When we got back from our week + of IST workshops in Pretoria one of the first things I did was go check out my garden. I was right to be concerned about the goats eating my veggies. One or two did munch on some of the kale and broccoli but they were stopped before they devastated the plot. I think all but one plant will recover. Otherwise, the garden was a pleasant surprise- things were growing! - despite the less than exemplary soil. I’m looking into getting it tested. I found out today that there is a service through SA Dept. of Agric. I tried calling the Municipal and Provincial departments but got passed around and finally gave up talking to people who sounded like they didn’t know what I was talking about. I called the Peace Corps office and they gave me the number of the guy who talked to us at PST about permagardens. He said he will text me the contact info for the person at the Dept. of Agric. who can tell me how to get a soil test here. Since we got back we’ve had green beans several times and Richard has convinced me that Swill chard and kale can actually be good if cooked properly (with lots of onions and butter). I planted carrots yesterday and Richard planted peas today. Our house mother has also been planting up a storm. She has a type of SA spinach they have had already and her tomato plants are doing better than mine – maybe tomatoes in 3-4 weeks?!
We are almost at the end of the 3-week school break between Term 2 and Term 3. The first 10 days were taken up with IST and getting back & forth to Pretoria. On the way home we spent the night at a nice “backpakers” – like a youth hostel for all ages. The owner was really nice. He does tours through Kruger Park too. One of the other PC volunteers says he took her and they saw a lot of animals. If my son comes after Christmas maybe we’ll set up something with him. Both Richard and I volunteered to help at the “vacation” school for 12 graders. There were two 2-hour periods for subjects each morning. The first week we were back we had quite a few students but by the middle of the last week of break we had none. This was true not just for us but for all the classes. It was a little frustrating to get to teach physics and help students for a few days and then have nobody show up for the last two classes but I did enjoy the days I did get to work with the high schoolers.
We have also reached the coldest part of winter – which isn’t exactly cold. The lowest it’s been is 6° C which translates to about 43° F. The coldest it’s been inside is about 52° F. We do have a little space heater but we’ve only used it twice in the evenings so far. I think my garden is safe from frost. I’m enjoying the days getting a little longer. I just hope it doesn’t get too hot too fast.
So…school starts again Monday and I have the hectic schedule I put in the last blog entry. If you read it you may have wondered why it said, “Personal Schedule – Mokgadi” at the top when I’m Emily!?! Well, I’m also “Mokgadi”. There is a Peace Corps tradition (at least is SA) to give each volunteer an African name - it is easier for Africans to remember an African name than an American one. My supervisor gave me this one. It is his daughter’s name and means a special girl-child in a family. Most of the people here call me by that name and I am beginning to respond to it as I do when someone says “Emily”.
Richard is going into Hoedspruit tomorrow alone. I’m staying home to have some last quiet time puttering at home and in my garden – maybe even start planning for Monday?! – It’s never too early? Right? He’ll try to follow my directions to get this out on my blog. He may include a video he took of some people on the road outside our house coming back from the river. They had gone to the river for a traditional healing ceremony. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue_7vkn9fIk
Till next time –