Life as an expat can be full of adventure and intrigue. You can find yourself watching the sun rise over the Serengeti or set over the Sahara; yacht racing off Gibraltar or sidewall skiing in Riyadh; hiking Machu Picchu or riding a dhow through the Strait of Hormuz. Then again, there are also the days that are chock full of more intrigue than one girl can bear, especially when they start off with the discovery that you have no water. In spite of living in yet another desert country, you were assured when you did the "welcome to your new home" walk-through with the building manager last week, that the two cisterns in the basement allegedly held two cubic meters of water each and that there were multiple top-off deliveries weekly. Of course, then you remembered that you also discovered that the gauge on the water tank was broken but you'd forgotten to follow up with that. So, with "water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink," running through your head, you make the emergency water calls, stack the dirty breakfast dishes off to the side and mentally calculate a rotation schedule for the five toilets in the house.
A few hours later, after a brisk two-mile walk with fellow ex-pat moms and strollers, and an hour on the playground tiring out the toddlers, you put the baby down for her nap and you happily collapse for your blessed two-hour mid-day break. But 45 minutes into the two-hour nap, the doorbell clangs and there's a guy delivering hangers and a TV that your husband had requested to borrow. You're grateful for the hangers and the TV, since you're still awaiting the arrival of all your household stuff, however now the baby's awake and there's no convincing her to return to sleep.
An hour later the kitchen contractors arrive, as scheduled, and for the next hour-and-a-half you spin between the front door and the garden door letting men in and out as they gather and retrieve tools and supplies and all things needed to install cabinet doors, drawer fronts, shelves and hardware that hadn't been completed before your arrival two weeks prior.
During all this fun, you add to the mix another gentleman who arrives to install a doorbell at the garden gate. You had no idea this was needed, but sure, go ahead, the more clanging bells to wake up the baby the better. Then you get to shove the furniture around with him looking for an empty plug that the remote bell can use. You try all four in the front two rooms, but as soon as he walks outside, the sensor goes dead. He blames it on the battery, though you point out the thick cement walls may be a factor as well. Failing at his intended mission, he then joins the men in the kitchen because you just can't have too many men named Khalid with electric screwdrivers and hinges.
However, despite the never-ending amusement of trying to pick up Arabic contracting terms and watching men with screwdrivers and flying sawdust, the effects of the baby's mini-nap start to set in with the crankies and the eye-rubbing, so you opt to give another nap a try, even though your instincts tell you she's not going to sleep for nothing.
You put her down and before you've taken ten steps the bellowing begins. And as a parent, you know the different cries. This is not the "I'm going to fuss a bit, but then I'll calm down and go to sleep" cry, this is the "I'm going to cry until I'm purple or blowing chunks" cry. But still you tell yourself you're going to give it five minutes. Sixty seconds later, you hear coughing and by the time you've raced back to the bedroom, your darling little cherub is a volcano spewing partially digested tofu and broccoli everywhere.
So you leave the Khalids to their business, hoping they don't let the cat out during their forays in and out, and you address the dripping child, the dripping sheet, blanket, stuffed owl, and even the slats of the crib. Amazing talents this child has given a mere sixty seconds.
After the cleanup, you return to the kitchen (verifying the cat hasn't left the recliner, but why would he?) to find that the cabinet doors, shelves and drawer fronts are installed, but only half have handles. Apparently there was a miscalculation during a previous assessment as to just how many handles were needed. No worries, we have three years.
So, with Ahmad, Mohammed, and the two Khalids gone, you finally escape to the garden and begin to count down the minutes until Daddy gets home to relieve you (94, 93, 92...). Under the blue skies and gentle breeze, with the baby toddling around picking up sticks and rocks, you breathe a deep sigh of contentment and give yourself a little pat on the back for surviving yet another intrigue-filled day as an expat. Then your daughter runs up with a big smile and hands you the latest rock she's found. As you bend over to proclaim the requisite admirations, you see that it's not actually a new rock in your hand, it's desiccated cat poop. Yup, definitely more intrigue than one girl can handle. I think it's time to drain out those cisterns with a good scalding four-hour shower. Oh Calgon, do you come with anti-bacterial?