Thursday, December 27, 2007

After recovering from biking most of November, I spent December in and out of village, accomplishing very little. I had a brief jaunt down to Lome for doctors’ appointments at the beginning of the month, then convinced myself it was silly to start new projects before the New Year. I’m a great volunteer.

About two weeks ago, I had my first running meeting with maybe 10 kids. Six of them started with me at the primary school, and we picked up others along the way. We ran through village on the national highway, and at someone’s yelled request, the students started singing. The song and our two-line formation deteriorated by the end of the 20 minute run. No one showed up last Saturday, so I just ran alone. I’m going to blame the school holiday on the lack of students and hope it’s not because they changed their minds about running on Saturday mornings. They picked the day.

On the 19th, we celebrated the feast of Tabaski (sheep festival) in village. It’s a Muslim holiday commemorating God giving Abraham a sheep to sacrifice in lieu of his son, Isaac. To celebrate, everyone kills and eats sheep.

I was a little nervous about a sheep-slaughtering festival, but it wasn’t too terrible. I only saw three dying sheep and watched my homologue wash his sheep’s intestines and cut up innards. I visited my market lady friends, and in the evening, I participated in dancing. Yes, this means I danced, but mostly I watched. The next day the chief, in the holiday spirit, gave me something in a black plastic bag. I thought it was more rice and cooked meat, because everyone sends each other food on feast days. I got home, eager to eat the rice for lunch. I opened the bag, and it was full of raw meat. I gave it to my neighbors.

On the 23rd, I biked up to Dapaong. I think it’s about 102k, and I’ve biked from Dapaong to village before, but getting here this time was really difficult. There is a long stretch of barely discernible incline leading to the city, and about five kilometers out, I had to stop and walk. This is very frustrating after pushing my bike up real mountains. But I got here, and Amanda said she’d stopped in the same place. She only had a 40k ride from her village.

Christmas passed without all the usual hype, which may be why it didn’t really feel like Christmas. We exchanged small gifts, made lots of food (bread, lots of desserts, pasta salad, chicken, fries, fruit salad, deviled eggs and crazy Scottish baked things by Helen) and ate it at Paul the Lebanese guy’s house. Helen, Amanda and I intended to go to a 9 p.m. mass on Christmas Eve, but we were in pajamas by 7:00. Then Helen said it would last two hours, so we watched Borat instead.

I begin teaching next week when school starts again. I’ll teach third year English three to four times a week. The books I received from the school director provide less guidance than I expected, so I visited the head of school inspection in Dapaong. He’s going to give me a grammar book before I go back to village. I know correct grammar when I hear and see it (usually), but I doubt I could tell you what the present perfect or past progressive is without reference. So I’m a little nervous about trying to teach it with just a student’s book and a course syllabus. Teaching should make for interesting future updates.

I’m trying to get back to village tomorrow, but that would require me to pack my bags, and I’m very lazy. Maybe I’ll get a burst of energy soon.

Happy New Year to all, and celebrate safely.