Friday, October 10, 2008

Week 9 & 10: A couple of quiet weeks

Sept 27 – Oct 10, 08

Camping out on the beach was a great way to start a weekend. Bill got up early and went for a very long walk – almost to the next bay. Breakfast was a leisurely affair with good coffee, home-baked cakes and fried eggs!

The surf had improved overnight enough for the surfer boys to go surfing, although the water felt way too cold for me still to even contemplate a swim. Bill also gave it a miss. Our transport back to school arrived early so it easy to pack everything up ready to go home. The plan was to leave the beach before lunch so that we still had most of the weekend free. The trip back was uneventful aside from a noticeable presence of traffic police. We kept passing police cars & although we weren’t stopped we were getting curious about why the increase in their presence. As we got closer to Luanda, the traffic got pretty heavy & the going much slower (we were however moving much faster than the people trying to get out of the city!). We saw yet more traffic policemen standing in the middle of the road, stopping drivers & handing them some kind of leaflet. We were so curious by now, that we got our driver to ask them what they were looking for. The policeman said that they were doing a driver awareness campaign & handed us a bunch of his leaflets. They covered everything from telling drivers of shared taxis to turn their music down for the comfort of their passengers, to don’t overload your motorcycle or car or truck to wearing seatbelts. We shared the posters out – some teachers wanted them for using in class & others, like us, just for a quirky souvenir.

The rest of our weekend was pretty quiet – it had been so nice to get out of the city on Friday – it felt like the weekend lasted forever, but truthfully we were starting to feel pretty tired from the combination of adjusting to a new country, all the travelling we’ve been doing and the teaching. We were happy to just stay in, read a few books & relax.

The weather is getting noticeably hotter, the school gets electricity from the town supply & has diesel generators as a back-up. One generator literally blew up about a month ago, so we have been surviving on one generator for the school. Of course Murphy’s Law applies here too, so since we’ve had only one generator, the town supply has been very erratic & for days on end it has cut out. That leaves the school trying to run on the power supplied by the lone generator. To keep it from being overloaded, we have to keep the air conditioners off. So these last two weeks have been hot with classes in hot & stuffy rooms with no air conditioning at all. The school buildings are well designed with wide eaves so at least we don’t get direct sunlight pouring in, but it has added to the general feeling of fatigue that is becoming more noticeable.

The “normal” 2 day weekend was also very quiet – the only thing we had planned was going into the city on Saturday night for dinner – in a Chinese restaurant that had been recommended to us. It was a bit of a surprise – very red & Chinese (typical restaurant I guess but looking very out of place here). They had a reasonable selection of vegetarian food & the place was very busy (with lots of Chinese eating – always a good sign). The food was very good & the bill (we went with LOTS of money) wasn’t too bad given the prices here. Actually it was a very successful evening & although we just didn’t feel up to staying out & going clubbing with some of the other teachers, (who left the school much later than we did) we felt as if we had done something with our weekend.

Sunday was a cooking day – I found a recipe for soft tortillas on the internet & as we haven’t been able to find anything like that at all so far, we decided to join virtually everyone else here & go into self production. I actually made the tortillas & Bill cooked them & we had Mexican for dinner! Actually the whole weekend was a food treat as on Friday we had lentil soup for the first time here also. This is one of Bill’s most wonderful recipes, but we haven’t been able to get any red lentils. One of the teachers who lives in the city saw some in a shop & bought us a few packets, so that has been a real treat. Of course, when we asked her to get more packets, they were already sold out. We’ve learnt that things come in & then disappear – you just have to grab (& horde) stuff when you see it. Neither of us have ever had cupboards so bulging with dried & canned food, as the hording instinct kicks in real fast!

School keeps us busy during the week & Bill plays soccer with other teachers twice a week after school as well as once with the kids (as coach) also. Wednesday evening was the grudge match as the parents tried to take revenge for the thrashing they received from the teachers last time. They were so desperate to succeed that the “parents” team was re-invented as “parents + big sons who play soccer at school” in an effort to out-run the teachers. Despite a very good start by the teachers (& a stunning goal by Bill), the run-them-off their-feet strategy did work at the end, resulting in a 4-4 tie.

So, that really is pretty much all that happened – we are hanging out for our mid-term break when we fly to Tanzania to spend a week with the boys. Everyone is a bit nervous about how it will go, but the thought of shopping in Johannesburg airport (stocking up on stuff we can’t get here) & then a week on a beach sounds pretty enticing. We can’t wait.

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