Friday, August 22, 2008

Week 3: School starts

Sat Aug 16 – 22; 08

This was our first week of school & not much else has happened for us. On Saturday morning I went with a bunch of women from the school to the “fabric market” to buy some African textiles. (for some reason Bill wasn’t so keen to go)We were warned it was an “unsafe area” so I’m afraid there are no photos. When we got there, it turned out that the market was closed and what was left of it was just out on the “street”. There were only about half a dozen people selling lengths of fabric, and local women were shopping for fabric also (this was no tourist market). I was a little disappointed – Indonesian/Malaysian style batik is all the fashion here, but as I’ve just come from there, its NOT what I wanted. However, there was fabric from the Ivory Coast (the main fabric centre of Africa) so I bought some of that. The fabric comes in 6 meter lengths, two of the ones I bought had contrasting fabric as part of the package (mini versions of the same pattern).
I’m hoping that the quilters out there might be excited by some of these, as I was keeping them in mind as I was buying! They are all very dusty – not suprising considering they were laid out next to the ground!

I have to say that it didn’t feel unsafe, although it was very crowded (it was a general market area) and the sight of the day was a petite woman/girl carrying a HUGE suitcase on her head through the market!

As it has turned out, that was my only excursion of the week – we spent the weekend preparing for classes & the rest of week has gone in a bit of a blur with preparation & just general exhaustion – we’ve been in bed before 10 every night. We get lunches made for us at school, so we have been having lots of salad at night. The TV is finally sorted (we get South African cable) so we have been blobbing while eating dinner. So we have actually now seen some of the Olympics.

I am proud (and somewhat relieved) to say that I have survived 8 lessons of year 5 (nine year olds) maths as well as all my other classes. I’ve never taught kids that young before. The kids are great & Bill also has got great classes. He is teaching the IB chemistry classes, as well as some chemistry & general science to the slightly younger kids. His youngest age group is year 9 which is my oldest year group!

We needed to change our return flight this week & that (of course) wasn’t as simple as making a telephone call. Bill was given this afternoon off to go down to the Ilha to the British airways office to pay for the change in flights and pick up new tickets. It’s the first time he’s been there in the day time - his comment “it ain’t Miami beach” isn’t particularly illuminating as to what it IS like.
Bill says…..
Ok, picture Skelmersdale (a housing project in West Lancashire) 20 years after the nuclear war, with Wimpy just setting up the first Burger Bar on the beach after the zone has been declared “safe” (Note – the landmark for finding the British Airways office was next to Wimpys) At the British Airways place Raul was very cool and assured me the dollar was priced just great for our needs and I (and Mr Francis…obviously my boss) would be well pleased. In fact the printing machine had run out of tickets and the “finance department” was “ out to lunch” that’s Raul’s words. I said “whatever”. Like you do and was assured that the tickets were sorted, any problems would be his and the receipt would be there for me to pick up anytime, “if I forget to take it to the airport”. It cost me 190 US$ but I absolutely know he is right. I have a handwritten note to explain it all to the authorities. Raul is my man. Actually we will go back first chance we get and pick up both our new tickets and the receipt! I’m not going through Luanda airport with a handwritten note!

Tonight we are packing for a camping trip to the National Park –we are optimistically hoping to see some elephants (they were flown in from neighboring countries at great cost after the war to try to restock the park to what it had been). We are going with Jo & Marek & they are bringing the cooking equipment. We don’t quite know what to expect, but it will be great to get out of Luanda again & even better that we may see some large mammals.

So, it feels as if we have been here MUCH longer than 3 weeks, the internet is working really well now (got my fingers crossed so I don’t jinx it) & we are fast settling into what will probably be our weekly routine for the year. We have our apartment cleaned every weekday – which is very nice to come home to. Bill has been able to skype (internet phone) his family, including the boys, so things are looking up. We are so far from the city that it feels quite isolated here – but the 2 minute walk to school each day is a bonus! We have one more full week of school & then the next two weeks will be short as the school (as is the whole country) is closing down for the parliamentary elections – it’s a huge deal for Angola, so maybe you’ll even catch some of it on TV where you live!

1 comment:

Sigal said...

We are moving to Angola this August and need urgently a recomendation about schools in Luanda. I know about the international school but it's terribly expensive.The english school has a waiting list of over 2 years!!!
Can you recommend something else?
thanks Sigal