Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A plague of grasshoppers is upon us!!! I woke up yesterday morning to Beautiful green grasshoppers all over my house and many hanging on the curtains. The students told me they like the light.

 Still life with grasshopper

A young girl who was working in my yard came to my door and picked about five of the insects off the curtain then ran away! Rwandans like to fry them and eat them. I think the girl was putting them away somewhere for later use. My front porch looked like a battleground of green legs. Must have been some fight in the night. Then came the big birds. And I mean big. Much bigger than a crow, and fat. They hang around here sometimes, black with a big white collar. I suspect 2-3 of them together could pick up a small baby!! They were after the grasshoppers. The birds were quite threatening in groups of 6 or 7. And if you didn't like the crunch of grasshoppers under your feet, it was just not your day!! My students told me they go away in 3-4 days. Above are the big birds, although they do not look big. I couldn't get any closer w/out making them fly away. Enlarge the photo for a better look.

And how did the grasshoppers get into my house? Easily! These houses have many entry points. The main doors to my house have a space of at least an inch between the bottom of the door and the door frame. Windows up high in my bathroom are open and have no screens. A few other windows have no screens. So, you see, insects have easy entry. That is why the homes are not heated--the heat would all escape. So on a cold night in Byumba one closes things up as tightly as possible, but better yet, wears plenty of warm clothes to bed!! And when I get up in the morning, I put my slippers on immediately so my tootsies don't have to encounter the cold, cement floor.

This is the photo the bride gave me this week. I know I'm a runt, but these are really tall folks! Alphonsine is back at work now, fixing my tea morning and afternoon.

Well, this was the big week of my debut as an ESL teacher. I was kept hopping, but it was an enjoyable week all in all. And I think the students got more than they bargained for!  Of course, first thing Monday morning I taught them a song in English. Over the course of the week, I taught them one more English song and they taught me three songs in Kinyarwanda! We ended the week by learning the old Queen song, "We are the Champions". They loved it--I'm Freddie Mercury and they join in on the chorus!  We did some work also. I assessed each student thinking I would put them into three groups, but in the end I decided to keep them all in one group. They are quite a cohesive group (34 of them) and most of them were right in the middle anyway. There is one small group of women who really don't get much at all. I must figure out what I can do with them.

I will only teach for three days this coming week--Monday through Wed. Then I will head for Kigali Wed. afternoon to prepare for my trip with a group of my colleagues. We will be in a rainforest in the western part of the country for Thursday, Friday, and Sat., returning to Kigali on Sunday. I doubt I'll get to a blog that weekend, but I hope to have lots of photos for you as soon as I can put them up. I will be availing myself of 16 types of primates, lots of rare birds and orchids. I hope I'm up to all the hiking.

Wed. 11/21 is my 70th birthday, so I think the trip away is a great celebration. When I return, I'll have only four more days of my courses.

One more event took place on Friday evening this past week. There was a volleyball game and a football (read, soccer) game between our school and Byumba Polytechnic Institute. The volleyball game was on our playing field behind the school. It was interrupted by a downpour but went on again after the skies cleared. BPI won, although the teams were pretty well matched. Most of the faculty and staff attended, so I went along as well. After the volleyball game we walked about a mile to a regional football field. Our team had just formed, had had no coaching or practice. BPI had a well-practiced team. It was actually a better game than I'd thought it would be and we even scored once--but they beat us. Afterwards we walked back to a restaurant where there were lots of speeches in Kinyarwanda, drinks (the usual Fanta orange, Fanta lemon, Fanta grape, coke, coke's idea of sparkling water, and Sprite--Coke has this part of the planet sewed up tight) and a little snack (brochette, a sort of grilled beef on a stick and cooked bananas).

We're back to no hot water. I'm heating water for an African bath so better get going. I'd love to have a video of me taking an African bath, but don't know who would film it and it would not go on this blog!
It would be a great memento of my African days.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

This blog is getting to be quite a tome! Should I send less frequently?

This will be short like last week. I still have a little prep to do before I begin teaching my classes tomorrow. I took some photos of my desk so you can see where I spend a lot of time. My office is an inside room--I and any visitors must walk through the Administrative Assistant's area to get there. This photo shows you want you see as you walk into the room. I always have a pashmina (on the back of the chair) in the office in case I get cold. The bag on the shelf behind the chair is a new African print bag I use to carry my computer back and forth. If I hadn't brought my own computer, I wouldn't have had one. Most of the offic  computers are in pretty bad shape.

The following shot is of my "tea table". Hot water is prepared for me in the thermos twice a day so I can make tea for myself.

The chair to my desk is not on wheels, so I scrape along the cement floor just like I do in my chairs at home. I had to wait a long time for the green waste basket. I think Rwandans have some sort of thing about trash--they seem not to make any! It is rare to see a waste basket anywhere. I wish I knew where it all went!

When I need a break, I just look out the window. The path out there on which you see a couple of people is the main road into the school and our homes. There's always something interesting going on out there: taxi-motos delivering people to the campus, people walking to and from town or the hospital. The cowherd drives the cows out to pasture down this road. One day this past week I heard a lot of bellowing outside. I could tell it was Clint. Finally I saw the cause. Clint was having his way with a man pushing a wheelbarrow. The man couldn't keep going as Clint was really threatening and "shouting" at him. Finally the cowherd had to use his big stick to get Clint away. Once he could go again, the man and wheelbarrow left in a big hurry. When I told my friend, Jackie, what I saw she said "that cow" can really cause trouble. He likes to go after women, especially. I've never had anything but calm contacts with Clint, but I've always been outside the pen reaching in, or inside the pen with Clint in a stall. Guess I'd better watch him!

I also have a bird story. I know I've mentioned the black and white bird with multiple songs. I know his chirp now and can hear when he is around my area. I always keep my office door open. One day I was at my desk and in walked the bird! He ranged around the office, picked up a few crumbs, and walked out. He had come in the outside door and walked all the way back to me. Later in the day I was in the outer office and saw the bird up on my desk casing out everything there. He is quite tame.

I didn't end up going to an election night sleepover. Two trips into Kigali in one week really messes things up and I had to go down for a meeting on Friday. I set my alarm for 4:30AM my time and watched the remainder of the results come in and Obama's speech. I surely hope he can get some more of his promises realized.

I really must wind this up. I ask all of you to be thinking of me as I start this teaching venture. I am looking forward to being with the students but don't feel 100%  with the content.

Take care, everyone.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Hello, All,

This entry will not be too long. I spent most of last week traveling in Southern and Southwestern Rwanda with Jerome. We were finally finishing up the last of our hospital site visits to conduct interviews. The geography in the South is not much different except that the hills are not as high. On our way from Kigali to Butare, the site of one of the biggest hospitals and where many doctors train, I noticed a lot of goats tethered in peoples' yards. In fact, you couldn't miss the goats as they were mostly tethered very close to the road. Finally, I realized there were a minimum of two goats in every yard and sometimes more. They were every color imaginable and I wanted one of them! Jerome stopped his car once near a small boy who was leading a goat. I got out and went over to see the goat and the boy. The boy looked at me and said "goat". Ah, an English speaker. Soon there were probably 12 little kids surrounding me and a couple of mothers. It doesn't matter where one stops, the kids just appear! When I asked the boy the name of the goat, he said "good" keeping up his English vocabulary! Finally, we needed to keep traveling so I said good-bye to the boy and his goat.

I'll also add another animal story. At the hospital at Butare which is surrounded by a bit of park land, I saw some sort of animal moving quickly. To my delight, they were monkeys just moving around in the park. Several mothers and babies, with one baby crying out ever louder and louder to it's mother till she stopped and nursed it. I should see lots of monkeys in Nyungwe National Park where I'll be going at Thanksgiving. Can't wait for that.

Still haven't decided whether to go to one of the election night sleepovers. The U.S. Embassy is also hosting breakfast at 5AM Wed. so people can watch the coverage. All this depends on how I can arrange my transportation.

I've gotten some new leads on materials for my ESL class. I'll be spending tomorrow trying to trace them down. Jerome dropped me off at a book store in Kigali so I could see if I could find magazines there. Everything was in French!! Can you imagine Time Magazine translated into French? They also had a great spread of office supplies, something I've seen no where else. Our school here barely has paper for the printer and when I asked for paper clips they were given to me one by one! I finally bought myself some lined paper and a clipboard. In addition to the ESL class, I will be teaching a course called "Communications". Sounds like they belong together. I still have to find out exactly what it's about. At the bookstore I also bought a couple of issues of the International Herald Tribune--the first newspaper I'd read since landing in Rwanda. I devoured them!

I've had a very quiet weekend, which was fine with me after the week on the road. I do have to confess to a weakness that got away from me one evening. I decided to open a jar of peanut butter to spread on something. Before I knew it I was dipping right into the jar with a spoon. That peanut butter was really good. Then I remembered the Nutella in the cabinet. I had a couple of spoonsful of Nutella, then decided the two spreads would taste really swell together! And they did! This is what I've been reduced to in my little African home!

Have a great week, Everyone.