Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving, windows, and enormous spiders (again) (email from Amy)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone

On Monday I got the glass for the school windows in Otjiwarongo. It was one of the hottest days this year. We drove in the morning and thankfully I got to sit in the seat, not in the back of the bakkie, but it was still unairconditioned and the sun was killer. Unfortunately it was pay day so 20 or 30 people sent the other teachers with their bank cards and we ended up spending a good 2 and a half hours in Outjo doing banking. I bought some cold banana Otjikandala (sour milk and porridge drink) and hung out in the back of the bakkie getting stared at by tourists.

Anyway, we payed for the window glass (the money came from the money that was left over after we paid for the copier) although it looked a little like we'd be in trouble when the shop didn't take credit cards. We went to the bank where they asked for my passport, which I didn't have on me. Luckily my Peace Corps ID has my passport # on it and they took it.

While we were in Otjiwarongo I did a little shopping. I finally got some medicine for my ringworm at a pharmacy there (good strong stuff too.) I also got some groceries and I managed to find some cranberry sauce at the Super SPAAR. It was wretchedly expensive, but oh so worth it. I think I'm going to buy a chicken from one of my neighbors and have a real Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. I also got four new books from Megan. I've already finished Bridget Jones' Diary and when I finish Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which I will this week) I'm going to start on The Sun Also Rises or The Great Gatsby (ooo, I can't wait.)

On the way home it rained like I've never seen it rain. Lightning everywhere and raindrops like golf balls. It was amazing. I still remember the beautiful sunset through the clouds behind the Mopane and Camelthorn Trees.

This week we've had 3-4 guys fixing the windows. One of them is from the school board, but the others are parents of kids who can't paytheir school fees. They are doing this work instead. The school looks so nice with so many unbroken windows. It's strange how you get used to that. I think that will be one of the odd things when I go home for Christmas--unbroken windows. The kids are pretty excited about the school.

So, I marked the English papers writing exam today (they take the reading and short answer test on Friday.) They actually did better than I was expecting. I have been dreading marking those exams because it means reading 2 essays from 78 different learners, some of them are basically unreadable/not in English (I actually get English exams written in Afrikaans or with every other word in Khoekhoe)/random words from the questions copied from the questions without any grammatical connection. Anyway, the number of those exams was smaller than I expected and the marking work went a lot quicker than I thought it would. Some of the exams were pretty amazing. One of my seventh grade boys actually wrote a story with a similar plot to the beginning of Hamlet (well, relatively speaking. He wrote a story about a boy named Okonwo who woke up in the middle of the night to find the ghost of his dead mother telling him that she had been poisoned by his uncle.)

Also, we've been cleaning the library and the giant spiders are back. I've killed a couple of them and removed some webs in the past couple of weeks. I was afraid that I saw a black spider (black means possibly a black button spider--one of the most poisonous spiders in the world) but I think I was seeing things. After they fix the library windows I think I'll buy some deeply poisonous Doom product and fumigate the library. I don't want things breeding in there for the whole month of term break.

Other than that, I've been doing some Chemistry problems to keep myself busy (and to avoid my piles of marking work.) I'll often use it as a reward. When I finish marking 20 or 30 papers I can do another chapter in the Chem. book. It's fun. It's been just horribly horribly hot here; like a sauna. Sometimes, especially when it's humid, the air is so thick that breathing is laborious (I have my inhaler, but it makes me so twitchy that I don't like using it unless it's absolutely necessary.) When it rains (torrential downpours) it's wonderful and cool, but the rest of the time it's terrible. So, that's the news from here. 17 days until I leave for home.

Take care

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