November 11, 2012

I’ve Got a Kick-Ass Housekeeper

We had ourselves some rain, and a marathon. No, this picture down below was not taken today, way too sunny. This is from 2003.

Our very first Beirut Marathon, in 2003.
My son's 9, my daughter 10 months old, clearing the finish line at 2:29:23

I’ve run the 10 K ever since the Beirut Marathon came into being, way back in 2003. The first year I ran it with a colleague, a 9 year old son, and a 10 month old baby girl on my back. ‘Running’ may be a bit of an overstatement. I walked. And I’ve walked it ever since (I think I missed it once). These days, the 9 year old son – now 1.85 meter tall – runs on his own, and the baby girl will be 10 this month. She walks the 10K with her little mutt.

Getting to the start line was a bit of an issue

When I went to sign up for the marathon last month, my housekeeper asked if she could join. She’s from Ethiopia, and we communicate in Arabic. Since my Arabic is as poor as hers, it is not always clear if we understand each other. Last year, she was a spectator, and I wasn’t sure if she wanted to come and cheer us on, or whether she wanted to run. But no, I understood well; she wanted to run the marathon. You're sure? I'm sure, she said. So I signed her up with the rest of the family.

Corniche (1K)
Hamra Street (7 K)

I don’t know many Lebanese families that do not have a housekeeper. They come so incredibly cheap! They mainly come from Asia and Africa, with the Filipinos at the high end of the scale, and the Sri Lanki and Nepalese ladies at the bottom. The Filipinos are often very well educated, and speak English, which is a commodity, since many Lebanese use them to raise their children (that’s a bit of a snide remark). I once had a Filipino lady working for me who was a trained marine-biologist, and another one who landed herself a job in the States and now runs her own business in Florida.  
Last year, I hired a lady from Ethiopia. It was her first time out of Ethiopia. 

Down Rue du Rome, 8 K done

And the strange thing is, although we all live in one house, I don’t know much about her. I know she’s from the Wolla district in Ethiopia, that she has a brother, that the family is christian, and that when she went to Lebanon, she thought everyone would be muslim, so she only brought long skirts and long-sleeved shirts. But other than that, I know very little about her. We say hi in the morning, good night in the evening, and that’s about. She works with the old aunt in my house, laughs shyly when we tease the old aunt and she loves our animals. That’s all I can tell you about her.

One more kilometer to go, Weygand Street
But today, I learned something new about her. Something awesome. This lady kicks ass!!  Here we wade, at 8:55 in the morning, trough mud and rain, to the start line of the 10K,  and she sort of hobbles behind my daughter and me (my son had already taken off), and we’re getting wetter and wetter. Then, at 9: 10, when we finally clear the start line, she says, “Can I run?” What do you mean, can you run? You are going to run? Like, not walk, but run? “Yes, run!” Heck, yes, by all means, go run.

And then this girl takes off likes there is no tomorrow! My son sees her pass by at the 5K, tries to keep up with her, but reports that there “was no way on Earth. She’s like a rocket!

Hana and Aragu  Sisay, with medals

We met again at the finish line, some 2 hours later (1:52, to be exact). She with a yellow medal, surrounded by other Ethiopian runners. She says she doesn’t know what time she made, but she was there before my son (1:29). And I am thinking, I don’t know anything about this lady! Without training she just runs 10 K. She says she does this for fun in Ethiopia. I am in awe of her. She's an athlete!
Hubbie says I’ve got to put her in a training program. He wants her to run with the professional runners next year.  

My housekeeper rocks!!

We made it at 1:51:16. Quite an improvement from 9 years ago. 


Anonymous said...

watch out somebody is stealing the dog!

LAMA said...

Wow! Our housekeeper is adorable...she s kenyan and was a grade I teacher in her country...she s 1.94cm tall and she too is an athlete!!! I think they ate so brave cominh here to work

Amin Mansour said...

Hi Sietstke,Just bumped into your website by coincidence. What a lovely accoiunt of Lebanon My father is born Lebanese and my mother Dutch and me and my brother are born and raised in Holland. We go back to the roots now and then and my brother just ran the full marathon this year. He said it was the funniets one he ahad ever run and not only for the wheather. Mostly UNIFIl staff for the full distance I undetsood . I will follwo your site more often Looks very nice. Groet Amin Mansour

Amin Mansour said...

Just see my avalanche of typos. Apologies

Sietske said...

Hi Amin,
zullen we het dan maar in het nederlands doen? Wat leuk!! Mijn huishoudster is inmiddels hard aan het trainen, die gat volgend jaar winnen, hoor!! Koment je ouders nog wel eens hier?