Settling In, Getting Out

We hired a housekeeper this week. She’s coming three times a week – and before you scoff at the manner in which I’m so easily taking up colonial ways, just know that I live in a house with a LOT of tile floors here, people. Those floors are definitely not cleaning themselves. Plus, she’s a nice lady who will teach me how to make a local coconut-meat stew, it’s been promised!! This was mentioned during our initial meeting and my heart straight up skipped a beat.

This recent acquiescence of colonialism, in conjunction with the fact that we’ve set up our Ikea closet system, means that it’s official. We’re settled! And that’s all it takes in this household, really – a semi-permanent closet setup and a housekeeper. Says a lot about our priorities, shoot.

So naturally, now that we’ve settled in so nicely, the DiploMan says to me, let’s get out. Of course.



It’s been two months, and he’s looking for these outs. For example, there’s a minor medical procedure I might have to get done in Pretoria, and we’ve talked about how it’s a great excuse to explore a new place. We’re twisted. Hence a mad hunt for cheap flights today, for no other reason but because it’s been awhile since we’ve hopped on a plane ($500 to Johannesburg and back, btw. Not bad, internet, not bad).

For now, we’ll stick to wheels. This weekend, we’ve planned a short trip up the coast to Bagamoyo. It’s our first trip out of Dar, and I’m stoked. Of course in planning this one-hour drive, two-day excursion, I can’t help but think of the possibilities. You better believe that $500 flight was just the start to a long string of internet queries.

Let’s not forget Cape Town and Johannesburg. Or Namibia, and Zambia. There’s the entire Serengeti to explore. We have to climb Kilimanjaro (or as it’s known locally, just Kili). We must go to Ngorongoro and trek around the crater. We should probably see the majesty that is Lake Victoria. I want to count how many wildebeest I see during the migration. Drive through deserts in a Land Rover and trek through jungles holding a machete. That’s only sub-Sahara, too. I can’t forget Egypt, Morocco, Algeria. We’ll skip Somalia for now…and during these two years we’ll have friends in Ghana, friends in Rwanda, friends in Kenya, friends in South Africa. Friends in the U.A.E.. Friends all over.


This profession that the DiploMan has taken up, it’s not for everyone. It takes a certain type of person – A person for whom traveling is not an escape, but a way of life. It’s a bit of a freakish thing, I think, this lifestyle, but I must admit I’m getting the hang of it. I like spicy food and I’m totally down with The Wire. I studied abroad for one summer, and I speak about 2.75 languages (these are all common threads I’ve found with Foreign Service folk). Am I fooling anyone?

But you know the real reason I know I’m getting the hang of this crazy lifestyle? How I know I’m fitting in with the band of traveling circus monkeys that we call our friends? Because I, too, am straight up itching to get out.

I know, I know, we’ve just settled in…


All photos from this post were taken in Point Reyes National Park during our trip home to California this May. Bay Area, we love you!

Pineapple Province

As a welcomed surprise to me, the southern part of Zhong Shan is known for producing pineapples!  There, the larger pineapples- unadulterated by any sort of GMO’s- are the size of about two fists.  The smaller ones- ones that I can barely believe produce any meat- that are the size of one small fist.  Both are rounder and more gnarly looking than the Dole variety I am used to seeing at home.

Dim Sum

For my second dim sum meal in the three weeks since I’ve arrived in Guangzhou, I went with a group of locals.  Definitely a plus, since the better restaurants have no english and very few pictures on their menus.  In the States, we’re used to the lady-pushing-cart dim sum style.  Here, there are no ladies and no carts (much to my dismay), so in most cases you order off the menu just like you would any other meal.  Like I said, thank goodness we went with our Local friends!

A few highlights of the meal: Learning that the locals all agreed that Pu’er is their favorite tea- Dark in color, and mildy sweet in flavor, it’s a cleansing option that doesn’t interfere with the flavors of your meal.  They are also big on chicken feet, which I am not scared of thanks to Mom.  Lots of chicken feet on the table.  Steamed in soup, braised in soy and chilies.  My plate was a holocaust of chicken feet remains.  Finally, date jello.  Not what it’s technically called, but that’s essentially what it was.  Not the most amazing thing I’ve had, but it was interesting, and gave me a bit of inspiration to try something similar at home.