Monday, September 18, 2006

Why no posts since Thursday ? Because on Friday morning I got a phone call.
“Hi Beth, This is Tess. How are you?”
“Hi. Fine. You?” I couldn’t talk in complete sentences, as I was thinking too hard. My mind raced: Is she calling from Sweden? No, the connection is too clear. Sounds like she’s in Ouaga, but that’s IMPOSSIBLE. Her last email said she wouldn't be here until October…...
“I’m fine. How’s the soap? Can I pick it up?
The soap. The SOAP!?! In July, Tess had ordered 400 bars of handmade shea butter soap in a custom recycled paper wrap from Papiers du Sahel (the women’s group I work with). The delivery date was supposed to be the 1st of September. But in late August, Tess had sent an email from Sweden saying that she’d be picking up the order in early October.
“The soap is ready, Tess” (Thank GOD!) “But it’s not wrapped. Your email said October 11 and we had some orders to get ready for the USA …..”
“Oh, no! I’m sure I said September”
“Well, you wrote October in the email you sent me. I thought you'd had a change of plans.”
She was sorry, she had made a mistake- but the fact remained that she needed that soap wrapped, beaded and tagged by Monday. She would be driving her truck up to her hotel in Agadez, Niger (It is gorgeous! Have a look here and here)and the soap, plus the 50 boxes for shower caps needed to be ready to roll.
Tess is a nice lady and a good customer, so I assured her we’d figure something out.
I rushed over to the project. (The project phone is broken, so I couldn’t just call).
Eugenie (the project president) and I cautiously opened the metal chest that had been holding the drying soap for the last two months. The mice hadn’t gotten at it, by some miracle. The women started wrapping, a couple went off on bikes to buy cotton string to tie on the tags. I rushed home to design and print up 400 soap tags. Then I rushed back to help wrap.
By Saturday night, all 400 were done. But not the 50 boxes. That night, Tess called with the news that she’d be leaving on Wednesday, not Monday. Joy!
I went to the project this morning, expecting to se at least a few finished boxes ready. Nope. We hadn’t made any since last January and the women had completely forgotten how. Isabelle had unfolded one and was trying to figure it out, not having much luck. Fortunately, I vaguely remembered the technique and we got into gear. When I left the project at noon today, half the boxes were finished.
So, the whole order will definitely be done by Wednesday morning.
And what did I do over the weekend when I wasn’t wrapping, printing and folding?
I made a My Little Pony birthday cake and got PAID! Yes! I will not post a photo, as its bright pink and blue splendour would doubtless blind you, my reading public (or perhaps make you want to claw your eyes out, depending on your level of kitsch tolerance.)
I took the twins for a riding lesson at the Oasis du Cheval, one of our three riding clubs here in Ouaga. I will doubtless do a whole post about the place, one of these days.
I went to a VERY boring school bus cooperative meeting. JP wouldn’t go, the coward. There were about 18 of us there. “Do you want some water?” the hostess politely asked. “No. No thank you.” I answered. With the silent subtext “Start the meeting NOW! I want to leave! I do not need snacks. Really.”) Unfortunately, everybody else said “Yes”, god help us. They don’t have water at HOME, these people? How long are they planning on BEING here???? They sent the hostess scrambling for bottles of mineral water and 18 glasses. 15 minutes. I timed it. Then, once we were into the meeting, were repeatedly stalled by one concerned mom that wanted to know why the bus couldn’t stop in front of her house. “It rains, sometimes”, she said. It was politely pointed out to her that it rains on ALL the children, but the bus cannot possibly stop at all the houses. I thought about cluing her in to that great modern invention, the UMBRELLA, but I just wanted it all to be OVER.
That night, I went to see “The DaVinci Code”. How could you make a trashy thriller about the Holy Grail into a boring movie? That seems impossible, yet Ron Howard managed. The presence of Tom Hanks was a constant distraction. Why doesn’t he wash his hair? Cut it? Am I really supposed to believe he is a university professor/genius-level puzzle-solver kind of guy? Could there be any less attraction between him and our heroine, Audrey Tatou? She’s so cute, in that deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, and yet you’d get more chemistry out of two teaspoons of baking soda in a glass of water.
And that’s basically it for the weekend. Just throw in a swim at the Rec Center, a reorganization of the kids’ toys, browbeating Severin into practising his piano lesson….Extremely busy and very boring.

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