Of course, the big news is that it is Carol Conroy’s eighth birthday.  Always a big event in our lives, it was just as big here.  This is a popular young lady.  She woke up at her birthtime at 8:03 and when she emerged from her room, the entire staff greeted her with a loud Happy Birthday.  We then surprised Carol and took her to the school of her new friend Inishee, who was surprised herself.  Although she was not too keen on seeing the principal appear in the doorway while being called up to the front of the classroom, she was thrilled to see Carol there.  The class sang two Happy Birthday songs as they reluctantly put aside their work on synonyms and antonyms to celebrate Carol and ask us anything they wanted to know about America, which was mostly snow.

We then went to uShaka, a vast shopping venue, beach destination and Sea World that boasts of the largest aquarium in the Southern Hemisphere.  We all marveled at the many fish, from the smallest pilot fish to great stingrays, sea turtles and sharks.  Carol and the rest of us delighted in a seal show; she, Freddie and Nholoso were soaked by leaping dolphins and we all played a bit in the Indian Ocean.  What a day!  Stan the Man then treated us to a wonderful dinner.

Now of course,  every eight year old wants phone calls on her birthday.  Away from family and friends, one could hardly expect anything.  But three of our African friends called to talk to her!  Carol is a pretty special kid among a special people.  Thanks for all the comments that came Carol’s way through the blog.  She loves them!

I would also like to give a shout out to my mother Lorraine, who would have turned 75 today.  Like her birthday mate, she could make friends wherever she went.  Grandma Lorrie, as Freddie, Helen and Carol still call her, loved doing what we are doing: exploring new worlds and engaging in people’s lives.  And she loved with a passion that could shrink any city to the intimacy of an African village.  Mom, thanks for a lifetime of inspiration, generosity, humor and justice.  Thanks for giving me the values I strive to live up to everyday.