Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Settling in, sort of

April 6, 2007

Good Friday is a holiday in Malta. Yes, in the long 3 weeks that we have been in Malta, we have celebrated no fewer than 2 holidays that involved days off from work. You see, it really isn’t so bad here! We took advantage of the opportunity to have our re-visit of the Attard house, which is the house Terry and I had seen our very first weekend in Malta. We brought the tape measure and took rough measurements. The conclusion: the house is 20% bigger than what we are entitled to today, but 15% smaller than what we will be entitled to in October after we have the baby (the housing size allowance for 1-2 people is the same, but at the 3rd person it goes up). The question: what will the housing board do with this information?

We decided to spend the afternoon of this beautiful, sunny and not too hot yet day outside, wandering along the sea in the opposite direction from where we normally wander. We had been told of a really good Thai restaurant in the Hilton hotel and it was in the back of my mind to try. I was seriously craving Asian food so we decided to give it a try. The meal was very good, all dishes except the pad thai I would even call delicious. However, for US$100 – no, I did not misplace the decimal – we will probably not go back very often. This is something I had noted when researching restaurants here – other than Indian food (thank the Brits for allowing easy passage between all of their colonies!), Asian food is incredibly expensive here. We may be importing many Taste of Thai prepared meals to get through the next 2 years, because after so many pastas and pizzas I really need rice.

April 7, 2007

We were unable to go visit the third and last of the top contender houses yesterday so we had to make another appointment with the same realtor as yesterday to see that house. Terry liked it a lot more than I thought he would, so this replaces the Kappara house as our #2. So, both of our top 2 houses are with the same realtor. I guess in any case Roslyn will be getting our enormous realtor fee! This place is the opposite of the one we love best – totally modern instead of very traditional Maltese, and the location is close to the thick of things rather than out in the village, but it suits our needs almost as well. Also, like the first choice house, it has a pool so that we can cool off in the summer without destroying our budget on air conditioning.

Later in the evening we got to try our hand at figuring out the timing of buses - because all buses go to Valletta, we had to take 2 buses to get to the ambassador’s residence, where we were participating in the very important “egg drop” – hiding Easter eggs out of the sight of the ambassador’s children for tomorrow’s Easter party. It turned out they were in the bath while we were skulking around their orchard (yep, citrus orchard. If we get our dream house we’ll have a lemon tree and an orange tree). We were very proud of our creativity, hiding eggs in tree branches and in the crevasses of the stone walls, and hoped to give the kids a bit of a challenge. We topped off the night with dinner at TGIF – the Jack Daniels burger wasn’t as good but the French fries were – and gelato as the gelateria was trying to close and we froze eating the icy treat in the evening cool. It amazes me how, in this incredibly humid environment, the temperature plummets when the sun goes down. By incredibly humid I mean that the dehumidifier that runs constantly in our living room pulls more than 5 liters of water out of the air every day. We have plans to use the dehumidifier water in the gray-water well at our permanent home, since it is distilled and perfectly clean for garden or pool use.

April 8, 2007

Easter at an embassy means Easter party at the ambassador’s residence. The weather was beautiful, the kids got chocolate-y and messy, and the adults really got into the games. The ambassador won the sack race – she is an athletic lady!

Pennsylvania Coincidence #4: one of the Marines had her parents visiting, and her father grew up within 3 miles of where Terry grew up! They had a grand old time talking about Bethlehem and how it had changed over the years (the father had gone to Liberty HS – Terry’s “rival” school – Freedom HS hadn’t been built yet)

April 9, 2007

I got to put on my suit and feel important today – I was one of a panel of 3 interviewing Maltese academics seeking Fulbright grants to conduct research in the USA. The other panelists were an embassy guy and last years’ Fulbright awardee, who I know and will be working with at the University of Malta Law School.

Other highlights of the day include being informed of what we need to do to get the ball rolling regarding our housing – Terry told the management officer we had made our choice and was told we needed to negotiate the lease and bring the lease to the housing board for the house to be considered (or at least be very close to a final lease), which I find a bit bass-ackward since the housing board could veto the place out of hand because of the size discrepancy issue. Conveniently, we have talked with 2 members of the housing board (before we knew they were members) and they both said they didn’t see a problem with the size issue. I guess I better go full term with this baby!

The final highlight of the day was that I finally got a cell phone. Our home phone doesn’t have voicemail so coordinating anything with anyone, from realtors to Terry, has been a nightmare. We had been hemming and hawing about whether to get a phone from the USA, since they are on average more expensive here, but in the end expediency won (and it ended up being barely more expensive than it would have been at home)! We needed a quad band – that was really the point of getting the phone – and they are all chock-full of bells and whistles like cameras and Bluetooth ability, etc. so now we are laughing that I have the fancy phone and don’t even care, whereas Terry has a very basic phone and he likes bells and whistles. I am just excited to have a means by which people can call me and leave messages if I am not able to answer. Funny how it becomes the simple things that mean everything.

April 11, 2007

We got internet set up at the house!!!!!!!!