Hanging out in Berberati

This week, hanging out has been my main activity. It’s been wonderful! In the mornings I’ve been with Elise, who keeps the guest house running here, and in the afternoons I’ve been going over to Lisa’s house.

Mornings with Elise have included going to the market, hanging out with her in the kitchen, and doing some jewelry-making together. She’s a natural story-teller and keeps me intrigued with her anecdotes and explanations of things about her country.

Elise, getting more talking than jewelry-making accomplished. This is what doing crafts together is all about, isn’t it?

 Working on our bead-and-wire chain bracelets.

Going to the market has been one of my favorite activities this week…for the walk there as much as the market itself. Today Elise took me on a winding route through neighborhood foot-paths, and showed me her house and beautiful children, wells and pumps installed by ICDI, schools and churches, and even a funeral.

Elise showing off her favorite market purchase. Apparently they’re delicious to a Central African palate, but mercifully she didn’t prepare them for our lunch.
 To prepare this rainy-season delicacy, they are first boiled, then dried in the sun, then fried with oil, onions and garlic; these here are still crawling around.

Afternoons at Lisa’s house have been all about sitting on the porch talking, doing crafts (she’s teaching me two new quilt patterns; all I’ve ever made before is simple square-and-rectangle quilts), and watching her kids play. They have four children of their own and an adopted son, and during the summer there are seven other kids staying with them. It’s like a never-ending school recess in their yard!
The lovely Lisa!
She started me off making a cathedral-window quilt square; it’s like doing origami.

Lisa’s hand-powered sewing machine; you turn the wheel with your right hand while sewing with the left. And I love how beautiful of a machine it is.


The fabric I picked out at the market for my second quilt project. 


I love my fabric…and Lisa’s amazing home-made caramels. 


Chamberline—Lisa and Marcellin’s oldest, kite-flying.


Chamberline and Debbie

I’m so impressed by how the older kids (boys as well as girls) care so well for the younger ones. They each took turns carrying little Debbie (age 12 months) around and playing with her, and to me never seemed annoyed or bored with it. I asked Lisa if her kids ever disobeyed her, and she just kindof looked at me like that was a strange question, and was like “of course not.” Like the idea of her kids disobeying her was just silly. And as far as I could tell from my time there, it was a silly idea: obedience appeared to be simply the modus operandi.


Bath time!


All washed, rinsed, lotioned, oiled, and powdered.

Three weeks in Africa

Jay and I are in the Central African Republic for three weeks. It’s a business trip for Jay, as he works part-time for ICDI, a community development NGO. I get to tag along this time, and enjoy this beautiful country. So far, I’ve been hanging out with the cooks at the places we’re staying, reading, studying French, and doing some sketches.

The porch of the house we’re staying in…where I’m currently sitting.

Flora… (so far no exciting fauna…and I’m kindof OK with that).

Somehow I have a hard time imagining finding an “Espace Bush”over here.

Day trip to the Alps

During the past few months I’ve been working on being content with where I am and what I’m doing right now… trying to focus on the present rather than always looking to the future for the next thing. I have to admit that’s a lot easier to do on days when we get to do this: