard, too. I had a significant wave of culture shock when I got to the US, and I wasn't always the most mature person in the ways I chose to deal with it. My mom went out of her way to make sure that Ricardo and I had the best vacation possible, that everyone was happy and that things ran smoothly in the short time we had together. I got all hung up on the fact that I was once again in the land of schedules, appointments where you must arrive on time, concrete cities clogged with cars, a house where I am not the decision-maker and things are was pretty overwhelming at times and instead of just dealing with it, I'm afraid I made my mom feel bad, like I wasn't enjoying my trip.

We hashed it all out in the end, plus a lot of other stuff, but it still makes me feel bad. I hate the feeling that I've spoiled even a second of the precious time we have together. I know my mom feels the same way, and it's heartbreaking to realize that despite our fierce love for each other, we manage to fuck up sometimes. So it goes...

Anyhow...after the Ferry Building we walked down towards Pier 39. It was so bitterly cold, windy and foggy that we decided to take one of those bicycle-driven carriages. Our driver was a loon, but he got us to the sea lions much quicker than if we'd hoofed it. We had some coffee and fudge (yum!) to warm up, then sat and watched all the animals in front of the pier. Ricardo and I decided that the sea lions make noises uncannily simmilar to those made by hippos.

Unfortunately Rico had to leave the next morning to go back to Brasil. It was sad because I wish we'd had more time together, but he was going for a good reason: his mom's birthday on the 11th.

The same day Ricardo left, my friend Erin arrived from Austin. We met a few months after I moved to Austin in 2003 while waitressing at Carrabba's, an italian chain restaurant. Those were some tough months for me, but Erin became a great friend and helped me make it through to a better job and a better spot in my personal life. I had extra frequent flyer miles, so I decided to fly her out to Oakland for the weekend so we could catch up.

We met up with Jamie, another friend from my days in Austin, for some seafood appetizers and cocktails (including a champagne toast - we were really having a decadent evening). We ended up once again at the Ferry Building and took some great photos by the water as the sun went down and the city lights came on.

Here Jamie is dipping me to illustrate what her husband learned how to do in their pre-wedding dance classes. It was pretty impressive, especially considering we were balanced on a little wall and had just had said seafood, champagne and cocktails.

That weekend my aunt and uncle from Denver (the same ones Rico and I went to Botswana with back in June) flew in for a conference in San Francisco. We went to Chinatown for dim sum that Sunday and ate ourselves silly. Here we are (l. to r.): my aunt Michelle, my mom's husband Bob, me, my momma, and Unc (my mom's brother).

Here I am with Erin outside the dim sum restaurant, looking stylish and ready for a day of shopping in Chinatown.

I wish I'd had another 3 weeks to spend in California with my mom, but I have a feeling Rico and I will be back before long...who knows, maybe even to live for a while!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I Heart New Mexico

After our camping trip, Ricardo and I drove on the back road through the Jemez Caldera (the big bowl that is left from the explosion of one of the world's largest volcanoes way back when) to Santa Fe. We stayed for one night at a sweet little bed and breakfast just off the plaza and got a chance to recover a bit from the camping lifestyle of the previous night.

Rico had never seen anything like the City Different, and kept commenting that he felt as if he were in the wild west or on a movie set.

Everything about New Mexico - the architecture, the food, the art - is so normal to me that I sometimes forget what a trip it can be for someone who has never had a taste of this unique culture. I mean, where else are cow skulls and ristras staples in the home decorating realm?

If I had a dollar for every time Rico said something along the lines of, "This architecture is soooooo weird!" I'd be a rich woman after our trip to Santa Fe. Despite the strange-ness of it all, I think Rico really appreciated our experience.

Most of our time was spent wandering around the plaza and remarking how ridiculously expensive everything was! Ah, the perils of a tourist town... It was fun to watch everyone mill around, wearing cowboy boots and broom skirts and showing off their new southwestern jewelry purchases.

The best part of our trip was dinner on Saturday at a tapas bar I'd read a review about in the tourist magazine in our room. We were wanting a light, early meal and wandered in the restaurant around 6pm. After giving us a bit of attitude for not having reservations, the hostess showed us to the only 2 open seats in the house - at the bar, right in front of a stage where she informed us there would be a flamenco show an hour later!

We really lucked out, as our lowly bar stools turned out to be th best seats in the house. The music and dancing were very good, I got to scratch my Spanish itch by shouting out "Olé!" all night, and we had the most fabulous tapas imaginable. Ricardo tried scallops for the first time and was hooked, so much so that we had to make them again while in California.

The next morning we hit the road and made our way back to my dad's house via Albuquerque...

I took Rico up into the Sandia foothills and showed him the house my mom and I lived in for a few years while I was in middle / high school. The house is the one on the right in the photo above. We didn't used to have a neighbor when we lived there, but the view in the other direction is still spectacular.

You can see the entire city and beyond, all the way to the Jemez where we'd camped a few nights earlier. Moments like this I understand why I feel claustrophobic in cities where you have no view and can't see the horizon.

We also visited old town, the historical heart of Albuquerque. Here is the city's oldest church, San Felipe de Neri.

This is how Rico and I spent a good portion of our vacation: me driving (incredibly well given that I've not driven a "regular" car for 1.5 years) and Rico navigating and appreciating the scenery. Here he bravely held my camera out the window as we drove down I-25 to get a portrait.

Make a Wish

While camping with my Dad and step-mom on our second night in New Mexico, we stumbled across the most perfect valley full of aspens and Ponderosa pines. The valley was especially beautiful because this summer has been the wettest on record in New Mexico. There is green everywhere, from bushes and wildflowers in the usually brown foothills to the lush carpet of field grass that cropped up on the floor of the hidden valley. Truly a beautiful time for Ricardo to get to know my home state.

The valley was full of purple asters, mushrooms of every conceivable size and shape, small white daisies and dandelions - both the bright yellow blossoms and the puffballs of their seeds. I asked Ricardo if he knew what to do with a dandelion puff and he said no, that he'd never even seen one before. So we both picked a dandelion and I walked him through the make-a-wish ritual.

We carefully thought abour our wishes, then blew off all the dandelion seeds at the same time while my Dad caught the whole thing on the camera.

I was courteous and blew my seeds down wind, but Ricardo blew his dandelion directly into my face and down the front of my sweatshirt. I was reminded of those sycamore "itch bombs" that we used to crush and put down each other's pants and shirts in elementary and middle school in Albuquerque. Needless to say the rest of the hike was an itchy experience for me, but my wish did come true - the black clouds and thunder in the skies didn't materialize into a downpour before we were safe and dry under the super tarp my dad had rigged back at our campsite.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Hidden Valley

Before I left Maputo, my dad asked if there was anything in particular I'd like to do while in New Mexico. My answer was an easy one: camping!

My dad and I have a sweet tradition of going camping in the Jemez Mountains northwest of Albuquerque. In 1998 we discovered a perfect site that my dad later baptized "Camp Stinky" and have been going there pretty much yearly ever since. My dad is a camping maniac, though, and he goes at least once a month, weather permitting.

Anyhow, it's been a particularly rainy summer in New Mexico and as a result there have been all sorts of rockslides and roads washed out from all the water. The main road leading to Camp Stinky was closed, and even the hidden back route was too treacherous to risk in my dad's PT Cruiser that Ricardo and I had borrowed. So it was with heavy hearts that we decided to abandon our favorite campsite and settle for another location. Little did we know that our new spot, later christened The Hidden Valley, would be such a beautiful spot it now rivals Camp Stinky for the best site in the mountains.

Here is the spot Ricardo and I picked out for our tent after much deliberation. Rico had never been camping before and it was fun to be able to show him the ropes for once on something outdoorsy and sports-related.

After setting up camp we my dad, Laura (step-mom), Rico and I all went for a hike into this gorgeous valley not 200 meters from our tents.

Here we are posing in a clearing. You can get an idea of the size of this valley from the picture below of my dad and Laura walking.

It was nice and sunny for the first part of the hike, then some pretty ominous clouds rolled in and we could hear thunder rumbling in the not-so-far-off distance.

But like good old New Mexico, the weather was able to be sunny and stormy all at once. Isn't this Ponderosa pine beautiful? My favorite thing about these trees is that if you get up close and stick your nose in the nooks and crannies of the bark, the smell is exactly like vanilla extract! At least I think so. Rico said it was more like cigar smoke. Go figure.

Here I am with my dad. I'm sporting some nice under-eye circles and was suffering from a serious bout of allergies at the time. My dad looks positively radiant, though, beaming in the understated way that only he can manage.

In one direction the sky was completely black. In the other, lots of sunshine and puffy clouds. Turns out the storm won out in the end, but thankfully the torrential rain only started after we were back at camp and under a big tarp eating Reese's peanut butter cups.

After the rain we built a campfire (!) and had some green chile stew and tortillas. I can't remember the last time it was permitted to build a fire in New Mexico because of the string of droughts over the last 8 or 9 years. But this year, thanks to the rain, we were able to show Ricardo the full camping experience. The only thing missing were s'mores, but I suppose we can do that next time.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

In Africa Again

I'm in Joburg right now, the tail end of what has been a trip full of hassles. Air France managed to lose my luggage again (!), but thankfully they were able to locate my bags before I left Paris. The agent there assured me that my bags were checked all the way to Maputo, but of course it wasn't that easy. I had to collect my luggage here in Joburg and redo my check-in, only to be slapped with a US $60 overweight charge thanks to Air France's inability to check my bag to my final destination. I hassled with their customer service people for a while before realizing it was a futile attempt on my part. When I was informed that there was no manager available for me to speak with, I just picked up my backpack and went into the women's room for a good cry. Sometimes that's the only thing that will truly relieve my stress and exhaustion, just sob it all out and start over.

All things considered, if US $60 is the price to ensure that my bags arrive in Maputo on time and that nobody pilfers my precious things during the layover in Joburg, I suppose it's well worth the frustration.

My next (and final) plan leaves in about an hour. Then I get to go home, somehow manage to get all of my luggage up 3 flights of stairs, hope that we still have energy credit in our meter so that I can take a hot shower, then go pick up the kittens around 7pm. The thought of cuddling at home with the boys is what is enabling me to make it through this last bit of what's been a totally overwhelming trip.

Highlight of it all: meeting Paris Parfait for dinner and a walking tour of her neighborhood during my super-long layover. It was wonderful and I can't wait to share more. I've just realized, however, that we failed to take a picture together. Ah, well - just a good excuse to do it again!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Leaving Home to Go Home

Yesterday I was standing in line at a coffee shop in downtown Albuquerque, waiting to order some mint tea with my friend Tomas, and totally started to cry as I looked over the muffins and scones on the counter. I don't want to go "home" yet, don't want to endure the 36-hour trip back to Africa, don't want to finish packing my gigantic suitcases, don't want to have to say goodbye to my family.

I'm even a bit teary right now. I always cry when I leave my mom, and did so in grand fashion before my flight from Oakland to Albuquerque last week. But I can't say I've ever sobbed before leaving my dad, at least not that I can remember. Not that I don't miss him just as much, I'm just generally better at holding it together around him. There was something about this trip, though, that I feel will break the tear-free pattern. I've felt so comfortable here, so loved and appreciated, I honestly don't want to leave.

On the positive side, I will be meeting Elite and Paris Parfait for a late lunch and city tour in Paris during my 9-hour layover there tomorrow. Of course I am looking forward to seeing our kittens, who I'm certain have had tremendous fun with their caretakers while I've been away!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A (Relatively) Technology Free Vacation

This is the longest I've spent without my computer or cell phone since I can remember. It's been wonderful, but being without my connection to the world has made me feel somewhat lost and behind on everything at the same time.

We've just arrived at my mom's house in California and have, for the first time in a week, a high speed internet connection and a laptop to borrow. I am taking advantage to update here before spending yet another glorious day outside and doing something other than type and surf the net.

Ricardo and I had a great time in New Mexico with my dad and his family last week. We spent a beautiful night camping, hung out in Santa Fe and stayed at a bed and breakfast, drove in the Sandia mountains and checked out the house where I used to live, had a Labor Day barbecue at my Dad's house in the country, and ate as much New Mexican food as is humanly possible in one week. Ricardo learned the hard way that jalapeno peppers are not meant to be eaten whole, although he did also figure out that green chile, when ingested in controlled portions, is truly the food of the Gods.

We have many pictures but as I'm having a break from technology I will only get around to downloading and posting them later this month when I'm back in Mozambique.

We flew early this morning from Albuquerque to Oakland and have been enjoying the warm sun since arriving. My mom made us a healthy breakfast (to balance out all those enchiladas and sopapillas from last week), and Ricardo and I picked figs off the tree in their backyard to have along with our cottage cheese and eggs.

I've been reunited with my cat Azul, who for the time being doesn't seem to recognize me. Perhaps she does, though, and this silent treatment is just her way of letting me know exactly what she thinks about having been left in a house full of lowly dogs. My mom and her husband have 2 huge Australian Shepards who Azul has learned how to deal with quite well considering that the last time she saw a dog she bit me and drew blood. My mom has been taking really good care of the cat in my absence and Azul basically has free reign in this house, including a cat door that leads to the deck.

In addition to the cat and the 2 dogs, there is a new animal resident at my mom's urban California house: a rooster! A small Japanese Bantam has installed itself next to the garage and struts around eating cracked corn and reject produce from my mom's kitchen. He's beautiful, his little feet are completely covered in big showy feathers.

Well...we are getting ready to go to Costco to buy food, then I have an eye appointment so I must finish my tea and find my purse.

I hope you are all doing great!!! Tell me what you have been up to in my total absence from the blog world.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ali made it to ABQ!

Ali asked me to tell everyone she and Ricardo made it to Albuquerque. Rico's trip was eventless. No problems with immigration. Ali, instead, arrived in Houston to find her luggage never left Paris. How she will solve this one remains to be seen in today's terrorism-driven luggage handling.

Right now Ali is camping with her Dad and family. No internet. No instrusions. I hope it is a stress-buster for her and that little hands work while she is gone to bring her luggage back. Ali deserves nothing less.

Continue to write everyone! I love reading what you have to say.

Ali's Mom