Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Great Coke Zero Shortage of 2012

I have my guilty pleasures in life.  I'll own it.

One of them is Coke Zero.

I know it is not good for me.  I know there is no nutritional value whatsoever.  I know it's bad for my teeth, and we get delicious and clean water delivered.  I know all this.

But I love my Coke Zero irrationally and without any sign of abating.  There are some things that aren't worth fighting.

Oh Coke Zero!  You make the worst days seem not so bad...

There is a problem now, though.  We used to be able to order Coke Zero anywhere.  At Nando's, at Galitos, at the various local restaurants (such delicious Indian food - who knew I would find such wonderful curried delicacies in Africa?).  I could get it at the supermarket and at the small stores - bottle or can, Coke Zero was everywhere. 

It was a beautiful time. 

All good things come to an end, however, and my dalliance with Coke Zero was no exception.  We've been able to find it in glass bottles in a few places, and sometimes the cans are available at one grocery store or another.  But lately the pickings have been sparse and far between.   It has been a bit of a let-down to indulge in a Peri Peri wrap at Nando's and wash it down with water.

Spoiled, I know.  But it was the experience of the whole thing, and that experience included Coke Zero. 

It makes me a little nervous.  I know there is no Coke Zero shortage in the United States - actually, I usually go with Coke Zero Cherry there, which I refer to as Coke All the Things! - and I'm fairly sure Coke is not in any imminent danger.  But then, I didn't see the death of Hostess coming, so my business sense might be off-kilter.  I'm not sure when I'll recover from that one.  I would have stockpiled if I had known it was coming.

Which leads me to the African shopping (for food) experience.  

I currently have 8 packets of Butter Chicken sauce in my pantry, six packets of mushroom sauce, several gallon sized bags of Splenda packets, and nine different types of noodles (just a sampling).  In the United States we call people with these sorts of numbers hoarders and humiliate them on national TV before sending them to treatment programs.  Here, it is a necessary survival mechanism.

For instance, last week the husband and I were at the store getting the necessary items for dinner when I spotted the packets of mushroom sauce.  

Me:  WHEN DID THEY GET THESE?  HOW MANY ARE THERE?Husband:  SixMe:  Take them all!  Quickly!  Before someone else sees we are interested in them!

The husband quickly grabbed the packets just as another woman was swooping down upon us, sharp eyes spotting the sauce from the other end of the aisle.  I was familiar with her glare - I've given that look many a time myself when someone else has snagged the last bottle of teriyaki from under my nose.  It's the look of a practiced Third World shopper - someone who knows that, unlike a US Safeway, that may be the only cornstarch that ships in for six months.  You have to act now and act fast if you plan on making any pie.

It took me one week of living here to go full-shopping-commando.  One week.  

This means that trips to the grocery store are never for one item.  You never buy only milk or yogurt - excuse me, yoghurt.  And anyone who runs in and out of the store without perusing every aisle is crazy.  You might miss the pretzel sticks!  

Don't get me wrong - there is plenty of food here.  A person is not going to starve - there is always some sort of fruit and/or vegetable, always meat, always mayo, always mealie meal, always flour, etc.  It's the specialty items that cycle in and out, seemingly on whim.  And the prices of some of the things we take for granted in the US - like Crisco and Spaghettios - are astronomical.  

Did I mention tuna?  Dolphin safe tuna in cans that aren't expired can get pricey as well.  One of the local stores had a special on tuna that saw me battling it out with another lady for the last four cans.  The Hunger Games had nothing on the scene that unfolded in Game that day.   

You develop an entirely different attitude living here when it comes to shopping and food preparation, even children's clothing!  And I can't say that it's affected us in a bad way.  

One thing I appreciate about my children, about the people we meet living here who are originally from the US and Europe, is that there is a sense of absolute appreciation for how easy things are back home. It took coming to live here for my kids to understand you can't always solve things with a trip to the grocery store.  

Unfortunately, it also means that every trip back to the US involves about four hours staring at the many varieties of salsa in Target.  

Whatever.  Six months ago I would have thought that hunting for Coke Zero and buying ten packages of Bolognese sauce would be the end of the world.  Now I see finding and bringing home the last six packages as a form of victory.  It's the new version of completing a successful hunt.  I launch myself out of our car and dash into the house, purchases held high and bearing the scars of battle, shouting, "TONIGHT WE WILL HAVE LINGUINI ALFREDO!" And the children greet me like a conquering hero.  

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Sketchy Roads, Sleeping Technicians, and an Ode to Twinkies

It's kind of hard to update a blog when your internet is not working.  And this, in the last three weeks, is the predicament we found ourselves in.

One of the biggest problems here is customer service - as in, there is none.  So when we notified our internet provider (which I won't name directly, but happens to rhyme with the phrase "Shmem-Tee-Mem") that our internet was cutting out and making it not only impossible to download anything but nearly impossible to even check or reply to email, they said they'd fix it right away.

Three weeks later, it was still broken.

It seems to be mostly fixed now, although the internet is still "flickering", as I call it.  But the icing on the cake was when the technician came to our house to reinstall the equipment they claimed was faulty and fell asleep in my husband's chair at his desk.

I just wasn't sure how to respond to that, other than to wake him up and tell him it wasn't acceptable.  And that was how a five minute job turned into a 45 minute job.  Well, three weeks and forty-five minutes.

I've also turned into quite the daredevil driver lately.  There's really no way to remain timid here and get wherever you need to go.  You must force your way into lanes, hold out your hand and hope someone slows down as you dart into the oncoming traffic.

They don't always slow down, in which case it becomes a game of Chicken - who will blink first.  In order to win this game of chicken, you must have a larger car, a pointing finger that you shake at someone, and a stern expression.  In addition, you must choose your opponents very carefully - it would never do to try and dart in front of someone important; they will run you over, get of their car, pull you out, and proceed to teach you the lessons your mother should have beaten into your head before you hit adulthood.  It's just not polite to challenge someone more important.

I should also mention that there are traffic lights here - most of them just don't work.  And apparently it is acceptable to run a red light if no one is coming.  At least, I see it several times a day.

In addition to low speed Chicken (you will never get above forty miles an hour here, and that's hauling serious ass), you have to figure your way around and be willing to drive in some sketchy places if you run into an accident.  It could take hours to clear, and you don't want to be stuck on Alick Nkhata Road for hours.

A traffic accident is how we ended up on this road one day.

As you can see, there is enough room for our truck and about three inches on either side.  Had another car decided to turn down this road (which wasn't a one way), we would have been in quite a pickle.  Had someone decided to walk down this road, we would have had to do some quick thinking.  

Luckily neither of those things happened, and one very helpful local offered to run to the end of the street and wave off any possible oncoming traffic for us, for which we tipped him several pin.  He waved quite exuberantly when we turned and drove off.  

Another fun game we like to play is Identify the T-Shirt.  Usually this consists of seeing college t-shirts or sweatshirts and matching them up to whichever friend we have that attended that college back home.  So far we've matched Auburn, A&M, George Mason, Michigan, Nebraska, and Notre Dame.  We've seen several colleges we haven't matched as well, Dartmouth being the top of the list and including (but not lastly) University of Maryland University College.  

But the best shirt we've seen so far (other than the guy wearing the Little Mermaid shirt) was the one from a dental clinic in Webster, Texas.  

Why is this so awesome, you ask?  Because we've been there.  And it makes me giggle to encounter Webster, Texas in Africa. 

I'll close with this thought - Twinkies.  

When I'm here, there are things I miss about the US that leave me daydreaming about a return visit, and Twinkies are pretty high on that list.  It comes down to a dead-draw between Twinkies and Zingers, and the winner fluctuates.  

So with the news that Hostess has gone under and my next trip back to the US won't involve the guilty pleasure of hiding away in my hotel room with a plate of nachos, a box of Twinkies, and trashy reality TV (I may have a problem that requires some sort of 12 Step program), I'm wondering if it is even worth it to take time for that visit.  Out of a sense of sanity self-preservation, I learned to make Twinkies from scratch here, and they are good.  Very good.  Actually, I think the filling I use is light years better.

And it is good for my waistline to have to make Twinkies anytime I want to eat Twinkies.  There are no midnight sneaks down to the pantry while everyone is asleep and when calories don't count (or so I tell myself).  

But still.  It is the end of an era, indeed.  And the generic Swiss Roll version of Ho Hos just doesn't float my boat.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

In Which We Go to the Bank and the Rains Fall

Every month when we pay our housekeeper, her preference is for us to deposit her pay directly into her bank account rather than handing over a stack of money for her to carry home via minibus.  She's just not comfortable hauling around that much cash on her person, and doesn't want to be a tempting target for thieves.

I get that.

So I must include among my daily adult activities (1) VISIT TO THE BANK.

Visiting the bank in Africa is nothing like stopping in at the bank in the US.  Absolutely nothing.  I used to complain at lines at Bank of America - but I was always in and out within twenty minutes.  Oh how quick-paced our lives seem now!  After five minutes I'd be tapping my feet.  Within ten I'd be asking the people sitting behind desks in various portions of the bank (and whose jobs are never immediately obvious) if there was anyone who could help the tellers out, because SOME OF US have places to go.  Things to do.  Panera French Onion Soup in a breadbowl to eat.

Oh Panera, how I miss you.  

Anyway, there's no Panera here.  So I can scratch that off my list.  And with the loss of Panera visits, it is assumed I don't need to get in and out of the bank within twenty minutes, either.  What else could I possibly have to do?

The answer is nothing.  Because I know what the situation is and made the bank the only thing on my afternoon list.

My housekeeper has her account at Standard Chartered Bank, a South African institution that has been described as "simply the best." It has also been accused of laundering money for Iran.    None of this is really that important to me, however.  I just want to find a place that reliably has couscous and tahini in stock and enough time to get there before the store closes.

As I have said, what is important to me at this moment is time.  And Standard Chartered has a pledge to its customers about that:


We walked into the bank just after lunch and balked when we saw the line of people stretched all the way across the room.  The line appeared deceptively shorter than it was in reality, because several people - sick of waiting - had told the person behind them that they were not leaving the line but merely sitting down until their turns came up.

There were two tellers working and four people walking around behind the desks.  Eventually, after we had been in line forty minutes, another teller opened up.  

It would be frustrating except that such a situation is pretty much par for the course here.  

And also, there's no French Onion soup - so what do I really have to look forward to anyway?  

I would have like to find out about that whole donation to charity thing - like, how do I know they're giving a dollar for making me stand in line for an hour?  What about the nine people ahead of me and the six behind me?  Not a mention was made to us of the purported donations our time in line supposedly earned.  

But today was not a total loss!  For one, we had a braai.  Those always make me very happy.  And our housekeeper made us two days worth of nshima, which meant my kids were healthily full rather than cranky and snacking on chips... errrr, crisps.  She really does love it when they run in and shriek, "Nshima!  YAY!"

And today as we were leaving to pick the kids up from school the skies opened up and vomited forth water with some impressive fireworks to boot.  I texted a local friend of mine, "Is this how the rainy season starts?"  

She replied, "Oh girl, it is on now!"  

So I think that humidity frizzed hair season is now here to stay.  

Thursday, 4 October 2012

More Compound Shopping

I have returned safely from my trip to the States, and despite the lack of fettucine alfredo with blackened shrimp here (that was four or five meals while I was gone, and I loved each and every one), I was glad to get back.

My days back in Africa have been quite interesting, to say the least.  There was the cold I came down with from 24 hours of recirculated air in flight time (not counting the layovers).  Sinus infections are lovely, aren't they?  Then there was the crazy man who rushed our car the day after I returned.  I've taken to driving with my dog in the back, and as soon as she started her, "I'm crazier than my 35 pound body looks!" routine, Mr. Crazy backed right away.

This particular gentleman is well known around two local intersections, and mine is not the first car he has rushed.  And when I say crazy, I mean that he is genuinely mentally ill.  Very sad, but also potentially quite scary.

Today I went to buy more furniture at my favorite furniture store - Supa Furniture.

I had a picture from the internet of what I wanted, and I knew I wanted it in mukwa.  After about forty-five minutes of much gesticulation and discussion in Nyanja, a price was quoted to me.

My eyebrows shot up, and a general laugh was had by the seven people crowded into the small cement block room used as an office/storeroom/hangout.  Incidentally, I think there were two people there who were actually involved in the furniture process - everyone else was just kind of...  there.  And everyone there was a part of the discussion, too, which makes for a rather raucous negotiation.

I was able to talk the proprietor down a little, but he waxed on quit eloquently about the price of the wood and the cost of labor.  Finally I said, "I know you're quoting me the Mzungu price, and that's okay.  But I don't want to pay THAT MUCH Mzungu price."

Once again the room erupted in laughter, and the price was brought down further to something I was quite happy to pay.

And they promised delivery.

All-in-all, a productive way to spend an hour.  And no crazy people rushing my car, either.

And finally - I missed nshima.  This is the national food here, everyone eats it.  A lot of Zambians will say they just don't feel full if they haven't had nshima.

Our housekeeper started making nshima several afternoons a week for my very physically active children, and it's been a minor food miracle.  She's an excellent cook, as far as this goes, and there are rarely leftovers.  The kids never complain about being hungry before dinner, and it's so much healthier than the snacks they usually reach for, while also being far more filling than an apple or some fruit.  I mean, celery with peanut butter is great (if you can find celery), but kids who are very physically active need more oomph in their diet.  Nshima works great for that.

I'm going to have to learn how to make it before we go back home!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

And They Call the Thing Rodeo

There hasn't been a ton of Africa blogging lately because, well, I haven't been in Africa.  I'm going back, of course.  But right now I'm in the US taking care of some business.

Also, attending a Mexican rodeo*.

I grew up in Central and Southern California, so to me things like tortillas and tamales are as American as apple pie.  In fact, tortillas are the number one thing I miss in Africa.  I have to make Texas tortillas (myself instead of asking the lady who sells tamales door to door to bring some with her next time), which are kind of puffy and more like na'an bread.  But I miss the silky smoothness of a real tortilla made with shortening.   Not to mention enchiladas, which I can't make with Texas tortillas.

I did find shortening in the Melissa market, but it cost the equivalent of US $20.  The shock and horror of seeing Crisco more expensive than a gallon of gas nearly caused a cardiac arrest - which is the height of irony when you think about it.  I mean, yes, shortening is supposed to cause heart issues.  But not that way.    

Anyway, being raised in any Latino-heavy area makes you very comfortable with the culture.  It's not just a food thing, either.  I long ago stopped having to translate in my head when someone speaks to me in Spanglish.  When you hear George Lopez's routine about a generation of white kids raised with brown hearts, he was talking about me and my siblings.

 I have so missed the Latino culture.  I miss the food, for sure.  I miss the music - the awesome velvet jackets (in 80 degree heat) with extensive embroidery and the upbeat always perk me up.  I miss the parties, too.  Wow - those get loud.  And fun.  And loud.

We got to the rodeo as the cowboys were being introduced, and I immediately knew I had come home.   The bull riders filed into the ring and a slew of rapid Spanish came through the speakers, with hatted and chapped cowboys stepping forward to applause at the end of each phrase.  My favorite is always when the bilingual announcer fires off the introduction in Spanish and then switches to a perfect California-American accent for the name, "Colby Jones!"  or whatever it happens to be.  

To further add to my delight, the announced proved to be one of those fully engaged speakers who used his hands in huge gestures and would go from baritone to falsetto in his storytelling as voices were required.  

A quick glance around and we saw a sign warning of the dangers of being a cowboy.  You could sustain serious injury and even loss of life, this sign informed everyone (but only in English).  There were quite a few injuries on display attesting to the truth the sign was expounding.

In fact, we also saw a bull rider get stomped on when he was thrown from his bull, so the danger is never far away. 

We hadn't originally planned to attend a rodeo - in fact, we were at a Barnes and Noble getting travel books for Spain and France when the call came about the rodeo being held that day.  Without time to go home and change, I ended up attending the dusty, poopy, muddy event at an outdoor venue dressed in a black skirt, polka dot top, and polka dot Kate Spade bag.  

Had it been any other rodeo, I would have missed it rather than show up in anything but my jeans and boots with a huge belt buckle.  

But this was a Mexican rodeo*, and let me tell you, I fit right in.   In fact, compared to some of the ladies (not the ones in the booty shorts), I was completely underdressed.

Have I mentioned the clowns?  Always a highlight.  Especially when the pain-in-the-ass bull wanted to be petted after the event.  The clown obliged.  Of course.  

Being a rodeo clown is a dangerous job.  They're good at making us laugh while they distract the bulls from the thrown riders, but every so often when you see one getting chased you are reminded that there is a reason that they pay exponentially higher insurance rates than the rest of us.

 Did I mention the guy who had hay bale twine instead of a belt?  I didn't catch a picture.  But it took me back.  Totally took me back.

I haven't seen or heard anything about rodeos in Africa, although I've seen polo events, marathons, and other sporting competitions.  I do have to wonder how a thing such as bull riding would go over.  I couldn't figure out if it would be greeted with a head-shaking but somewhat fascinated, "Crazy Americans!" or something more akin to, "What the hell is wrong with these people?"

With something approaching regularity, we come across people at the mall while we are in Africa who have never ridden an escalator and regard it almost as something that is just waiting to bite off feet and hands (and far be it for me to deny this, as a person who barely escaped with half a shoelace on a JC Penney escalator once as a teenager).  It is the reaction of those people to rodeo I'd most like to see.

I'm sure it is with the same amusement that they watch me try to drive on the left (wrong) side of the road.  After all, that is the *correct* way to drive.  Right?  Or with the amusement of one born into a culture of bargaining watching the American Mzungu get fleeced by the guy who carves the mini Noah's Arks.

* This was the term used, by Latinos no less.  And I'm not about to argue with however they've chosen to designate their own sporting event.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

In Which I Have Had Enough

I can deal with a lot of unpleasant things; lack of cheese, lack of Splenda, mosquitos that carry the plague.  I can even deal with snakes.

The biggest crocodile I've ever seen at Kalimba Reptile Park.

I hate reptiles in general.  But I can deal with them.

But there is one place where I draw a line in the sand and make my stand:  regional coding on DVDs.

Maybe they aren't interested in hearing it, but movie studios - you are jerks.  Total jerks.  I am American, and have lived most of my life in one place or another in the US.  Thus I have built up quite a DVD collection.  I *own* these movies.

And yet, I find myself unable to watch them now.  Because of your stupid coding.

Even more unfathomable, you have coded South Africa differently from the rest of the continent.  Just WHERE do you think movies ship here from?  I realize that the ROW (rest of world) probably ranks somewhere around the price of broccoli in winter on your importance list, but since I live here it's pretty darn important to me.

The most stupid idea ever.  Other than The Smurfs movie.

Movie studios, you are deliberately trying to cheat me out of my Harry Potter collection, and keep me from watching the season of Fringe that my husband picked up while he was back home.  I am most certainly *NOT* going to pay the ridiculous mark-up for DVDs I already own so that they are region-coded for here.

In fact, I'll venture to say that your execs who have to travel frequently probably get special unlocked DVDs to watch wherever they happen to be.

Well, I spent good money on your, often substandard  (The Smurfs?  REALLY?  Even my 9-year-old couldn't sit through that!), product, and I expect to be able to use it.

And unless you can get with the 21st Century program and understand that there is a very good chance that the people buying your product don't spend their entire lives in a 50 mile radius of where they were born, I am going to put on my black eyepatch and cheer for the pirates to win.

Okay, I've already broken out the pompoms.

Not that I would break the law myself, mind you.  And I believe that people should be paid fairly for what they produce.  But your actions make the pirates seem rather... Robin Hood, don't they?  Let me answer that for you, since you seem too shortsighted to do so on your own:  YES, they seem like Robin Hood.

And for every frustrated moment where I can't watch something I paid money I worked hard to earn, I wish upon you tears of frustration and anger.  I wish upon you Montezuma's Revenge and all those wonderful gastrointestinal delights that go along with visiting Africa.  I wish upon you warts and painful bloating.  I wish you fleas and roaches and bedbugs in your personal bedroom.  

Also, I hope you discover that you are lactose intolerant while taking a week long gourmet vacation to a cheese maker and winery after ingesting two pounds of goat cheese with chives.

Does that sound harsh?  Too bad.  Let justice be done though the heavens fall!

And Sic Semper Tyrannis.   Assholes.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

On the Road, Which is Sometimes Off the Road

We have one of these:

 We were told, "You can't simply use this as a town car!" by a horrified Zambian.

The thing is like driving a bus, no joke.  It's enormous, and quite often larger than the actual street lanes.  The turn radius is ridiculous, which leads to a fairly frequent comedy of errors that looks like that scene from the Austin Powers movie where he's got to back up a little, turn forward a little, back up a little, turn forward a little, ad infinitum.

Of course, problems aside, these are all over the place here.  I think they are probably second in population to Toyota Corollas (I have seen corollas bottomed out and stuck on the unregulated speed bumps here.  It's funny because it isn't my car).  So as ridiculous as I feel driving this, I'm usually on the road with several others at the same time.

Other issues that have arisen with my husband's vehicle choice (I requested a Hilux, just to make that clear) include shifting difficulty on par with the old tractor I used to drive while at my grandfather's farm.  Did I mention that my husband bought a manual transmission?  Right.  He did.

Normally this would not be an issue at all.  Thanks to aforementioned grandfather and my own father's dislike of automatic vehicles for most of my years of existence, I'm quite adept at a manual.

ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD.  Which means with me driving in the left hand side of the car, which feels like the right side of the car to me, unlike the right side of the car which feels wrong.

Nevertheless, I have figured it out and today was my baptism by fire - the run to school all by myself.  Well, myself and the kids.  So it wasn't really by myself, but it was by myself because there wasn't another certified driver present.  Ahem.

We left about five minutes early, as I wanted to leave time for accidental stall outs when mistaking fourth for second (which happens embarrassingly often to me when turning a corner).  Luckily, although the traffic here is ridiculous, it is also slow.  If you get out of third gear, you're asking for trouble.  The propensity of the Airtel and MTN cell-minutes sellers to jump in front of cars with complete disregard for their own safety can not be underestimated!  Navigating the pedestrians is more fraught with risk than worrying about other cars, really.

This picture was taken while we were moving.  A moving vehicle does not stop pedestrians. 

In any case, I made it down the road toward the school without much incident and dropped the kids off.  They were fifteen minutes early, but I shooed them out of the car with admonitions to study their flashcards (another aside - no index cards available here, so I have to cut my own.  As a dedicated believer in all things flashcard, I consider it a small price to pay to drill the kids in French and chemistry terms) and set off on my merry way, feeling quite proud and accomplished that it had all gone so well.

I should have paid more attention in CCD growing up, because I forgot my Proverbs and my pride and haughtiness was just begging for destruction (note to catechismal scribes - can we have that made into a responsorial for mass?  I know it's not from Psalms, but I need frequent reminders).

About halfway back home I encountered the bane of my developing world driving experience... the minibus.  I love watching these guys when I'm not on the road - they are very colorful, as is the teeming horde of humanity crammed within.  But when I am driving, the ridiculous risks they take as a matter of course incite a bubbling cauldron of rage within me.

Waiting for victims

And so it was this morning when a minibus came barreling down the road in the wrong lane, at the the ridiculous equivalent speed of about 30 miles per hour.  THIRTY miles per hour?  PSHAW!  That is unheard of here!  Just yesterday I thought I was hauling butt down Independence Ave at a whopping 40 KPH - in US terms, about 25 MPH.

It felt like I was flying, no joke.

After a few crucial seconds where my mind played this trick on me, "Is he on the wrong side of the road or am I?", I realized I was about to die and steered the truck toward the shoulder of the road.  Which, of course, was teeming with people walking to work.

Those that walk in Africa are well acquainted with such problems, and for the most part they effortlessly moved themselves aside and out of the way.  One poor man was a little too close, and he resorted to diving, a la Tom Daley.

After removing himself from the area of concern, he jumped up, straightened his trousers, and joined me in shaking a fist and shouting at the retreating minibus driver.   That is the accepted behavior here, by the way.  I haven't noticed road rage like what I encounter (okay, what I perpetuate) driving in Los Angeles, but it is encouraged that you inform people when they are acting like idiots and endangering others.  If it is truly an accident or something a person can't figure out (like when I mistake fourth and second), people are very understanding and calm about it.  And this is the ONE place I've ever been where you just can't travel too slow - no one bats an eye at slow vehicles, even if they go around them when they have the chance.

But people here will not stint to tell you, in a very parental way, when you are screwing up.  I have to say it is one of the most culturally endearing characteristics of living here.  Anyone older than I am is parental toward me and grandparently toward my children.  Anyone younger assumes I am going to boss them around.

And if you know someone, they are your family and are entitled to such familial privileges as telling you off when necessary.  This privilege is also reversed, and I can point out idiocy as well.

Anyway, the diving Zambian and I shared a moment of synchronous rage and then went our separate ways; I being thrilled that he understood I was not the problem in this instance.

I made it the rest of the way home easily (knock on wood for the future), and will repeat the whole thing (hopefully minus the idiot minibus driver) this afternoon when I pick the kids up and stop at the store to see if they have garlic in today, as yesterday they were out.