In America we often had offers for people to watch our kids. Many times we were able to get away for a date or a night away to reconnect as a married couple. Having children keeps you busy and makes marriage more challenging. Living in a different culture adds to that challenge, living in a third world culture adds to it even more. This week in Catel, we have visitors, two of which include Andrew's parents. Andrew and his parents asked if they could watch our kids so we could go away for a night. This would be our first get away in the five months we have lived here. We were so excited to be able to just be with each other for a day, a night and some of the next day. We left our house at 8:30 a.m., but by the time we got to Ziguinchor is was 12:15 p.m. We waited quite some time in Catel for a car, then we waited another chunk of time in Sao Domingo. By the time we left Sao Domingo, it was after 10:30. We were going to Beryl’s house first then Beryl was taking us into Ziguinchor. Beryl’s house is so adorable and he has done some nice landscaping with it too. It looks like a great retirement home. Once we got to Ziguinchor, we stopped at the stores, got a little supplies, and then started looking for a hotel. We wanted to stay somewhere nicer than usual. We first stopped at Hotel Aubert and got to see a room there. It was nice, it had air conditioning, running water and hot water, a double bed (our usual stay with the kids does not have a double bed, only twins) and wireless in the room. We then went to a hotel that is next to our usual stay with the kids. This hotel was nice. They had a standard room, which was not as nice as Hotel Aubert, and a luxury room. The luxury room was nice and the view was amazing. It was on the river, it had a beautiful pool (hotel Aubert had a pool as well), the room was spacious with a big bed. However, the difference was that room was 50,000 CFA and the Hotel Aubert was 38,000 CFA. That’s a huge difference for less than 24 hours of staying there. We decided to go with the Hotel Aubert and pray we get a weekend away where we can stay at the nicer one and get to enjoy it. So after we checked into our hotel room, we decided to go walking to find the market we have heard so much about. We knew the general area it was so we started walking. It was much easier to walk without our backpacks and five children in tow. After walking and seeing many little stores, we found the big market. There were women sitting outside the entrance with veggies and when we walked into the market it was busy with people and stores galore. I believe we could find just about anything there. We weren’t there a few minutes before we noticed that we were being followed. We are white, so of course in their minds we have money and they can get something from us. We walked quickly, barely looking at anything as we tried to get him to stop following us. We made it around in a big circle when we passed some other white people and the man decided they would be better to follow. Then we were able to look around and absorb everything. There were shops with jewelry and hair ties, with fabric, clothes, hardware, traditional African decor, shoes, baby toys, literally anything you can think of. It was a total cultural experience. We are thankful we found this market without kids (at least for our first trip it was nice to not have the distraction of keeping hold of the kids) and after we have been here for almost five months we were better able to get around. We were able to bargain and get use our Creole. We even bought Michael a pair of much needed jeans and me a necklace. We both didn’t really want the necklace, but the store keeper really wanted to make the sell, so we got it for an incredibly low price. We left the market and came back to the hotel to relax for a little bit before going out for dinner.
Once we were back at the hotel, we both wanted to wash our feet, as they get filthy walking around. This hotel has hot running water. We haven’t had hot running water for five months, with the exception of me going to the retreat in November. We turned on the water, and proceeded to lather our feet up, but then quickly realized we forgot how hot water gets and started scalding our feet. We frantically adjusted the water all while scalding ourselves with water going everywhere and soaking our clothes before we adjusted the water to what was comfortable. We thought it was a wonderful temperature and proceeded to clean our feet. When we turned off the water, we turned off the cold first to see that we only had the hot water trickling out. Maybe we are more accustomed to bucket showers than we thought.
About 7:30 we decided to go out to a restaurant for supper. We walked a few blocks down to our usual La Kassa restaurant. It was beautiful there with lights everywhere and music. We felt like we were on a date. We shared a small pizza and french fries and then came back to the hotel. Ziguinchor comes alive at night and is quite safe to walk around. There were guards on every street and in front of every hotel, including ours. Once we got back we watched a few episodes of a favorite tv show that we brought along and I quickly fell asleep. Michael couldn’t sleep so he skyped his parents and somehow I woke up around 1:00 a.m. We decided we were going to live up this night without kids and watched another episode and didn’t sleep again until 3:00 a.m. We wanted to enjoy our time without kids as much as possible as it may not happen again for a long time. We slept in and took our time getting ready for the day. Now it is 30 minutes before check out time and our time of going back to reality. It has been a blessing to enjoy being a couple and a night away from village life, but we are looking forward to being back with our kids and friends in Catel.
If you are married, don't forget to date. Remember marriage is being with your best friend, not just parenting. Enjoy each other and if you wake up in the middle of the night and have no kids, don't feel pressure to sleep right away if you can't, enjoy being together no matter what time of the day it is. When your children are raised and off on their own, you will still have each other. Love is more than just physical, it is being friends too. Thank you to Andrew and his parents for being brave enough to watch our children and bless us.