October 23, 2011
Well, we have only just begun the 2nd month of spring here in South Africa but today it was 114° F in the shade at our house! It is really weird when you go to pick up a drinking glass on the table and it feels WARM because it is at such a higher temperature than your body temp. Thank goodness people say this is unusually warm for this time of year. Unfortunately, from that statement I surmise that it is not unusually warm for the middle of summer. Maybe we will acclimate but maybe I will end up dumping water on my head (even when I am fully dressed) to keep cool. I’ve done that already today but just once because we have been short of water lately.
There is something wrong with the connection between the town water that comes from a well and the outdoor tap in our front yard. The river is not that far away but we have been told that the Olifant (Lapelle) River is one of (if not the most) polluted river in South Africa. Also Peace Corps has told us to avoid swimming or wading etc. in any fresh water because of a snail larva that will burrow into our bodies and do nasty things we don’t want to have happen. Luckily the problem seems to originate only a couple of hundred meters from the house. So today we went a little further to a neighbor’s house to get water to fill our drinking water (10 gal.) and washing water (60 gal) barrels. The mother of our host family suggested I come and help too - by carrying water on my head the South African way! I got a couple of dish towels and a small bucket and went with her. Richard had a wheel barrow with a couple of jugs in it too. He took a picture of me and our host mother coming back to our yard carrying water on our heads. (See picture with this blog). I look forward to having a “bath” and washing my hair this evening!
We have put the information we got at the Permagarden workshop to good use. We now have 2 new compost piles that are actually getting warm in the middle! – a first for me. I’ve created a seed bed as a nursery from which I will transplant seedlings into the bigger garden. We’ve covered it with branches to keep the direct sun off to minimize water loss. I’ve let most of the rest of the garden go because it had done its thing and been harvested (kale, broccoli, beets, chard, tomatoes) or it never really did much (zucchini, beans, peas, 2nd batch of tomatoes). I have a good carrot bed, dill and basil and a 2nd planting of chard. Those and the seed bed are about all I have water for just now. The rainy season is supposed to be upon us but apparently it started late this year. We had our first significant rain since May or June on Sept.30th and it has only rained 4 or 5 times since then.
We were not allowed to keep the teacher the principal hired but I did not pick up the Grade 7 science class again. I am continuing to enjoy teaching English to the younger students. I have at least sketched out lesson plans until the end of the school year which will be Dec. 9. After that we have 5 ½ weeks of vacation. We are planning a trip with three other PCVs to the Drakensberg Mountains (further south and higher than the ones in our backyard) and Durban (a city on the eastern coast of South Africa) during the break. We hope to take a day trip into Lesotho where we were originally going to be spending our Peace Corps time. We plan to be in a good cell phone reception area Christmas Eve and Christmas so we can call home.