Saturday, November 25, 2006

Marking, a Thanksgiving cheeseburger, and yet again with the spiders

Hello All,
It's been a long week. The windows are almost done (the kids were cleaning them with newspaper this morning.) And I have done an enormous amount of marking. I am basically done with my marks in grade 6A and 7 English (except for one or two kids who are missing some work that I'm still hoping is going to come in) and I'm about half done with my marks for grade 6B English. By Tuesday I think I'll be done or almost done with all the marking. That's the day of the principals farewell party too. My grade 7s did really well on their English exams. Only 7 of them failed (trust me, an 80% pass rate is really good) and the highest marks were 61.5 out of 75, which according to the grading scale here is an A, which is almost unheard of.

It was a good Thanksgiving, although I spent the first half of the day invigilating exams and marking learner's work. I couldn't get a chicken for Thanksgiving (which is kind of ironic because right now there are several probably eating bugs in my flowers.) Apparently people here usually coop up a chicken for a week or two before they eat it and they were quite disparaging about me eating it without that quarantine period. So instead I made myself a big bacon cheeseburger with the last of my mince. Nothing like a cheeseburger, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and canned mealies on Thanksgiving. It was a strange meal, but I was deeply thankful for it. When it you run out of good fresh food as often as I do, it's nice to have a big feast, even if it's only for one. It was a little strange thinking about Thanksgiving here. For one thing, the word and idea "colony" means something totally different, and somewhat malevolent, here. Anyway, unlike Halloween or some other American holidays, I think that it is one that would work in Namibia. I am abnormally thankful for good food this Thanksgiving. No one in Anker is starving, but I've seen quite a bit of malnourishment. There are about four kids in my Grade 6B class who I'd really like to force feed vitamins from my med kit because they are so small and undernourished (although, considering the fact that I think I was vitamin deficient earlier this term, perhaps I'd better concentrate on taking them myself.) There was a passage in the reading exam about how to make biscuits for your dog with mealie pap, bananas, and biltong (dried meat.) And several of my learners were actually very angry and wrote about how it was not good to give things like that to the dog. I have learned how much I truly have to be thankful for over this year, and I've learned some of how much I have taken for granted. Even if it was celebrated by eating a cheeseburger under my mosquito net while watching "The Bourne Identity," over all I think that I caught the spirit of Thanksgiving this year.

I know I've written a lot about spiders lately, but it's because the rains have come and the spiders are everywhere. I found out that, unfortunately, I was not mistaken about seeing that black spider in the library (in addition to the hoards and hoards of enormous tan ones that are, comparatively speaking, mostly harmless.) I sent six kids to the library and as we were getting ready to clean it we realized that there was a lovely web with a black spider with a yellow and red body on it. Best we can figure from the massively unhelpful Guide to Spiders and Scorpions in Southern Africa, it was probably a brown button spider; not as poisonous as it's black button cousin (i.e. it probably won't kill you) but still neurotoxic and potent enough to probably send you to the hospital (which, by the way, is about 300K away in Otjiwarongo. If I got bitten they would probably have to send a helicopter to get me. I don't even want to think about what would happen if one of my kids got bitten.) We ended up killing it with the end of a very long stick and I am hoping there are no more where that came from.

They just finished fixing the windows in the library and once they are dry (hopefully soon) I'm definitely going to fill the place with strong arachno-toxic chemicals of the Doom variety (motto---deadly killing action.)

OK, that's all I can think of to say right now. Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and are enjoying the beginning of the Christmas season.

Lots of love,
Amy (14 days until I leave for America, not like I'm counting or anything!)

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