A sudden change of plan

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Dear Baby,

Remember how for the past two weeks mommy pleaded and begged for you to begin making your way into this world? Well, forget that ever happened. I sort of need you to hang in there for a little while longer. I know this seems confusing right now after the stern tone mommy used and words like “eviction” and “ultimatum” but trust me there is a good reason behind all of this.

You will grow up to learn that life is sometimes unfair and some events are completely out of your control so all that’s left to do at time is – to deal with it. Three days ago, just hours before I wrote the post below (emphasizing that it’s time…) your daddy’s work compelled him to travel a few hours away from home  to a land of little network coverage and scarce transportation. As much as daddy didn’t want to go (because words like “eviction” and “ultimatum” were also used by his boss) he had no other choice but to comply. I made a promise to daddy that you and I will not do anything crazy (like be born at home or in the hospital without him) so please stand firmly by our promise. It would absolutely break his heart if you arrived into this world and he wasn’t the first person to hold you or check what color your eyes are…

I probably shouldn’t have promised him that we will absolutely not go into labor without him (because how could I know, right?) but something tells me you will hold on until he gets back. I know you guys have a very special bond (already) and waiting until he is there to welcome you into this world is just a crazy little stunt you are completely capable of pulling. So, lets wait, ok?

Hang in there until he gets back, which should be in the next 24 hrs and then we will just go ahead and pretend that mommy didn’t confuse and misguide you before you were even born by first bribing you to make a quick exit and then convincing you not even think about escaping for three whole days. Crazy, I know.

Thanks and hoping for your understanding in this situation!

Mommy

Are we there yet?

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Pregnancy- day two hundred seventy freakin’ three. No seriously. I am still pregnant.

although I am not overdue (yet…) statistics do show that most first time mothers give birth a week or two before their due date, the same darn statistics that promised me that only 5% of women deliver on the actual due date that has been forecast.

Yet, here I am. Excited, nervous and oh-so-sick of waiting. (Not to mention bloated, uncomfortable, tired, swollen…just peachy basically…)

I read somewhere that the most common craving that pregnant women have is not to be pregnant. That might seem a little over the top but trust me 9 months into it even the most “sunshine-up-their-butts” mothers start to feel like this just can’t end soon enough. The exhaustion you feel is both mental and physical, your mind is constantly replaying possibilities of “what could go wrong in labor” and your body aches from your toes to the ends of your hair.

I also miss the little things. Like seeing my feet when I look down, fitting into my clothes and shoes or simply getting out of bed without having to roll to the side and readjust the 4 pillows that are prompting my back. Ugh.

The general opinion here (amongst husband and family) is that I still have time and the baby will come out when she needs to and when she decides. But wait, I though I was the boss of this baby- why can’t she come out when I want her to? I pick now. Or at least today. Please?

I have friends calling me every single day asking me if she is here yet or every time I call one of them they thing it’s only because I am in labor…nope…still pregnant…just wanted to say hello. The conversation I have with My Cynthia everyday is a straight replay out of Shrek ” Are we there yet? ” ….” No not yet”….”What about now”….”Still not”….It’s rediculous.

I apologize if you were expecting a touchy-feely post about how prepared and excited we are to welcome our daughter any day now and instead you got stuck reading the rantings of a sick-and-oh-so-tired pregnant woman. Believe you me, we are ready. The bed is made, the hospital bags packed, the baby bottles sterilized and even the video camera is charged. I’ve had a lot of time on my hands…just waiting for the grand entrance now.

I shall keep you posted.

Why pregnant women aren’t fun…

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How often do you encounter a heavily pregnant woman in society? Once a week? Once a month? Hardly ever? There is a reason for that my friends. Women who are on their 7th month or somewhat past that benchmark- avoid leaving the house (and with good reasons!).I am going to take a minute here and give you the low-down on why pregnant women are a nuisance and must be kept indoors for the sake of everybody’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Disclaimer: The below are my personal observations that I am not afraid to generalize as I find comfort in believing that every woman at 30 weeks of pregnant or more is as miserable as I am. So here is why we aren’t fun:

  • We need to pee all the time. Going into a supermarket, a mall or a restaurant we map out the bathroom routes well in advance. It is anything but sexy when just after two sips of herbal tea or water we need to make a trip to the bathroom yet again. Moreover those around us (spouses, family or friends) shamelessly blur out “Oh so you need to go AGAIN?”. Yes damn it. There is a giant baby using my bladder as a jumping castle- I need to go AGAIN. Thank you for the announcement.
  • We have trouble getting off sofas, low armchairs or just very squishy and comfy surfaces which usually results in our spouse giving us a gentle push or reaching out their hand to help. Think: giant whale being hauled off the shore during a rescue operation. Sexxxyy
  • We over-react to everything. Whether it’s the waiter getting the order wrong or a car horn beeping restlessly nearly- the smallest things make our blood boil. But it isn’t us- it’s those darn hormones. These pesky little demons are to blame for our sudden tearful outburst over the shoes we no longer fit into or the orange juice Costa didn’t forgot to serve us. We understand this is very embarrassing for those around us or sometimes even fatal- if they are the subject of our scorn. So these situations are best avoided.
  • When we want something we want it NOW. Yesterday , I really wanted a burger (right after I ate a box of cinnamon rolls). I was a little hungry, tolerable. But I WANTED A BURGER NOW. I was physically shaking by the time my order arrived. I was close to tears. I needed to taste that juicy beef patty, smeared generously with ketchup and mayo and placed lovingly between crunchy salad leaves and tomatoes. I couldn’t even focus or talk while I waited for it.
  • Angry when hungry. Pretty much summarized in the above bullet point. Works like this: from 0 to absolute bitch in 0.1 seconds if hunger kicks in. God forbid I come home and dinner isn’t heated or ready. Or if we get invited over to a friend’s house for lunch and they are just in the process of cooking it. I mean…I expect to receive food when I want it. Right then and there. Hunger just leads to a catastrophe because THERE IS A GIANT BABY inside me that wants a sugar rush right NOW!
  • Our energy is usually at it’s peak between 10 am and 12pm. Anytime after that is either nap time or bedtime. I simply cannot be “hanging out” in the evening. I was up all day-I am huge-the baby is kicking all the time- I just want my sofa-go away. We beg your pardon for not wanting to come to your party that only starts at 9pm or for making you leave a party and drive us home whenever it’s convenient for us. Take a sleeping pill and spin 30 times on an office chair- you might come to feel  a fraction of what we feel on a daily basis.

Well, aren’t we just a ray of sunshine? But we undrestand that 99% of the time we are unreasonable, snappy and just generally high maintenance so we avoid social gatherings, malls, restaurants, parties, clubs and other delightful scenarios. It isn’t because we don’t feel sexy enough to dress up and go out- it’s just safer for all of you if we stay home under lock and key.

Road rage & the stupids

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Much has been said about driving in Oman already. Everyone who has spent at least 20 minutes on the roads here will know that it’s a constant battle of good against evil. It is downright dangerous. People drive like maniacs. Especially taxi drivers. There doesn’t seem to be a single reason for this obscene driving except that the roads are too darn smooth and no natural “barriers” exist to slow down the drivers apart from…light posts, pedestrians or other cars.

So me and mom are driving back from a friend’s house late last night when we encounter a very unpleasant umm “situation”. Mom is turning left, indicator on and the whole deal- out of the corner of my eye I see a car that is doing 100km/h in our direction and warn mom to take care because he is “flying” towards us. Mom obviously doesn’t see him because there are trucks and cars blocking her vision and she either doesn’t hear me or completely underestimated how quickly he was “flying”. She takes her turn and we hear mind-numbing screeching of brakes behind us as I yell at her to hit the gas pedal to get out of his way faster.

Now obviously someone is wrong here. He was speeding and mom didn’t see him so they can both be held equally responsible. However, the accident was avoided but what happened next was utterly obscene. The driver kept on gesturing for mom to pull over and once she did he started calling the police.  I stayed in the car at first but then once he claimed to have “a 9 months pregnant wife in the car who was about to give birth because the road situation scared her so much” I had to get out of the car and demonstrate that…”ya..ok she isn’t the only freaked out pregnant lady there”. Imagine the man’s surprise? He was still on his phone trying to reach…I assume the police? however no one was answering. I told him he can’t call the police if there was no accident they would just not show up! My mom said sorry like a million time and explained that she just didn’t see him because of the parked cars but he didn’t care. Since no police had showed up 10 minutes later and he was still on the phone…(with no one), we decided to leave. Mom said she is going to go and apologize to his “9 months-about-to-go-into-labour-wife” and imagine the shock she got when she discovered that not only did the lady say “oh-no-problem”…but SHE WASN’T EVEN PREGNANT!

Seriously. The man was going to call the police because he was cut off by another car and lied about his wife (?) going into labour. Ah, so maybe the next time a car breaks too suddenly in front of you or maybe  A BIRD FLIES PAST YOUR WINDSHIELD go ahead and call The Royal Oman Police- they would be thrilled to hear your little story over a cup of (decaf for this guy!) coffee.

Sheesh.

Seriously Gross…

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I have been so restless.

I’ve been wanting to move furniture around, change the curtains in every room and repaint the walls. This just might be the “nesting” stage of pregnancy women refer to when trying to mask how-anxious-they-are-about-the-baby. I think that extra special dose of hype women feel in the last few months of pregnancy is largely attributed to nerves. Buying a new lamp or hanging up new paintings is my way of saying “I might have no control over how the delivery will go and I definetly have no idea what do to once the baby arrives…but damn it, at least I definitely know this brown lamp will match our beige sofa”. Do you get the drift? It’s a way to exercise some control over an otherwise completely helpless situation.

But it’s probably not as bad as I make it sound.

We have however been checking out apartments whilst trying to find “something bigger”, “something cheaper” or even “groundfloor-would-be-nice”. So yesterday I finally got hold of a realtor who promised to show me an apartment on our street. We secured a 7:30pm appointment and when he still hasn’t shown up by 8:15 I could literally hear the echo of the vein pulsating on Alex’s forehead. He has very little patience for slackers. After Mohammed got sick of the missed calls I left on his mobile he finally called back to apologize for being late. Some 50 minutes later we were finally escorted to a building which was just across the street from us (“Moving would be easy- I thought).

What seemed like a rather average looking apartment building turned out to house perhaps the dirtiest apartment I have ever seen in my life. To be fair Mohammed did warn us that the tenants have moved out just a day before. I now know where they filmed Joe’s Apartment- a seriously grotesque movie that I accidentally watched as a child. If you have not come across this masterpiece, here is a quick recap it’s about a guy (Joe!) who moves to New York and discovers that he must share his run-down apartment with a couple thousand singing, dancing cockroaches.

“What is that smell” were the first words my husband uttered when he stepped in.Not only were the walls smeared, scratched and generally lacking a cover of paint but all sorts of crap was scattered around the floor. It seemed as though the last tenants prefered to throw their garbage right out the window-or so indicated their “back yard”. Then I saw him. Lurking on the kitchen counter…was perhaps the biggest cockroach I have encountered in my entire life. For comparison? Think of a matchbox or a KinderSurprise egg. His whiskers were as long as my cat’s. Seeing my terror Mohammed mumbled something about “bring in pest control if we require it” to which I silently added “animal rescue and the ghost busters as well“.

So dear ex-tenants of Cockroach-ville. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Living in a cockroach invested house- unless the cockroaches were holding you hostage – seriously no excuse for that. It’s discusting and unsanitary. And whilst personal hygiene is totally subjective- there are certain codes set by the society in which we live in and you Mr.CockroachFarmOwner are no freaking exception.

Needless to say we returned home seconds later and I literally hugged the hospital-clean walls, the shiny kitchen counters and promised my apartment that I will never ever ever ever leave it.

Baby shower, shower.

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I am very fond of the idea of having a baby shower. What could be better than to gather with your closest friends and enjoy an afternoon spend together indulging in appetizers, chit-chat and unwrapping gifts!
I would also much rather prefer to catch up with everyone before the baby is born instead of having dozens of people visit me at the hospital literally hours after I give birth- with all due respect, that’s exhausting.
My Cynthia is currently in charge of coordination all the baby shower arrangements which is still a long two months away (but it’s never too early to plan, right?).  So this weekend we ventured into Mothercare hoping to get some information on their registration process. I was counting on a procedure that went something along the lines of: a give them a list of everything I need from the store and they share it with whoever shops for my baby shower. Pretty straight forward, right?
The tragedy conversation went something like this:
Me: Umm, excuse me.
(Both employees behind the counter continue pricing/unwrapping/picking their nose).
Me: Excuse me, hello?
(Employees turn around with totally blank expressions on their faces).
Cynthia: Do you do registrations for baby showers?
(Blank expressions continue…)
Cynthia: Baby showers? You know, like we want to hold a baby shower and we can register gifts so that the guests can chose from a list of items and bring them to the party?
(Here employees’ eyes widen but nevertheless the blank expressions prevail).
UselessEmployee1: We have this. (Hands us a Feedback and Comments Form)
Me: No, no. Well you know, for a baby shower, I can chose some items and people can give them to me during the baby shower.
(A light bulb appears above the head of one of the employees)
UselessEmployee1: Aaaa… (scratches head)
(Exchanges confused glances with UselessEmployee2)
UselessEmployee2: Baby Shower? Shower? Ohh shower? Ok!!!
(Both employees attempt to lead us to the shampoo/sponge/cotton balls/bath lotion section).
Me and Cynthia: Nooooooooo!
Cynthia: Not this shower, a BABY SHOWER!
Me: Cynthia stop saying shower! That’s what’s confusing them!
Cynthia: IS THERE A MANAGER WE CAN TALK TO?
Bow. Applause. Encore! Encore!

It IS like brain surgery!

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Miscarriage is still an extremely taboo subject in our society and age. Everyone seems to naively believe and convince themselves that it is not that big of a deal to have a baby. Whether planned or not…babies just “happen”. Well, I am here to burst your bubble people.
During the course of my pregnancy I learned of three different people who lost their babies during pregnancy. Over these short 20 weeks, 3 different people I know had heartbreaking, unsuccessful pregnancies. That is a scary a scary fact.
So I will probably unleash all my pregnancy hormones at the next person who tells me that pregnancy is not a sickness and having a baby isn’t exactly brain surgery. Coz it freaking is!
Within the span of the 40 weeks of pregnancy a woman can find herself facing all sorts of demons, from an ectopic pregnancy, to an infection or having a premature baby that doesn’t survive. So damn it, have a little more sensitively please! I’ve had people actually tell me “there is no reason you cannot do that, you are pregnant- not sick”.
Well, I hardly think that doing something while having the flue can mount up to carrying out the same task while your blood pressure is low, your lower back is screaming in agony, dizzy spells reoccur and you hyperventilate after walking for just 3 minutes!
I’ve had the most difficult time accepting that I am pregnant and allowing myself to be “happy” about it because I know that anything can happen along the way. When a friend with the exact same due date lost her baby at just 13 weeks, I was petrified. Alex kept telling me not to worry and that it will not happen to us, well I didn’t think my friends thought it would happen to them either?! It’s not something you even dare think about.
So dear insensitive bastards (you know who you are) show a little more compassion when you meet a pregnant lady. Offer to help her out, open a car door for her or even take over some tasks so that she can go and take a nap. If your mommy didn’t take care of herself and act like pregnancy IS a big deal…you probably wouldn’t be reading this now.

I am 170 years old

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This could turn out to be a raving/raging post (yet again) about hospitals in Oman but because I currently lack the energy to be angry…I shall refrain from typing in CAPS and cursing after every second word.
A disclaimer: a first-time expectant mother will worry about every little thing that doesn’t “feel right”. She does not necessarily need to be in agonizing pain or in a life threatening situation to be rushed to the hospital. Sometimes a light fever and consecutive dizzy spells are all that’s needed to seek medical attention.
So there I am (at work-that’s where) on Wednesday morning when all of a sudden I begin to feel a little feverish and simply “off”.  I also had a few other symptoms that should solemnly remain between me and doctor so that half the world is not grossed out.  After fighting the sinking feeling that maybe this isn’t simple fatigue I caved and called a fellow doctor- who in turn told me to go to the nearest clinic and get checked out “just to be on the safe side”.
I seriously told my superior I will be back in an hour because I am going for a quick check up. (I should have said Inshallah at this point.) Alex picked me up and we went to the nearest clinic as suggested, the closest one being Al Raffah where I am currently registered. On my way there I kept on calling the operator to make sure there is a gyno there I could see. No one picked up. I called about 8 different times. Yes I had the right number- they just didn’t pick up!
As we stormed the lobby of Al Raffah hospital we soon came to learn that there was no gyno on call and my doctor would not be available until 6pm. Because…you know…doctors work in shifts.  Apparently it is perfectly acceptable not to have a doctor there for 6 hours at a time!!! They only had a GP- which would have helped if I had a bruise or maybe a sore throat…
Suppressing our anger we drove to the closest hospital from Al Raffah- Muscat Private Hospital. Again, I called them on the way there the operator picked up (Hooray??!!) but the line quickly died when she was transferring me to the “correct” department. Ugh.
I quickly felt like I was having the most surreal déjà vu of my life when we learned that they too did not have a gyno on call because “the entire department was attending a lecture and will only be back in a couple of hours”.  Now, please note that both of the above hospitals have DELIVERY WARDS and possibly women going into labor that very instant- but who gives a monkey’s I guess?
I began to feel quite anxious as by that point in time all sorts of nasty scenarios regarding the baby’s health ran through my mind. We did the only thing we could think of. We drove to Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.  FIY (if you aren’t local) that hospital is 45 minutes away. Make that 1h and 25 minutes when you are driving there at 2:30pm just as about everybody in Muscat is leaving work and heading home.
Keeping a long story short- we finally found ourselves registering at the Accidents and we Emergencies department of SQUH and they quickly send me to get my blood pressure and temp measured (both were high!). The nurse (an attentive young man) was however very reassuring and told me that he marked my file as urgent so that the Emergency department makes me their priority. An hour and a half later we are still sitting there. Alex is dying for some water. I keep pacing the waiting area (which is divided into male and female sections). I “borrowed” the chair the security guard was using, by the door, and sat on it with Alex standing responsibly by my side. We seriously watched dozens of people come in and leave, leave and come in again…and we were still waiting. They reassured me that this was unusual and the emergency gyno department was having a rather hard day with 3 women coming in with bleedings and what-nots. Now, had I been in any serious pain or god-forbid bleeding, I am fairly certain they would have seen me sooner.  About two hours into our waiting game we began to notice amusing details about the waiting room such as the “Welcome to the Accidents and Emergencies Department” poster- which Alex found hilarious and also the fact that my in-patient bracelet said that I am 170 years old. I thought about telling the doctor that my emergency is “old age” when she asks me what I am in there for.
But other than that when we were finally admitted the doctor was lovely, the nurses were lovely and their approach was absolutely relaxing. Although they did kick daddy out at some point as he was being overly anxious. They did a quick check up, a whole bunch of tests and a quick ultrasound to check the baby’s heartbeat and movements. Everything turned out to be ok at the end.
As we were leaving I received my registration card, neatly typed up to include my admission number, name and get this….”English People” in the nationality field. I laughed at this thinking that now I have a valid document to present to the British Embassy once I apply for my UK passport (because my hospital registration card says I am British- that’s why!). It wasn’t until we paid and received a receipt addressed to an Olga Mubarak (P.S that isn’t my actual last name) that I realized perhaps my dream of obtaining a UK passport might have to be abandoned due to my newly-acquired-obviously-Arab last name.
A little bit of humor can get you a long way.

I am busy being pregnant…

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…at least I wish I could say that I was away from the blog because I was busy buying tiny pink outfits or drawing ponies on the nursery walls. But that wouldn’t be true. It feels like I have no time to be pregnant these days. No, I understand that I am pregnant and the ever growing tummy is a huge (no pun intended) reminder of that but I just don’t have the time to embrace it these days. Perhaps the most “pregnant” thing I do during the day is take my vitamins. Now Alex on the other hand was ready to put the baby bed up about two weeks ago. (Don’t worry, he didn’t).
I am working full time and I think that is to blame for the fact that I sometimes “forget” that I am pregnant. Colleagues are constantly nudging me to stop carrying things or to walk slower and after I give them a puzzled look they say “because you are pregnant, remember?”. Of course I remember! Especially since the almost-daily-deadly migraines have invited themselves into my life! But those are a whole different rant.
I know that I need to slow down and enjoy this time as it is going by so unbelievably fast. We are half way there…we are just half way away from having a little one join our family. It feels like the weeks are flying by. Especially since I am at work pretty much from 8 to 6 everyday and I cannot seem to catch a break when I am home because something always needs doing (like dinner…because people need to eat!!!). Work has taken fancy to evening shifts the last two weeks so I end up going home at 9:30pm for the majority of the working week and only have enough energy to drag myself to the shower and consequently to my pillow.
This is meant to the phase when the baby is able to distinguish voices and sounds so parents are encouraged to speak to the child and begin reading bed time stories and etc. It bothers me somewhat that I cannot seem to find the time (or the energy) to do this as I simply cannot bring myself to take half an hour to “rest”!!! And the truth is, I am very tired. Not in the same way that I was tired during the first trimester when any energy I had was drained out of me and I could physically not manage the simplest tasks. Oh no. The energy is back now and better than ever. I am just pressed for time and a little preoccupied with everything going on at work…so absolutely no time to stop and smell the roses.
I have days when I stop and think that I absolutely cannot do this anymore – juggle work, being pregnant and running the house. Times like these, I begin to feel very sorry for myself and consider taking a few weeks off work or even hiring a housemaid to help me around the house more frequently. I have not even began thinking about maternity leave at this point. Everyone keeps asking if I plan to return to work immediately after the baby is born and the truth is…I have no “plan” yet. I am one of those strange people who immensely enjoy their job on a daily basis so leaving it all behind would literally break my heart. By no means do I underestimate how difficult it is to have a newborn and work full time- I just hope I can find my way around that somehow.
We will just have to wait and see.

Ramadan and me.

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Last year I posted a modest explanation of how life changes around here in the holy month of Ramadan, please read it here. I thought it would be a good idea to shine some light on the traditional and cultural aspect of this month- especially for those reading this back home! This year is an altogether different story because I am pregnant, hormonal and hungry all the freaking time. So my routine has not really been effected by the fact that Muscat has succumbed to the sleepy, slow, quite days of fasting.
Luckily no one in my office fasts (well except one guy who is on his annual leave now) so I have not locked up my snack drawer that is filled with Oreos, almonds, waffles and crackers. I munch away the entire day. We haven’t even moved the water cooler from the room because my Omani colleague said it does not phase him- even when he is fasting. So, we took his word for it.
I am however cautious not to eat or drink anything whilst I am outside (which actually isn’t that often these days). This has proven to be difficult because my pregnant brain is always exploding with one stupid idea or the other, such as “Why don’t you eat a tomatoe while driving from home to work?”.
And as far as silly situations go, my oven ran out of gas while baking a few pizzas at home and had to resort to asking one of my neighbors if I could perhaps use his oven to finish dinner? Now if this happened in the afternoon I don’t think my fasting/Egyptian neighbor would appreciate the smell of two gigantic pizzas bubbling away in his oven…and it would also be virtually impossible to get the gas service to deliver during the day in Ramadan.
Just this Friday me and Is This Serious were getting some much needed shopping therapy in City Center Seeb when we realized that we are frightfully thirsty. I also needed sugar. A chocolate of some kind. We ranted a little in one of the stores and an expat woman overheard us and offered her sympathy.  Except we couldn’t eat it anywhere! As a last resort we bought the goods and headed….to the bathroom. I sat on one of the sinks devouring my Bounty and gulping down my Ice Tea. Seriously, it was sad. I felt a little sorry for my pregnant self. That should teach me stay home till 6pm from now on!
On a more pleasant note I was thrilled to find out that Oman Dive Center still serves beverages and food (not sure about alcohol!?). Alex decided to try out diving this weekend and I was a little worried about him getting a heat stroke or collapsing from dehydration- you know, because there is no food anywhere!!!! It turned out to be fine.
Oh and after we were done with the shopping I sat in my car and ate a freshly baked baguette with some cheese…luckily no one was around. Either way that sandwich was absolutely worth going to jail for.

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