Sunday, 9 December 2012


What's a Blozzle? It is a Blog, puzzle. I was sitting wondering how I could piece all the different bits and bobs I've got to Blog together, when it occured to me that it was like a jigsaw puzzle. So it has become a Blozzle. And I'll leave it you to put together.

Burundian Drummers at the Market - very loud!
Christmas Shopping in 26 degrees! It's very unusual for me to do any Christmas shopping at all. I can almost hear my youngest son, yelling in agreement. So you can imagine my sense of confusion, when I found myself Christmas shopping at the East African Market. The sun blazing, surrounded by dazzling colours and people of all nationalities. I find the African 'salesman/woman' quite a challenge to deal with. Being a very reluctant shopper, who in England chooses shops by my ability to remain annonymous but not over-crowded. Certainly never knowingly enter a shop where an assistant is likely to come up and say, 'can I help you madam?' My first trip to the market ended with zero purchases, as the pressure was all too much. And my brain shut down. I did however come away with a 'free gift' of pink soap-stone hippo. From a very astute sales woman, who spotted the potential weakness in me and realised that my claim to be returning at the weekend would be so much more likely if I felt obliged to her.
So three visits later, I have 5 pink hippos and an assortment of goods from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Zanzibar. One suitcase full and ready to go home for Christmas. I also have two pairs of leather flip flops, that I really didn't want, but got bamboozled by a very persistent Kenyan saleswoman! Should be good for cockroach swatting at least!

Dot - not sure that is how it is spelt, but that is how it is said by most. Dot. It is the pre-wedding dowry party. Happens the night before the wedding day and is the ceremonial agreeing of the dowry between the bride and groom's families. All the staff of King's School (Primary) were asked to go along to serve drinks and be part of the 'brides' party. This meant putting on a traditional costume, an invatanu. The children all find it highly amusing when a muzungu wears African dress. My appearance in my invatanu caused roaring laughter with the children who come for after school lessons to our house. They all assured me it wasn't because I looked ridiculous, it was just very funny!! Hmmm...... perhaps you can read my mind from the photograph?
I don't have a photo of me standing at the front of the bridal party, almost next to the bride! facing around a hundred Burundians. Trying desperately to follow the rhythm and words (Kirundi) of the songs we were singing to escort the bride into the Dot. I strongly suspect that I had my 'rabbit-in-headlights' face on.

Wildlife - I have a butterfly photo to add to my collection. A large grasshopper. A large caterpillar. I would have a live Chamelion. However, Mary my Kenyan housemate saw one in our own garden and decided not to tell me because she thought I might pick it up and bring it in the house. It appears that on the whole, Africans are terrified of chamelions. I have now promised that all I want to do is look and photograph. No touching. No befriending. No pets. So she has promised to tell me if she sees it again! I am also trying to persuade her that chamelions are not in fact deadly creatures, but she is not yet entirely convinced that I am telling the truth.

Sorry no large caterpillar, it wont download!

Family - as I have said before  the hardest part of being in Burundi has been leaving my family behind. It has meant missing out on a number of significant events. The most recent has been, my second son JohnAlex performing at the British Military Tournament at Earls Court. When the children were young a very good friend used to take us to see the Royal Tournament (as it was then) every year. It seems amazing to me that now years later, JohnAlex is there performing in it. So as an extremely proud mum I want to put a photo in of him and say I might not have been there in person, but it doesn't make me any less proud of him and his family. He's the one at the front, with the clubs. Very  kind of them to put him at the front for me. Do you think he said, 'please can I go at the front? My mum's in Africa and she wont be able to see otherwise.' Maybe not!

I could add Cabbage and cold showers to my Blozzle. But I have been trying so hard not to moan about such trifling things. I have been into the centre of Bujumbura a number of times lately, where there are so many people living in such extreme poverty. It seems so inappropriate for me to be unhappy about the food that is put on the table for me and the temperature of the water that comes out of the shower. I have in fact had a cold shower 4 days in a row. And peas are now coming a close second to being my least favourite vegetable in the whole wide world. Peas, swimming in a tomatoey, soupy liquid. But every time I'm tempted to feel sorry myself, I wonder how I would feel if there was nothing on offer!

On Thursday last week, I left the house in pouring rain, and heard footsteps behind me. I turned and there was a little boy of 5 or 6 walking barefoot in the rain. He had dirty rags for clothes and was soaked to the skin. He looked up at me and my heart melted.  I stretched out the umbrella and beckoned him to walk with me. We walked along in silence, as he looked too cold to talk and as usual I forgot all the Kirundi words I know. When we got close to the little shop on our road, I asked (mainly through sign language) him if he was hungry. Bit of a pointless question I know, it was pretty obvious what the answer would be. So I went in and bought him a bag of Burundian doughnuts. I know, not the most nutritious if you are starving. But all I could see that no one esle would steal off him. He had waited outside, I'm sure desperately hoping that I was going to come out with something for him. I gave him the bag of doughnuts and walked on to school.
Who am I to moan about cabbage for lunch more than once a week?

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