Monday, June 09, 2008

I´m Not Dead!

Contrary to popular belief I am not dead, nor have I dropped of the face of the earth. I have just been busy at site, and I have my science fair meetings on saturdays, and it´s such a pain to travel 500km round trip to use internet....so with one thing and another I haven´t updated my blog in three months. Oops. Sorry. That is rather apalling, and I shall do my very best not to let it happen again. Especially since itºs so hard to organize/summarize what´s been going on. But I shall try...

Thank Yous are in order to:
Packages-mum and dad, grandma jon and marie, friend marie, caroline, the walshes (it made it after five months!), steve and ann hunt (french-portuguese dictionaries for our library, yay!), dave tammy and emily (book on CD FANTASTIC for sewing), sveta
Letters-mum, connie girl, uliana
Texts-Svet, Cons, Erin
You are all wonderful and amazing keeping me well stocked with goodies and news from home. Many heartfelt thanks...and keep those letters flowing!

So...whatºs been going on....

The first trimester of school went well. The grading killed me, but iºve started getting the hang of it. I just can´t give really ambitious assignments, or if i do, just make it a completion grade...Unfortunately i just can´t give my 10th graders the level of feedback that i would like to. With 130 in each class it´s just backbreaking grading even a simple test. Even writing the grades in my gradebook takes me about half an hour per class.... The first grading period was painful as usual (bitter fights about who is going to pass, with lots of circulating bribes and all sorts of petty behavior) but on the whole not too bad. At the end I even got to go relax at the beach for a few days. I went to stay with Tess, who is a new volunteer in Pemba. She is really cool, and we bonded right away, plus she reminds me a lot of Tammy so she has a nice homey feel to her--a small slice of family in Mozambique. Her house is amazing--electricity, fridge, nice furniture, and even occasionally running water, and is walking distance from the beach. Pretty ideal for a get-away. Alas I didnºt make it into town long enough to get to internet (iºm such a slacker, i know). It was a nice relaxing few days, plus i got to go visit Victoria, who went home to her family. I went and met her parents, and various family members, who were all very nice. She seems to be doing much better, and is supposed to be studying in Pemba once all her transfer paperwork is done, plus she has a job part-time in a restaurant. Her being sick was definitely even more of a bonding experience. Now she calls me mae (mom). I suppose itºs slightly odd that my ´daughter´ only five years younger than me, but thatºs life here!

Science fair meetings are still coming along well. The teachers usually flake out on me, but i have a core group of kids who come every week, theyºre all starting their own projects now, so hopefully we can do the actual Fair in a few weeks, and then in August i´ll take a few of them to the regional fair in Nampula. I try to bring at least something little to show them every week. This week it was a working lung model, other weeks it was pendulums, acid-base, static electricity, friction, conservation of energy, all kinds of really basic concepts that theyºve never seen actual demonstrations of. I like when the other teachers come because then I can bring a physics or chemistry (fisica ou quimica) experiment and they will explain the principles in Portuguese. If they don´t come then I wing it, and draw a lot, and gain random new vocabulary ;) Funny how I can babble on about a lot of things without even thinking, but then I try to talk about some new subject area, and I realize how specialized a lot of my vocabulary is. I can tell you hermaphrodite or hydrosphere but not necessarily something like butterfly (though actually I learned that one last week--borboleta).

Our house is looking rather good these days. Kim got the crazy idea to paint. I was slightly alarmed at being informed that someone would be painting our house the following day, but I rolled with the punches. The kid who painted our living room was wildly enthusiastic and got paint EVERYWHERE, so we decided we should really do at least the trim, and maybe the floors (old Portuguese style, they paint the floor and the first eight or so inches of the walls the same color). Kim was going to do her room, and I was initially resistant to having to move all my furniture, books etc., and generally rearrange my life, but I eventually decided my room would be rather sad if it was the only part of the house not freshly painted. Plus the paint and concrete of my walls had been flaking off in sheets , and certainly could use some attention. So Kim went and bought more paint (they even sell it in Namapa!), and we ended up doing our rooms in Bermuda Blue, which is a rather pretty pale turquoise. Thereºs no turpentine here, so paint gets mixed with….gasoline. Yes, we painted our walls with gasoline. It was a lot of work, but we did a much tidier job, than the kid had. We started on the floors, but Kim had bought the wrong paint….itºs supposed to be some special paint in a dull burgundy color. She bought….glossy….red…fire engine red. So now our house is rather eye popping, especially since half way through they ran out of red and we had to get more, but they couldn´t get more of the same red, even in the city…..so we decided to just go ahead and finish in a different red (more cherry than fire engine…). I felt rather like I was living in a fun house, but it was certainly way better once it dried enough for the furniture to go back, and we put down some of the woven straw mats. The living room is white and red, and our rooms are turquoise and red, which is a bit glaring, but looks rather good with my Japanese prints. Kim also has rainbow curtains in her room, and she says she feels like sheºs living inside a rainbow. To each her own. The best thing about the painting is that it really cut down on the critters. No more lizards running up and down the walls, fewer cockroaches and spiders, and only the crickets seem to have survived in bulk.

My garden is going rather well. The pots on my veranda are bursting with basil, sage, thyme, lettuce, Malabar spinach, plus I have carrots and beets on the way. Every time I throw on a bit of compost I have a hoard of tomatoes sprouting in every direction, and this last time I also got a watermelon (must be taken out now as it is trailing off my veranda) and an ata (breadfruit) tree! Iºm excited about the ata, which I will transplant outside, after which I will have planted from seed an ata, a cashew tree and a mango tree!
My outside garden is also doing well. We have eaten a ton of my volunteer compost tomatoes, and are just about to start having all the tomatoes, peppers, and then eggplants that I started from seed. We had a crop of Chinese cabbage, although someone stole my bok choi, and I´ve harvested the first carrot and the first beet. So exciting. I was rather depressed by our watermelons, which grew hundreds of nice looking watermelons, but even after MONTHS they havn´t ripened—still totally green inside, so iºm not sure what the problem is.

The market has started early this year. We can buy lettuce every week now, and cabbage is just starting (kim was baffled when I told her with great enthusiasm that it was about to appear, but then I made us an asian cole slaw, and she said WOW this is GOOD. Yup….) Oranges and tangerines also started months early this year, and I even got to buy grapefruit once (note that all of these are green, but oh well, you get used to green fruit). My market guys, Julio and Zito, take good care of me and make sure to get the best stuff for me, searching high and low (they buy from other farmers). The other day I didnºt go to the market, but they apparently had my favorite type of bananas (hard to come by), so Julio asked my next door neighbor to take them home for me as a present. So sweet. Itºs so funny how they all know my tastes now-iºve gotten used to people saying They have that kind of X that you like today!

So I am finally in the city. I ran out of ginger and other essentials a while back and itºs been killing me, plus I was way overdue for internet, so I made the trek here. Fortunately Megan is here too this weekend and had booked a room at the nice hotel, so iºm splitting that with her, and can use their lovely internet, take lovely HOT showers, and eat chocolate donuts (literally! Itºs amazing!). This morning I´ll finish my shopping once the shops open, then back to site I go. I´ll be back next month though. Megan and Sarah and I are planning a trip to Malawi in July. We wanted to go to Vic Falls, but with the present turmoil in Zimbabwe, we canºt even to the Zambia side of the border. Sad. I guess it means I just have to come back to Africa. Malawi should be fun though.

What else is new? We got a duck. Although I see Pate and Kim sees Pet. This could be problematic, but we shall see. Other than classes and exhaustive grading, Iºve been reading as usual, and sewing quite a lot (the two books on CD that I had were really fantastic). Now in my 10th grade Iºm teaching evolution, which is fun but a challenge, because I have to overcome quite a lot of preconceptions. Two of my nice Spanish neighbors (Maria and Mar) left, which is sad, but I suppose I canºt expect them to stay forever in Namapa. I still have Manu and Edita though, and theyºre lots of fun. Manu is French, and his mom and grandma came to visit a few weeks ago, so I actually had to remember how to speak French! It was horrible and awful, but I didnºt do tooo badly, and apparently manuºs mom told him my accent is now better than his—it would seem heºs spent too much time living in spain, and now speaks his native language with a Spanish accent, lol.

Yay! The internet just came back on, so I have just enough time to upload this before I rush back to Namapa! I also just bought ginger, so the trip was a success :) Much love to all, and don´t forget to request songs for me at bordercrossings at voa.gov (canºt figure out how to do the at sign on the portuguese keyboard). Will try to get back soon, I promise. Plus you can always text me if youºre not sure iºm alive, or talk to my parents as they call me every week. Tchau tchau, ate a proxima!

1 Comments:

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Yay! Laura's alive and well and on internet!! So good to hear an update from you! Can't wait till you get back!!!

 

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