Woo-hoo! Our very first guest arrived last night — Neli from East Lansing, Michigan! She’s a brave guest, because we warned her were have no furniture, linens, toiletries, etc., but the draw of La Casa del Jayne was too strong. (BTW, they say our sea freight has made it to the border of Zambia. Will it arrive this week???)
First, we had to make needed repairs (put a shower knob on her shower door; it’s a bummer to get stuck in a shower at a stranger’s home).
Then, we blew up our luxury camping air mattress.
Hmmmm…no, this simply won’t do. Can we really put our first guest on the floor on an air mattress? What kind of reputation would our B&B get? No, we put out a call and our neighbor responded with her couch. (Is a couch better than an air mattress for a B&B? Hmmmm….)
We bought a little sleeping bag and fortunately had an extra pillow and yes, you can see it here, a tiger blanket (freshly washed today and dried with lavender scent).
We cut roses from our garden but wait, we don’t have our vases yet! Oh wait, last time I made spaghetti I used tomato sauce from a jar. Out to the trash heap to retrieve our “vase.” Washed and cleaned it’s perfect!
We bought her a towel and put out some fresh toiletries.
We even baked fresh bread and had a light late dinner of butternut squash soup, fresh whole wheat baked bread, and chocolate cake, waiting for her.
Her flight was due to come in at 9 pm from Johannesburg. Of course, we forgot that we needed to get gas so we were late in arriving at the airport. Thom slowed to 5 mph in front of arrivals and I leapt out and ran to the gate. Fortunately, not more than a minute after I arrived I see her being hassled by the customs clerk. “Ma’am, why are you carrying a big box of wine, don’t you know wine has a 100% duty here.” “But officer,” flashes him her best smile, “it’s for my friends.” “Okay, whatever you want Miss, can I have your phone number?”
Nel races out so fast that the air blurred around her.
She made it to the curbside with her box of South African wine intact. Hurry Thom, hurry! We have to make our getaway before the spell Nel cast over the customs guard breaks.
By the way, Nel is as overeducated as the rest of us. She holds an M.D. and works at a policy institute in Ann Arbor. Her twin sister, Lulama, was one of Thom’s students at Michigan State University, and is now a professor at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. They were born there to a Swedish mother and African father. In their teens they moved to East Lansing, Michigan, because due to apartheid their older siblings were denied access to college (and her parents had earned their advanced degrees at Michigan State University in the 1960s). They’re both graduates of East Lansing High School. Nel’s husband, Will, is a teacher with the Lansing school district.
Nel’s claim to fame is that she gives the most WONDERFUL dinner parties ever. They plan out multi-course meals and have amazing decorations and platings. Recently, she planned her niece’s “princess” birthday party. We all think she should give up her high-falutin’ job and become a party planner. It’s really her gift.
Okay, so we arrive home, show Nel the mansion (she feigns delight at her couch accommodations but gives away her reservations when she says, “maybe I can put the air mattress on the couch,” the princess and the pea and all that).
Then, we go out to heat up the soup and set out the light dinner and poof! The power goes out. It stays out. She asks how long it usually stays out. Thom tries to distract her by showing her the stars from our observation deck, pointing out the vast quadrant of homes darkened by the power outage.
The poor girl just traveled across three countries to get here so we give her the best we’ve got — fresh bread and chocolate cake. (Notice she starts off with the cake first. Wise woman.)
We give her our one and only lantern and off she goes to bed. It’s almost 11 pm anyways. But what’s this? The Boerboel puppy is nipping at her dress (she’s wearing a long, flow-y thing that Coco thinks is a play toy). I give her the secret weapon (a water spray bottle) and with one squirt Coco runs the other way.
We have a big day planned today. It’s Nel and Lulama’s birthday on Thursday, so we’re celebrating by doing a half-day at the Senses & Sensorium Day Spa. We get a mani-pedi, hot rock massage, Indian head massage, and Ozone treatment (God knows what that is). (Happy birthday Lu! We’ll post photos of Nel enjoying your birthday present.)