It has been an interesting week here for us. A few big nights of staying up late, coupled with some busy days at work and one new adventure to the post office! We even tried to go to a late show of the new James Bond movie which premiered here yesterday, but 10:30 was a bit TOO late for me (by 9pm I was very grateful that we weren't going to the movies...although we did stay up to watch Obama's press conference) so we'll be going to the 6:45 show tonight.
Today I am 23 full weeks pregnant. I have to say that other than my fatigue and the occasional waddling from lower back pain, I am feeling great. I am definitely growing bigger, and apparently people around me are noticing! At the election party we went to there were two different people who asked me if (a) I am having twins and (b) if I am due in December! I am not THAT big, but maybe because I am normally so petite I look further along than I am? I hope I was not too snippy in my reply: "Just one baby, first week of March!" There was also a funny scene at the party in which a complete stranger started to rub my belly. I have heard of this happening to pregnant women, who are entitled to react in a variety of ways. It didn't bother me that much and mostly I just thought it was funny that it was actually happening, but soon she realized that maybe she crossed a boundary and completely freaked out! "I'm so sorry! I can't believe I just did that, that is so gross! I didn't even ask! I hated when people did that to me when I was pregnant! I'm so sorry!" Her realization made it a much bigger incident than it would have been; I assured her that it was no problem and Kristoffer and I had a good laugh.
But about that trip to the post office...if you read some of our blogs last year you'll know that going to the Central Post Office to pick up a package (when it is bigger than an envelope it has to go through "customs" which means you have to open it in front of a postal worker) has the potential to ruin even the best of days. It is something we have to plan very carefully: we can only go on Fridays because it closes at 5pm and we would never make it there in time from the UN on a regular work-day. Fridays we are off from work early and still we need to brave weekend traffic through the city's center.
The reason we went to the post office yesterday is because my friend Joanna sent me a birthday present back in July to arrive in August. We received a "yellow slip" notification of the package the first week of August...and then we accidentally lost that slip of paper. When at the post-office to pick up some other packages in August, we asked them what we should do about this and they said we could just give them the tracking number...but we didn't tell Joanna to save the tracking number for us so we didn't have that information. Then they said they would send us another "yellow slip" within 2 weeks time. OK...so we decided to wait for that.
Well it is now November and we still never got another "yellow slip" and I have been getting increasingly frustrated and sad that the post office is holding my birthday present hostage! Yesterday I begged Kristoffer to take me to the post office so I could further investigate and hopefully get them to help us find the package without the magical "yellow slip" or a tracking number. I was prepared to tell them that there was an autographed picture of Barack Obama in the box if I had to!
The first funny part of our trip was that the two guys who are generally responsible for retrieving packages remembered us from August. They didn't even really need to see our identification! The only package that they could come up with was one from Denmark that we had gotten from Kristoffer's mom already. To my credit, I did not freak out. I have learned that raising my voice to a Kenyan is not helpful - they just do not respond to that at all. So I spoke slowly, clearly, and with the patience of Job. We were told to go to a back room of the post office and were handed off to another lady who tried to make the situation seem hopeless, especially because I didn't know the size of the package we were picking up. After she kept saying that there was nothing we could do without that damned "yellow slip" or the tracking number, and I kept saying that there had to be something we could do to find the package because we know they have it...she said, "Well...if you have the patience, you can go through all of our books of "yellow slip" receipts from July and August to find the one you are looking for." She was definitely expecting us to say "No way!", but clearly she didn't know me. I was like, "Yes! Please let us!" She brought us a stack of about 15 books of "yellow slip" receipts and we started reading through them. I had a general idea of when the package arrived (end of July) so I started with that book and sure enough within 3 minutes I had found the yellow slip addressed to me for a package from the USA!
It took a few more minutes for this lady to get her act together, but she did issue us another "yellow slip", which we took back to our two friends at the package window and who very quickly found my package from Joanna! We had to open the box in front of the customs ladies...who were talking to Kristoffer about Barack Obama of course, were happy that I was American, and were VERY surprised that we persisted enough to find the package! When we opened it we found my birthday gift - an ORANGE maternity t-shirt - and a baby gift - the book "Goodnight Boston" and a Patriots football blanket! One customs lady said, "Are those for the baby?" and the other one said, "What baby?" and we said together pointing at my belly, "The baby in there!" It was our first baby gift and it was very exciting...especially because I'd been waiting since August just knowing that the box was there. I wonder how many people never get their "yellow slips" and just leave their packages in the large, non-digital abyss of the Kenyan post office.
We were so happy that we didn't even mind all of the traffic we had to sit through to get home. And we realized that once our driver starts working for us next year, we can send him to the post office to pick up our packages for us! So cool! And the lesson we have all learned is this: we appreciate gifts and love getting them, but please make sure you send us the tracking number if you ever send us a package so that we can ensure the post office doesn't keep the package from us for months!
p.s. Thank you to Joanna and Dave for actually sending my birthday/baby package...I am so glad it was not in vain!