The Christmas marathon continued with presents from Santa, and a large family dinner, with all the extended family, many of whom I had not yet met, South Africa being a very long trek from San Francisco. Us early risers were charged with preparing the table for the dinner (21 seated to eat), along with the housekeeper. I haven't quite got used to the idea of having servants, but "cookie", a sweet indian woman who comes every weekday to clean and do laundry, is very sweet, and certainly makes our lives easier. Labour is cheap here, and all middle class folk of any race employ help in the house. (the kids, always early birds, are getting up atound 5.00am here, which is slightly denting the 'relaxing vacation' concept.)
The sight of her stocking stuffed wth gifts brought great excitment from geekygirl, though we did persuade her to down a bowl of "strawberry pops" before the unwrapping frenzy began. (every single breakfast cereal here seems to be sugar coated. I eventually found a Cheerio like brand, called Oatees, but even these innocent and wholesome looking cereal circles were coated in a veneer of sugaryness. I find going to the supermarket in different countries to be endlessly fascinating. Here there are many unfamiliar brands. In this age of globalization one tends to find many of the same products everywhere, but the forced isolation of South Africa by international sanctions forced it to develop its own version of almost everything. Though apparently not heathly breakfast cereal!)
As I hoped, Geekgirl was enthralled with her new baby doll, Christened after a whole day of consideration as "Hannah". She retreated into several hours of fantasy play, and allowed me the luxury of a bit of time with my book!
When she woke from a very deep present stimulated nap, the house was filled with guests. Geekygirl is wary of new people, so was rather overwhelmed. Geekybaby, however, loves everyone, and was passed arund from pillar to post, lighting up the room with his baby smile, despite the yellow crusts around his eyes. Poor guy developed a nasty cold after the trip, one of the downsides of taking a curious ten month old who puts everytihng in his mouth on three consecutive flights.
Two of the new comers though were Nikki and Sasha, boys aged 5 and 3. It did not take long for Geekygirl to become the boss of them, engaging them in a hilarious game of kiss chase. "I chase you then I kiss you".
The afternoon had a scary mment though. This houe is on a golf course, green and beautiful, and very civilized. It doesn't really feel like Africa, until the electricity goes out (every couple of days), the water goes out (just once so far), and the plumbing fails (a couple of times on the trip). The other thing that gives a tase of the exotic is the local pests; monkeys! Just as squirrels may run around in an ordinary estate, the monkeys raom free here. They are adorable little beasts with long long tails. The children are fascinated, geekybaby demonstrating his pointing skills at the fantastic creatures.
Geekgirl was so enamoured of them on Chritsmas evening that she walked backwards of the high patio in the courtyard, losing her footing and tumbling down 5 steep concrete steps. I thrust geekybaby into the arms of the nearest relative and grabbed her, my heart in my mouth. I waved off the attentions of the gaggle of well meaning great aunts, who geekygirl was not very keen on anyway, and definately did not want to be fawned over in her terrified state. Fortunately she was unscratched, and this was confirmed by a cousin who is a doctor. Within a few minutes she was back to running around with the boys as if nothing had happened.
It was certainly a Christmas day to remember