Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Miata Basa" Week

I've been saying "miata basa" all week.

Miata basa (pronounced my-tah bah-sah) is one of the most useful Shona words I have in my vocabulary.  It thanks a person and acknowledges with gratitude, "You have done work for me."  And oh, have people done work for me this week.... 

We've had some exhausting weeks here, but we are on the tail end of a doozy.  

Wednesday: Dead car battery.  Friend Karyn comes with cables for a jump.  I am nervous- no idea how to even open the hood of this borrowed car- but as Karyn just jumped her husband's car that very morning (welcome to the African auto industry), she is ready and able. Miata basa, Karyn!

Thursday morning: Our security alarm has been broken since, well... basically since we got here.  It's not that it doesn't work well enough.  It's that it works too well... our alarm has been going off in the middle of the night at least twice a month due to a creepy false alarm indicating the movement of the interior side of our bedroom windows while we sleep.  But over the past few weeks it has increased to going off every night at least once between 12 and 3 am.  (Awesome with a three year old.) After 7 or 8 times of having the repair team attend to this issue, the housing manager switches companies and brings in someone new to deal with our mystery. They spend almost six hours working on it, and finally "finish" everything Thursday morning.  Miata basa, security guys!

Thursday afternoon: We have a new hot water heater (here they are called "geysers") then installed in our home.  (And by "new" I mean a dented thing that fell off the truck twice in America before being sent to Africa for safe keeping.)  We waited seven months for this lovely new piece of high-tech wonder, which heats half of our home's water.  

(Quick infrastructure lesson:  Water, filtered by mother nature herself, is pumped cold out of the ground from a thing called our "borehole" -when we have electricity, that is- and goes straight to our tap or to one of our two geysers, both of which are located above the house in the attic.  Gravity is used to create water pressure -terrible, terrible water pressure- to then send the hot water down to sinks, tubs, etc.)  So yes.  Our hot water heater needs to be carried 15 feet off the ground... 

Here two handy-men and our gardener open up our roof, done by removing cement tiles.

Next our rafters are sawed through to provide an opening for the old geyser to be removed and the "new" one to be installed. 

Here comes the old geyser, being removed from the attic.  This is not a light piece of equipment... especially with all of that rust and lead paint in it.

I love how the guy on top thinks his tiny piece of dental floss will catch the geyser if it falls!  Two hands, buddy.

This is no small task.  Kudos to any man who can carry a hot water heater on his head down a ladder.

Miata basa, strong workmen!

Thursday evening: We cannot find Jonas' beloved baseball hat anywhere. Searching for it, a quick trip to the grocery store, and an unsuccessful run to the petrol station (they are out of the diesel we need) fill all of our time before Kurt arrives home just in time for dinner after his ball practice. Kurt plays with Jonas all evening while I cook.  Miata basa, Kurt!

Thursday night:  It is close to midnight.  I have just completed two loads of laundry, and cooking four lasagnas, thirty cupcakes, and a large basketball cake for tomorrow's basketball awards dinner for Kurt's team.  I have convinced husband Kurt to stay up late doing dishes after putting Jonas to bed.  It is around this time that we realize the new geyser in the attic, running all evening for laundry and dishes, has been raining down water through the ceilings into the rooms below.  We then empty out two closets and a bathroom, trying to keep dry ourselves and praying the crumbling, sopping brown ceiling does not cave in on us.  It continues to "rain" in our house all night long.  Miata basa, Kurt!

Friday morning: The security team calls to see how the alarm works.  You have to explain that because of water flowing through the alarm panel, you could not even turn it on, let alone run it for the night.  You apologize and promise to let them know if you can turn it back on when it eventually is emptied of water. Our gardener Shoman cleans up from the flooding while a new plumber comes at 7 am.  Dressed in a suit and tie, he was clearly not expecting the school's emergency call. But thankfully, he rolls up his sleeves, and gets to work with two others for over three hours.  When he arrives, he calls it a "disaster," but by the time he finishes he was calls it... well... "still a disaster."  We are now waiting for everything to dry before the ceiling work begins next week.  Miata basa, Shoman and plumber!

Friday afternoon: Jonas and I are in our borrowed car on the way to the petrol station when it literally dies on the middle of an intersection half-way between our house and school.  The sun is beating down, I have no stroller, we have three large bags with us, and we are in a hurry.  I call friend Karyn again.  Though she is in the middle of teaching a class of pre-schoolers, without hesitation she jumps in her car to pick us up.  As we drive to the school, she reminds me that the car cannnot be left for more than a few minutes. It will be dismantled from the tires up if we do not get back to it immediately, and most likely phone calls had already been made to summon people to the intersection.  I interrupt Kurt's class (which I have never done before) and explain in a whisper.

Kurt runs around school for a few minutes while Jonas begs for lunch.  Kurt comes back with keys from a wonderful co-worker named Al, and we hop in his car to get back to the intersection.  As we drive, we chatter about how to transport the four lasagnas, thirty cupcakes, and one basketball cake to the party that night with no working vehicle.  Meanwhile we have no idea what to do with a car in the middle of an intersection if our one option does not work... We decide to get more gas.  Quintessential Zim car: the dashboard lights are nonfunctional, and without a gas gage, we have no idea how much diesel is in this borrowed piece of tin.

Kurt drops Jonas and I back off at the car, where we eat our sandwiches while Kurt drives home to get a jerry-can to fill with diesel.  Jonas and I watch while six men with tools in hand walk up the street eyeing the car.  When they realized we are in it, doors open and on the phone, they turn at the intersection and walk away.  Kurt returns, fills the car with diesel, and voila.  It works once again!  Kurt rushes back to school in Al's car, and Jonas and I rush to the petrol station for a real fill-up. Miata basa, Al, Karyn, and Kurt!


Friday evening: After spending the rest of the afternoon decorating the cake and cupcakes, Jonas and I rush to an after-school party at our friends' (the Mullens') house.  After a half hour, we rush back home and pick up food. We drive to our other friend's house to pop lasagna's in his oven for the basketball dinner, then drive to school to drop the car to Kurt.  We ride with "other friend" -also known as "Jon"- to his house, finish cooking food, and then enjoy the party when Kurt arrives with twenty-some high school basketball players.  After the party, we clean up, bid Jon goodbye, and head back to party #1 for another appearance.

Saturday morning: After turning the house upside down for days we find Jonas' missing hat outside in his stroller. Basketball tournament to finish off the season.  By this point I'm too tired to even describe.  We sit down back at home for lunch and sigh.  We have just survived our week.  Miata basa, God!