Since Walter’s flight for Georgia left so early this morning, we had planned on driving to Dallas yesterday and spending the night in a hotel near the airport. I was cunning enough to get a hotel with an airport shuttle so that I wouldn’t have to get up in the dead of night to drive my husband to the airport!
So anyway, we left a little before noon yesterday and had lunch on the way. Our first stop was Half Price Books, a favorite browsing spot, and one that brings back memories of our courtship. When we were dating, my future husband would borrow a car (well, actually my friend Don’s van) on Saturday nights. Instead of taking me out to eat like a normal boyfriend, we would eat at the college cafeteria and then he’d take me to the bookstore and let me pick out a paperback book, while he picked out one for himself. Is it any wonder I fell for him?
I found a couple of books and gifts for upcoming birthdays, and also got a Grieg CD for only $2.99. He found a couple of books and movies that he was very happy with. Then we picked out desserts for later at the German bakery and headed for the hotel to check in. (Yes, there is actually a dessert that is gluten free and not too hard on my blood sugar!)
We checked into our hotel, carried our stuff in, and signed up for the shuttle before heading out to our next stop, the import store known as the British Emporium. Flynn used to shop there and bring us goodies from time to time, but we had never been there ourselves. We found the place without difficulty thanks to Nigel (my phone GPS) and pulled into a parking space. Walter got out of the car and I opened my door and started to get out when a big pickup truck backed up right beside me and into the open door of the Suburban!
Yikes! I was sure the door was just going to snap off. Walter was trying to warn the truck driver and thank goodness he pulled forward and took the stress off the door. The door was still attached, but the hinge had been “sprung” and it does not close quite right anymore. Also, it cannot be opened from the inside. The guy in the truck felt terrible. He was as nice as could be, especially considering it was his birthday and he was on his way to his birthday dinner when he backed into our car! When he realized Walter was on his way out of town for a week, he decided to call his insurance company right away to report the incident and get the process going.
Meanwhile, I went on into the store as it was only going to be open for another hour. It was the kind of store that is very dangerous for me–where I want virtually everything inside but most of it is priced well beyond my budget. I did splurge on mug, because obviously I don’t have enough yet, right? I also found a tin of black treacle that I simply had to get for old time’s sake:
This is what they used to make treacle toffee at Sakeji when I was a girl.
I also found some jelly babies for the kids and a few other similar goodies. They had Marmite but I currently have a stockpile so I didn’t need to get any! I looked in vain for my favorite soft drink, Schweppes Bitter Lemon, but all in all I was happy with my choices. If you remember my exhaustive search for rhubarb a couple of weeks ago, then you’ll understand how happy I was to find canned rhubarb in this store. However, at $5 per can I found I could continue to live without it!
Our original plan had been to eat at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant, but it was on the other side of town and my husband was not at all thrilled at the thought of driving over there. As we have gotten older, he likes big city driving less and less, and I can hardly complain since I have never liked it at all! So I did some research on my phone and found an African restaurant that was fairly near our hotel.
It wasn’t Ethiopian, but it was definitely African! A sign in the front window proclaimed, “The Best Goat Meat in Town.” That boded well before we even stepped through the door. Everyone in there was African, except us. That was also a very good sign. The cook/waitress brought us the menu and it became clear that the food was mostly West African, with a few East African dishes as well. She told us to pick our drinks from the glass-fronted fridge by the wall. You can imagine my unbounded delight when I discovered several bottles of Schweppes Bitter Lemon!
After studying the menu and trying to figure out what would be easiest on my blood sugar (since I was splurging on my favorite soft drink), I decided on nyama choma, which is just grilled meat, served in this case with very authentic greens and fried plantains. I asked for a side order of goat meat, because I wanted to see if it really was the best in town. Walter went for the grilled fish.
While we waited for our food, the three men at the next table spontaneously broke into song. What with the smell and the Bitter Lemon and the prospect of nyama choma and three African men singing in glorious harmony right beside us, I was overcome with homesickness.
Our food arrived. Walter’s grilled fish was just that–an entire large fish grilled to perfection. It took some work to get all the meat off the bones, but it was worth the work. My food was also excellent, though the waitress had forgot to bring the side order of goat. When I went to pay up, I grabbed a few extra bottles of the Schweppes to bring home and hoard for very special occasions. The waitress apologized for forgetting the goat meat and put it in a to-go box for me. She also knew I had lived in Africa by the way the words “nyama choma” rolled so trippingly off my tongue when I ordered my meal! So we had a nice little chat about that.
I had noticed there was an African grocery store a couple of stores down from the restaurant, so we of course went to check it out. It was truly African in that there was very little variety! Lots of maize meal and rice and lots and lots of palm oil. I did get some palm oil as we still have Africa coming up in Geography. They also had some lengths of African fabric hanging up along the walls. I was thrilled, until I looked at the first one I thought was pretty and saw the price was $45! Granted, I believe it was a 6-yard length instead of the standard 2 yards, but that is still pretty pricy! On the other side of the room I found another piece of fabric that was high quality and drop-dead gorgeous. I coveted it from the bottom of my heart. However, when I saw the price tag, I was cured. $75! I walked out of there with just a jar of palm oil and some Eno salts. The lady at the store also pegged me as from Africa because, I think, I was a white lady in an African store!
All in all, if it weren’t for the car door mishap, it was a pretty satisfying day. We retired to the hotel and made tea to drink with our German desserts. We also tried the goat meat, and it was indeed delicious. The restaurant’s boast was not an idle one.
Walter had to get up at 4:15 this morning. I did not get up. After he left, however, I found it very difficult to get back to sleep, so after getting breakfast at the hotel I went back to my room and took a nap before driving home!
The drive home was uneventful and filled with Grieg and it was good to be back. Walter had arrived safely in Atlanta before I ever even checked out of the hotel this morning. He will be spending the week helping his mom and sister like he did last year at about this time.