Saturday, July 25, 2009

Half Lemon, Half Orange

This week I asked Simon, one of the Health Care Workers, his opinion about a certain situation. His response?

“Ehmmmmmm…I’m thinking, half lemon, half orange.” He said with a wide, confident smile.

“Oh, you mean it’s so-so? Kind of not-so-good, kind of good, then?” I asked.

“Yeeeessssss!” he said nodding his head enthusiastically as the smile got so wide that his eyes crinkled at the edges.

I think I’m going to use that “half lemon, half orange” expression a time or two myself. It seems fitting for those situations that are of a not-so-good, sort of good kind of nature.

In fact, today was a "half lemon, half orange” kind of day. We had decided that although we had other work that urgently needed our attention, we should make a quick trip to town to pick up some stuff before we got totally absorbed in the leaders’ intensive seminar next week. It’s always nearly impossible to get away when those seminars are on because each day’s schedule is back-to-back sessions. We thought we’d do a quick morning trip and be back by lunchtime. That would give us the afternoon to focus on the work we really wanted to get done.

So off we headed into Chimoio, our nearest business center about 45 minutes away.

First, we needed cash. This is not a cashless society--at all! The cues at the ATM’s were ridiculously long though, and banks were closed, so we had to resort to trading foreign currency on the “parallel market” (aka: independent money changers who ply their trade in the streets, many times, right outside banks).

Then we headed for the propane gas outlet in high hopes they’d be open on Saturday—not a popular notion here to be open on the weekend-- AND that they’d have some full cylinders to exchange. (We run gas fridges and stoves, so propane is about as essential as water for us.) Wouldn’t you know it…they had one full tank for us. (Bingo! Orange ☺)

Then we headed for the grocery store to pick up our week’s groceries. Things were busy, but then they usually are at our one and only true grocery store in town. When the full bill had been totaled, I pulled out a credit card to pay (this is the ONLY store in town that accepts credit cards—what a luxury). When the lady at the till saw my credit card, she said apologetically, “Ohhhhh…we can’t take cards today. The machines weren’t working and the bank has removed them all. You have to pay cash. We accept Mozambique Meticais, South African Rands or U.S. Dollars.” (lemon. major lemon) We had not counted on this new development. Cash flow is always a challenge here because, like I said, we’re not a cashless society at all and banking/dealing with multiple currencies is a real challenge! After some “Ohhh’s” and “Hmmm’s” we decided on a careful combination of Rands and Meticais. We certainly couldn’t leave our week’s food supply sitting there at the till!

Once that and a few more stops were done, it was time to head home. Oh, but to be on the safe side, we decided we should get some fuel. So off we head to the nearest fuel station. Problem is, there is a critical fuel shortage here right now so it took us 3 station stops (of arm waving and “No! No fuel here!”) to finally find the one and only gas station in town that had fuel (orange, I guess). You can tell if a station has fuel these days because of the long cue outside. So we entered the cue (that, would be a lemon) which at that point extended outside the station into a lane on the wrong side of a main highway.

We're the silver pick-up above. Gas station in the distance.

Yes, it was a bit disconcerting to have big semi’s barreling down on us! (Remember that we have right-hand-drive vehicles and drive on the left-hand side here).

I think the entire countryside showed up for fuel right then, everything from pedestrians wanting as little as 500 ml to huge buses (below) that wanted goodness-knows-how-much and did their best to cut in line. Actually, nearly everyone was cutting in line. For almost an entire 2 hours, we waited, in line, for 32 litres of diesel.

This guy just kept inching closer and closer and would have run us right off the track had Dwight not gotten out of our vehicle and gone and talked to him through his front windshield (he seemed oblivious to my talking and arm-waving right beside him).

In fact, he actually ran right into the guy behind us. There was a rather heated debate going on about then. Just one of many, mind you. I imagine that maybe the gold rush was something like this?

Finally we made it to the pump and got our fuel. ☺ Phew. By the time we got home, it was nearly 4 p.m. Time to make a fire for hot water, sort out a few details for the pastors who were arriving for the seminar, and get supper on. So much for getting much else done!

Here are a few of the promised photos of delightful, recent developments (yeah, oranges).

The Mercy Air plot, house foundations being dug and garage/storage area which is already up (building at top of photo).

An orphan/widow home that went up and was painted in our absence. I think it's beautiful. Note the guinea fowl between the house and the stick hut :). I know, they're small in the photo, but I love the fact that they're there.

Brand new latrines at the nearby preschool. Gotta love the pink flower which, of course, denotes "girls".

I better run, we'll soon be offline for the night. Here's hoping you have more oranges than lemons this week.


Catherine said...

Defintely not surprised to hear that morning of errands turned into a whole day! :-/
I'll be praying for you guys for strength during your leadership training and fir more diesel. I'd send you some if I could!

Russell said...

Hey mom, sounds hectic. You mention the guinea fowl near the hug... it should be "hut" I assume. And near the beginning you are talking about "half lemon, half orange" but put the quotes like this: half "lemon, half orange". Just two things I noticed that need fixing :)

Amanda said...

Haha... that lineup for fuel made me laugh just a little bit. Oh Africa. :)