From a few days ago...I know better than to post that my husband was going to be out of town for a week and a half, so I'm posting this during his last leg of his journey home. This is what I was thinking as he left.
Just saw my husband off, he is driving to Dulles International Airport as I type. The past few weeks have been humorous in a few ways, exhausting in others. He is headed for Tanzania,
Dar-es-Salaam to be exact. He was offered the opportunity to go through work. It does not directly relate to his current job, but he has the expertise that they were seeking, so he was allowed to go. The FAO of the UN is footing the bill, so when he told me about it I told him to do it!! When else will he have a chance to go to Africa all expenses paid?? He asked many questions, my daughter and I asked many questions, we know now that there is no ebola in the area at all. He was apprehensive. I assured him that we would be fine at home, after all, we survived his doctorate. He then took a look at all of the immunizations he would need, the side effects and the malaria risks. Somehow he got through it all and agreed to go.
We then spent some time reading up on Tanzania, the customs, religions, weather, economy, etc. The most difficult thing of it all is that folks tend to dress up a bit more for work, so we needed to get him a couple of suits that fit, and could be worn in a tropical zone. Also, it is customary to cover up all skin except the face and hands, so he would need extra long sleeved dress shirts.
We decided to go to a humongous thrift shop (about the size of an average Kmart) and then get them altered to fit. I know now it probably be cheaper just to buy cheap suits, but now he has a silk suit and a very light weight wool suit that are of much higher quality than the buy two and get one free variety. All three of us went through a huge rack of unsorted suits and sport coats, reading the inside pocket labels one after the other, then headed to the fitting room. After an hour and a half or so, we found a couple that fit well enough and headed to the registers, noticing that the lines seemed a little long. The cashiers were just standing behind the counters straightening the bags, wiping the counters, twirling their hair around their fingers, but not ringing up customers. The whole computer system for the store was down, the manager would appear periodically, tap a few things into the computers, sigh and run back into the offices.
The lines grew. People started sitting on the floor. Children began to whine or roughhouse, only to be reprimanded (mostly). My daughter had chosen some books from the racks, so she spent much of the time off in another land, unseeing and unsmelling of the jumble and musty scent of the thrift store. After forty-five minutes, we looked at each other, trying to figure out what to do. The three of us collectively invested four and a half hours, plus waiting in line, into the suits. We didn't want to put them back and we didn't want to wait any longer for the IT department to figure out the problem. Eventually, I pulled out my business cards, asked the clerk to bag the suits up and hold them until we returned from lunch. We stapled the cards to the bags and headed to a little Salvadoran place around the corner for pupusas and liquados (unfortunately the pineapple for the liquados was not quite ripe enough, so they weren't very good). We took our time, we had to, my food came with cheese despite the fact that I stated that I could not have cheese in Spanish and in English. The food came slowly, which was fine, we didn't want to return to the store before the problem was fixed.
An hour and a half later, we returned to the store. My husband went in alone, we had had enough of the shopping trip. His transaction was processed using a pocket calculator grabbed from the shelves in the first aisle between the curling irons and bread machine. The money did leave our checking account about three days later, so I guess they figured it out.
Locating the dress shirts to go under the suits was another challenge, my husband has arms to match his height. I spent a good part of a day looking for shirts with 36-37 sleeves in our close to DC but somehow remote county. I found them and even had a choice of color in the end an hour's drive and giant bridge cross away.
Last night he squeezed all of the first world odds and ends I gathered as recommended by blogs of folks who had been there before like band aids and DEET 100 insect repellent, along with his suits and dress shirts into his just-makes-the-size-limit, brown (easier to find amongst all the black ones) suitcase. Early this afternoon, he loaded them into the car, and headed out on his adventure. Maybe next time I can go.