Friday, November 28, 2008

One Day

That's how long it took for the tears to come back. Pathetic I know. Our lawyer and judge's secretary couldn't go to get Maya's birth mother's signature today. It was supposed to be the 29th October. Then the 11th November. Then the 20th November. Then the 28th November (today). Now it's supposed to be next Monday. The saga goes on. And on. And on. One positive thing I note is that each time it gets postponed, it gets postponed to a sooner date. First 13 days later. Then 9, then 8, now 3. That has to mean something, right?

It's not the fault of Maya's birth mother, or our lawyer, or the judge, or the secretary, or anyone in particular that we're stuck at this final stage, it's really the entire court system that is working against us now. Anyway. All we have left is some hope. As usual. So, we continue to hope that we'll get to the finish post. Otherwise, I think we'll have to look for jobs in Mexico and move here permanently. I'm kidding. But I do wonder.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

After the flood

Well, car is back. Anna and Jose (?) who works for Anna's husband spent the afternoon driving back and forth to sort out car stuff, and then turned up at my door at 3pm to go and pick it up, so off we went. Never have I been so happy to see Pepi's trashy old dunger of a car.

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, something we kiwis don't celebrate, but my goodness, I'm giving thanks to have Anna as my friend.

Let's see now how many days can go by without the tears. Time to buck up missy!

Floods of rain and tears

Woke up this morning to pouring rain, which is a rare sight in this dry land. Also to no car and no internet connection. My world is getting smaller and smaller by the day. Maya and I are now restricted to walking distance journeys. We live on one of those suburban complexes, gated community, I think it's called, and the options for walking are pretty slim. Anyway. How did we get ourselves into this pickle? Or how did I get us into this pickle, Maya does nothing but smile and charm her way through life!!

Yesterday, we were in Playas for the afternoon, going to Gymboree and then lunch with Anna and Yara. When we went back to the car, it wasn't there, and the tow truck was busy towing another badly parked car away too. In my defence, (ah, there's always an excuse, and I bet those pick-up truck guys have heard them all, not that it makes a fig of difference) I parked correctly, then noticed all the other cars behind slightly up on the kerb (one of those slightly raised kerbs, not a sharp step kind) since the street is so narrow. So I moved the car (duh!!! never again) in line with the other cars. Of course, being the first car in the row, mine got towed.

I'm thanking my lucky stars (though I'm not really 100% sure that I actually have any lucky stars. I'd like to swap my unlucky stars for some lucky ones) that Anna was with me. She leapt into action, insisting on driving with me to the tow yard with the guy who was coming to pick her up from Playas. A fellow from her husband's work. Then, when we got the unpleasant news that the car owner (Pepi) has to pick up the car, she got on the phone to her husband to find out what to do. Pepi is away communing with his spirituality in India for the next two months. Hector promised to sort it all out the next day, so I've left all the car documents, etc, etc with Anna. Now just waiting on tenterhooks to find out if Hector can use his charm and influence to get the car back.

I'm coming to realise that it's not the end of the world to accept people's help. I'm such a stubbornly independent type. No doubt in my old age I will struggle across streets with fifteen bursting-at-the-seams shopping bags refusing help from some kind soul who's offering. And yet, I'll jump at the chance to help out someone else in need. Silly girl.

Anyway, all this latest nonsense, on top of an unbelievably up and down week in our adoption story (more about that another time) has reduced me to an emotional train wreck. My kind neighbour Marco, who's been persistently trying to help solve the internet connection issues, simply asked me how I was yesterday, when I was outside trying again to connect. This produced a flood of tears and now he's lent me his laptop to use. The signal's still weak, but just strong enough to not constantly cut out at least. I went to pick up the letter to take to the phone company to set up the phone line, so in theory, all these internet woes will end. The guy in the office asked me how I was, in the way you ask strangers or customers or the person on the street how they are. Another flood of tears. Hearing the kind and familiar voice of my mother-in-law this morning on the phone: another flood of tears.

Keep telling myself: one day, you'll look back at this time with fond memories and smile. Can't wait, can't wait. Bring on that day. Bring it on. We're ready for it!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Time to stop the grumbling and focus on the good stuff - photos!

Little miss flexible showing off her stuff.
This is one of Maya's latest tricks. It's not easy to pin her down and change her nappy, and this is the result of one such adventure. As soon as the nappy was on, she was up and off before I could finish dressing her and then trying out the downward dog - my least favourite yoga position, by the way.

This was at the first birthday party of one of the boys from Maya's music class as Gymboree. This is Maya with a couple of her wee friends, Nicolas and Yaroslava

Maya checking out the playground at the birthday party.

If only I could figure out how to rotate photos... Any hints?

Maya helping the birthday boy, Jahek, drive his car.

Wow. Have you ever seen such an enormous piñata? Maya looks suitably impressed.

This was one of the possibilities for Halloween night. I went with the pink hat, but we couldn't keep the wig on Maya for more than 2 seconds so it was a resounding 'no'.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Li-ittle Things

According to Trinity Roots, it's the little things that really matter. This has been a week of little things that have all added up to create one gigantic headache, and phew, I'm ready to curl up in a ball and just sob. In fact, I've done that a bit this week, hate to admit. Am tired, at the end of my patience, and daydreaming more than ever of the hundred different ways to smuggle a small baby back to Abu Dhabi. Actually there aren't a hundred different ways. There isn't even one way. We're waiting out the official way. That's the problem, as this never-ending waiting feels literally, never-ending.

Our enemy for this week has been technology. Our weak internet connection - through the neighbour's wireless - seemed to be fixed by the installation of a booster thingamigiggy. But once again, that was a short-lived victory, and once again, I'm sitting out by the neighbour's front door trying to connect. It's not the end of the world, as I can still hear Maya (if she really yells) from out there, so I go out once she's gone to bed at night. It's a bit chilly, but nothing a jersey and scarf can't fix. So I was willing to accept this less-than-ideal internet connection, until all our bankcard woes began. And the neighbour's extended family have come to visit and the father-in-law was looking askance at me this morning, as I was sitting in their garden desperately trying for a signal.

Turns out every single bank or credit card we have, between the two of us, has had some kind of block or cancellation put on it, due to some dodgy withdrawals in Russia, goodness knows where else, and as it turns out Mexico. Have been using my bankcard here with no issues for months, and suddenly the bank decides that hello, someone is withdrawing money in Tijuana - better block it. Weirdly, apparently I called our bank in Abu Dhabi to tell them about fraudulent use, so they cancelled it on my behalf. Huh???

Even my emergency bankcard has been blocked, apparently for quite some time, and I didn't know because I never use it, until in desperation, I tried yesterday. And apparently all these banks (all two of them!) have been trying to let us know this, but because I'm here, I'm not getting my mail. Ahhh, one thing leads to another and until things fall apart, we blithely march on, totally unaware.

So, Ahmed and I have been trying to sort all this out with gmail chat that dies every time I step more than a few feet away from the neighbour's house, or the wind blows in the wrong direction, or a bird flies past, or something, I don't know how these things work...

I would probably be dealing with all this nonsense better if we didn't have the frightening prospect of the whole adoption process coming to a standstill for a month while the court closes for Christmas holidays. We are still waiting for Maya's biological mother to sign off the adoption (that's a whole other story), after which there are ten working days of... something? until the final decree is issued. And with a total of fifteen working days left until the court's holiday, I'm getting nervous. So far none of the times we've been desperately hoping against hope that something will go our way has it actually worked in our favour. So my gut feeling is a whole extra month of sitting and waiting until court reopens.

Ok, finish off with a little nice news: Ahmed is coming back over here for a week from the 2nd December. He has a holiday then, and can't bear to sit around Abu Dhabi while we're still here, so once again, crazy long flight, a week to get over the jetlag, and then he's off again! He'll be bringing my replacement bankcard, and the next stage of Maya's clothing - 9 -12 months - and some cold weather clothes, and we can't wait!!! It's the prospect of visits that make this crazy process bearable.

Perhaps our bankcards/credit cards have all died from exhaustion after overuse on all these crazy flights back and forth...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Mighty Wind

The Santa Ana winds have been blowing hot air down from the Californian deserts for three days now, causing all sorts of destruction in California, and we were woken up again by the creaking doors this morning. Not just that, but no electricity, and a gigantic dark cloud of smoke billowing up over the hill at the end of our street.

I actually looked around the house and mentally calculated a bunch of different scenarios:

1. We decide it's safer to leave, and I have an hour or so to pack the car - take Maya (!), passport, her birth certificate, FM3 visa, custody papers, laptop, Maya's food, bottles, our clothes, her cot, toiletries, baby book, some novels, shoes, etc etc.

2. We get asked to evacuate and have 20 minutes to pack - take the first ten or so items

3. The house is on fire and we're running -grab the baby!

I find all the important documents listed above, and stick them in the car in any case. You never know. We went out for the rest of the day and came back to no wind, no billowing cloud of smoke, no burnt down house but yes electricity, so all's right with our little world again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nannie Prue

For the past couple of weeks Maya’s Nannie Prue has been here and what a bottle-washing, baby-bathing, vacuum-cleaning, coffee-drinking whirlwind she’s been!

Maya and I arrived back from Ixtapa on Saturday evening. Early the next morning I dropped Maya off with Guadalupe and went to San Diego to pick up mum, who had cleverly negotiated the Southern California transport system to make her way from LAX to San Diego central train station. She arrived fresh as a daisy, all in one piece, and with her luggage. In April, mum’s suitcases decided to break loose and have some solo time and arrived two days later, spitting out her camera somewhere along the way. Just like my suitcases spat out my two crappy cellphones in Mexico City on the way back from Abu Dhabi. I think those techno-thieving baggage handlers will be disappointed with my $15 phones that don’t take photos, don’t have internet access, can’t do anything much other than phone and text.

Since my mum’s last visit, I’ve discovered a number of great little cafes, so I wrote a list and we gradually made our way down it during mum’s stay. If you ever happen to be in search of a good coffee (and cake, not to forget the cake!) in the Tijuana area, here are my recommendations:

½ Naranja Café – my all time favourite. Mario is the friendliest guy ever, and makes an iced coffee that I’ll gladly drive across town for. Comfy sofas, great food, funky bathrooms, wacky artworks and magazines in English (some of which I donated).
Saverios Caffe – Yummiest Italian food in town, and a very dangerous cake cabinet with panna cotta, tiramisu, divine chocolate cakes and more…
Café de la Flor – Again, killer cakes.

Ross Café – an old favourite, with the super friendly waiter, Mario. Seems to be a café name. Walnut and fig cake. Java coffee. That devilish combo was my lunch for about three weeks straight, till I started to feel a bit revolting.
Lat 32 – supremely unfriendly service from two very nonchalant girls, whose job is sit around looking surly. But with gorgeous big leather sofas that take half the morning just to climb back out of, an ocean front setting, and its crazy décor, I can’t resist. The coffee’s not half bad, either.

Cha Cha’s Café – Run by the lovely Cha Cha, whose jalapeño jelly proceeds go towards the upkeep of one of Sister Clare’s orphanages. Her apple pies are hit and miss. If you hit, it’s a light, fluffy, appley mouthful of heaven. If you miss, it’s a tough crust and the ice cream’s run out.

Zu Taza – Great coffees and sandwiches. Sofas. What’s not to love?
Café – That’s the only name on the sign of this funny little hole in the wall. Which, in fact, doesn’t have the best coffee in town, but is full of atmosphere and art, all kinds of insects and creatures sculpted out of iron all over the walls.

Ok, tourist guide is over.

Maya and her Nana had a ball getting to know each other and the cafes of Tijuana are sad and lonely without my partner in coffee. We miss you Nannie Prue!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Today was our witnessing day at the First Family Court of Tijuana. Finally. Finally. Finally. Only seven months after we’d expected it to be. Mum, Maya and I trundled down to the courthouse, met my friend Anna, her daughter Yara, her mother-in-law who drove her, and Yara’s cousin Sophia.

Mum and Anna went in separately to the judge’s secretary and answered questions such as:
How do you know Emma? (My mother laughed)
How long have you known Emma? (My mother laughed again)
Do you think Emma & Ahmed will make good parents? (My mother cried at that one, kind of emotional I guess!) How do you know? Will they treat Maya as their own daughter? Will this adoption be beneficial for the minor? Why? Do Emma or Ahmed abuse alcohol or drugs? Etc, etc.

The next step is to get Maya’s biological mother to sign off her relinquishment of all parental rights, which is to take place next Thursday, and then wait ten working days for … something official, publishing the decree, typing up a letter, twiddling thumbs, etc, and then we can move onto the new birth certificate stage, then the passport application, then the visa application, then… so the theory goes: the trip home. Still many, many weeks away, but it’s starting to almost feel like we might, actually, in fact, perhaps, one day, go home.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New digs

Maya and I got back from Ixtapa on Saturday night and moved to our new place at around 8pm. Crazy time of day to move house, I know, but circumstances...

My first conundrum was where to put our increasingly mobile girl to sleep? The wee crib got left behind by mistake, so couldn't be picked up till the following day. I considered my bed first. But it was too heavy to move against the wall by myself, so that was out. Then the built-in wardrobe (contained - there'd be no escaping!), but that just seemed a bit absurd. Then a duvet and bunch of pillows on the floor, but I could see her taking off on a tour of the house in the middle of the night. I eventually settled for moving one of the lighter beds against the wall, and building a massive wall of pillows and duvets to keep her in, and sleeping on the other side of her. So that was sorted out. Energy was spent after the bedding issue, so I went to bed myself...

Our new place is 10 minutes down the coastline toll road from Playas, in a fairly new housing development. Main incentive for moving: no beasties or creepy crawlies (we hope!), moving away from Pepi and his disturbing mental health issues, and hopefully moving to less stressful living circumstances.

After a week here, there are some definite pros of the move:
- Extremely friendly neighbours, who've invited us trick or treating & to a street party already. Marco across the street has been trying his best to get our wireless working all week.

Maya ready to collect bags of sweets she can't eat in her dino outfit.

- Julia from Red Cross is two streets down and has lent me her vacuum cleaner to vacuum the place which was extremely dusty. And offered babysitting any time. She adores Maya.
- There's a pool and jacuzzi, that get heated at the weekend. And very fast wireless internet up by the pool.

- There's a big lawn and playground. Maya thinks the swing is pretty cool. And the grass. And the sand.

- A working washing machine and dryer right in the kitchen!!
- A great rug (even greater after a thorough vacuum from Julia's vacuum cleaner) for Maya to crawl around on and play.

After giving the whole place a thorough clean - Guadalupe on bathrooms, floors, Mum on fridge, floors, rugs, Ahmed on floors and dusting and me on vacuuming, stove and microwave - and stocking the kitchen with a few more utensils, we're pretty much set, except for one major problem that our combined computer knowledge just can't figure out. (Mine and mum's admittedly very flimsy knowledge, but I judge Ahmed to be the expert and even he couldn't work this one out).

We just cannot get the internet to work. The signal from Marco's across the way is strong enough, and Ahmed brought his booster to help it, but we just cannot connect. It connected twice, so both times we relaxed and thought we were away laughing, but alas, no. Every time we open up the internet it tells us: This page cannot be loaded. Please check your internet connection. Not sure what to do, as bringing Maya up to the pool every time I use the computer is impossible. Little wriggler gets bored after 5 minutes. I'm not really feeling up to the task of working it out, am just a bit tired of making decisions and struggling to get anything done. Right now one of us looks after scallywags in the house while the other goes up to the pool to use internet. Once mum goes home...???

I remember thinking back in Pepi's palace of weirdness: oh well, despite all the madness here, at least the internet works. My escape valve. Perhaps I'll ask someone in the office here if they know a computer expert who can come and take a look.