Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Looking Back: One Year Ago Today–A Shopping Excursion

Monday Oct. 18, 2010

(I’m pretty much writing this whole day from memory.  I had five whopping words written in my journal.) :)

We laid pretty low again today.  Another adoptive mom and I were wanting to do some shopping at a local market and James agreed to take us. 

We spent a really long time waiting for our driver to come, and James, my friend, and I hung out at the guest house just talking.  We talked a lot with James about what Congolese and American cultures were like.  It was so interesting!  We learned about dating/courting/engagement/marriage, about how Christmas is celebrated (Christmas celebrations are only about Jesus, no Santa involved), how housing is obtained, and more.

He shared that he just assumed American life was like what he had seen in the movies.  We assured him our lives were nothing like the movies!  He laughed at some of our silly customs and holidays (I mean, really…the concept of Groundhog’s Day is pretty crazy!) and we just enjoyed talking and sharing our lives with each other. 

The driver eventually arrived and James took us to a local shopping area.  I guess in my mind, I was thinking more open air market with local goods being sold.  I was hoping to find some pottery, fabrics, artwork, etc.  Instead, he took us to several small shops that sold the same kind of plastic toys and household goods you can find in some stores in America.  It really surprised me to learn, too, that these shops weren’t even owned and staffed by Congolese, but by Asians.  Most items for sale were placed behind floor to ceiling windows with every item numbered.  If you wanted to purchase something, you told the clerk that you wanted a #37 and a #76.  A few items hung from the ceiling or the walls.  It wasn’t at all what I had pictured. 

We didn’t shop for very long.  First, it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for and second, we didn’t feel super safe.  I’m sure that people had to wonder who we were and why we were there and we got lots of stares again.  Because we were just mingling in among the people, that was my first experience with a military presence.  I saw guys with guns today.  They were just wandering around in the streets like everyone else.  I have to admit, it sent a few shivers down my back. 

We did stop in one Congolese clothing shop.  I say “shop” because that’s what it was, but this shop was nothing like any store in America.  It was maybe the size of a bathroom, master closet, or laundry room here.  You could fit no more than five or six people in there and there were probably one dozen outfits for sale.  That’s it.  It was dark – the only light came from the outdoors.  It was pretty cool to see authentic Congolese clothing and my friend bought a traditional dress.  I didn’t buy one because I’m a really indecisive spender (like I’ve determined that Groupon and Living Social are not for me.  By the time I’ve done the research and  finally decided that I want something, it’s no longer available!)  I just couldn’t think of a time or place where I’d wear it.  I wish I wouldn’t have been so stinking practical and would have just bought it, both so that I could have supported their local economy and to have it to show my children.  They really were beautiful, and so different from anything at home. 

Once we returned to the guest house, Hubby and I had some problem solving to do.  Blake was not staying on his bed in the night.  He’d roll off and we’d hear him fall on the ceramic tile.  We’d get up out of bed, make sure he was okay, put him back in the middle of his mattress, and repeat this process probably at least a dozen times every night.  Needless to say, it was getting old.  We tried one night with him sleeping in our double bed with us, but one night was more than enough to know that wouldn’t work.  I have never seen a kid so antsy.  I literally stayed awake counting the seconds between each kick or flop.  I’d get to about 12 and he’d do it again.  Every 12 seconds on average.  All night long.  No one slept that night.

We started looking for something we could use as a makeshift crib.  David and Barb had an old suitcase they had brought.  It wasn’t even theirs; it was their niece’s (if memory serves me right?) and they had “borrowed” it after their giant duffel bag was destroyed during their cross country flight in the States.  They didn’t want to take it back home and gave us permission to cut the inside pockets and straps out and let him sleep inside the suitcase (with the lid open, obviously!) 

Ah, peaceful sleep at last!  He did GREAT in there and I think he felt comfort having a more confined space.  Isn’t he cute!?!  


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