Just a short word on the holiday. I decided it was a good opportunity for some cultural exchange. I spent the remaining dregs of my stipend on food for a meal for the Okha family. I went to the grocery store hoping to scrounge together enough for a decent meal. It was a success because I was able to get a turkey and some potatoes for the delicious mash.
I had asked Ohmah if she would help me cook the turkey since I had never cooked one before. When the day came and she had brought out a gigantic pot to presumable boil the turkey in I realized she had never cooked a turkey either. While boiled turkey may have been delicious I felt that roasting it was surer choice. It turns out you just have to turn the oven on and then put the turkey in the oven. I am learning all sorts of life skills out here.
Everything turned out very well. A mix of the traditional American Thanksgiving food, turkey and mashed potatoes, and some South African staples like rice and fried cabbage. It was quite the feast. Family meals aren't really opportunities to bond here. They mostly just sit around the t.v. and eat. I found this bizarre and despite my wanting to sit around a table and eat I didn't feel it was my place to force the family to sit down and talk to each other. Especially since I would not be able to talk with them or understand them.
During this rainy part of the season also come the winds. A couple nights ago was the most awesome wind storm I have ever encountered. A brief stroll through my village will reveal that bricks line the perimeter of most roofs. I always thought this was ugly and somewhat unnecessary. All the roofs are usually, nailed to wooden beams within the house as well, the bricks were overkill. The wind storm last night really made apparent the need of those bricks.
The wind was whipping by at such a rate that it seemed like water was crashing into the side of my house. My roof was being tested at full capacity as all the bricks and debris were scattered around on top. Despite the mortar filled along the top to prevent sand from coming in during such storms, the stressed roof pried open enough to dump plenty of the Kalahari into my room.
I was going through in my head what exactly I would do if I was suddenly without a roof.
Upon waking the next morning, I found that although my roof had made it through the night, not all roofs were as fortunate. Ohmah's husband was a minister before he passed away and had a church across from their house. This church goes mostly unused except for Christmas time when people migrate home from the mines and larger cities to be home with their families. I had initially planned to use this church for after school or even weekend help in school, most likely in science. I would have found it deliciously ironic to be teaching science in the church but I guess God did not like that plan and ripped the roof right off. It didn't have the bricks to hold the roof down, I guess utility beats style when it comes to roofs.
Even worse now, Ohmah feels compelled to use what she has saved for renovations to her own house to fix the church. It is her money to spend but I feel like it would certainly be better spent on her house which 6 people live in now rather than a church which no one uses but maybe once or twice a year. Hopefully she can get money from the churchgoers to put it back on.
So Fresh and So Clean
I have built myself a little shower. A very. very crude shower but I am more proud of it than maybe anything else I have ever made. The novelty of bucket baths had worn off about the second week of use. I just don't feel like I am getting adequately clean in a bath. And now that my hair is growing out again, washing hair is something baths aren't well suited for. Anticipating increasing stinkiness in my life I decided to make a change.
Basically, I sacrificed the bucket I was going to use for my laundry machine for my shower, then used my workout band. The band went largely unused because working got me all sweaty and then I would have to take a bucket bath. I just poked a hole through the bottom of the bucket and inserted the band which also happens to be a rubber tube. I then fill the bucket up with water of appropriate temperature, put it on top of my dresser and voila I have invented the shower. I use less water and feel more clean, truly amazing. I even got a shower curtain to somewhat cut down on water going everywhere. It is more for show since water still gets everywhere but it did with the bucket bath too. I feel my credibility is rising because I am just so much better smelling.
A short word about the end of this integration and my plans for next term. This integration period has been very informative and frustrating. I think overall it is a good call on Peace Corps part to require volunteers to just sit back a while and let everyone get comfortable with each other and for the volunteers to see how they will really function before to many plans are made. I have certainly made some modifications.
I have decided to teach the grade 6 natural science class in both schools. I think it will be a good way for me to feel like I am making a direct impact and keep me busy when other projects require other people to do work. The rest of my time will be divided into community help and general school management. I plan on also teaching some basic computer classes but I am currently in a power struggle with one of the principles on this issue and we will see how it plays out.