I had a very adventurous day. For me. First stop, the photo hut where we got some passport photos of Zizi done. I asked for 5×7 – the size required for said passport photo. They showed me the photo – a very obvious square-shaped 5×5. Normally I would just sigh and leave. Today, however, was my independent adventure day. So I explained it was not 5×7, did they have a ruler? No. When the picture gets printed, the machine does it this way. Right, well, that doesn’t help me. They insisted it was 5×7. But it’s a squaaaaaare…equal siiiiiiides. They gave me my money back which is a rare thing in business in Addis.
Next stop, the ever important food! I find myself constantly feeding now that I’m half way through this pregnancy. Snacks were high on my list. Not going with the husband means I can just chuck things in the cart without having to speak about any of the purchases. I liked it. And tonight I’m having crackers and cheese with pickles for a snack. I like that too.
The taxi driver (a woman which is a very rare thing in transport in Addis) dropped me off at home and helped me in with the groceries. She asked to use the washroom so I directed her upstairs. She came back and asked, “Serategna yelleshem?” which translates to “You don’t have a maid?” which further translates to “Your house is a mess.” Nope! No maid.
It’s extremely common to have a cleaner/cook/laundry all around woman who keeps your house disaster free and dust free. We’ve had maids in the past – one good and the others not so good. It can be irritating to have an almost stranger in your space constantly. You have to continually speak to them about what to do and what not to do when some things should be just plain common sense. For example, our last maid would mop the bathroom floor first and then proceed to mop the entire house. You have to be on guard in your own home in case they decide to make off with your clothes or your sugar or your stash of cash. The plus, of course, is that you don’t have to wash a single dish or cook a single meal, etc etc. But sometimes, it’s just easier to do it yourself. I’m not the best organizer and the floors aren’t mopped every day and all of the sudden there are gigantic spider webs and I wonder where they come from but a house that’s super duper tidy without a single stick of furniture out of place doesn’t really seem lived in to me. If the floors get mopped twice in one week, I consider it somewhat of a miracle and a job well done. If a piece of clothing makes it from the clothesline outside to the ironing pile to the hanger in the same day, I consider it a definite miracle.
I admit the status of my house on any particular day largely influences whether visitors will be permitted. A certain degree of messiness is expected in Canada especially if the house is known to contain children who leave mess trails. But here, if people see toys on the floor, laundry not put away and sticky fingerprints on the tv, you are seen as the struggling (if not failing) housewife who is subjecting your family to live in dire straits. I don’t often expect many visitors.
I do try and keep things in relative order for Zizi’s sake (wouldn’t want her to grow up in chaos) and for the husband’s sake (he is a hard workin’ man after all). I wonder about my mom who kept everything spotless. Did she ever procrastinate about washing out a greasy pan at the end of the night? I don’t ever recall seeing rings around the bathtub. We hardly ever ate out. How did she do it? It’s a mystery to me. I have the chance never to do dishes again, but I still choose to do it all. Although there is a pan with rice stuck to it waiting for me. I guess I’ll save that for tomorrow’s adventure.