New site & Drakensbergs

New site & Drakensbergs
These are the mts from our village

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Season in South Africa

December 14, 2011
Another PCV in our group forwarded a very interesting article written by a recently returned PCV from Africa. The title “What The Peace Corps Taught Me About Failure” sounds negative but it is actually a very positive article and reflects some of the things I have felt working here in South Africa” Here is a link -

The weather here has continued to alternate between sunny days with highs over 110°F to cloudy days in the 80sor 90s.  Luckily the sunny days are usually low humidity.  I’ve been so busy at school that I haven’t had as much time to work in the garden.  The first plantings are more or less done (still getting some Swiss chard from the first planting) and the carrots I planted are now big enough to eat and pretty sweet.  I was surprised how big one was that I pulled up the other day.  New tomatoes about to flower, a second crop of dill and basil.  Richard found a rosemary plant that is doing well and I found some mint to transplant at a backpackers we stayed at on Halloween.  It’s good to have fresh herbs again.
In June Richard made a video of our house at his daughter’s request.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to post a link on here before but here it is:
Richard says “we” made the peg boards and shelves but it was a generous “we”.  I stacked the bricks and boards.  He did all the rest.  We have found we can be very comfortable in a much smaller space that we would have thought.  It makes those American mega-mansions seem all the more outrageous. The calendar on the wall is a Monhegan calendar (Mongegan is an island off the coast of Maine - one of our favorite places on earth).  We have already ordered one for 2012 to help us remember New England – especially when it is so HOT here.
The school year is over.  The last few weeks were very hectic.  I was told the Foundation Phase (grades R (think kindergarten) through 3) would be meeting regular classes through the last week of the term so I planned my lessons accordingly.  But once testing was finished, teaching stopped and many of the learners didn’t even come to school so I had trouble getting them all the cards in the alphabet sets.  I will give the ones who didn’t get their set to those learners next year when school starts again.
I was asked to help enter grades into the new data base all South African schools are now required to use.  I was surprised to see that the grades from the Grade 7 science exam I taught material for 3 days for and graded had been changed so that many more than 3 learners passed – almost ¾ of them now had passing grades.  When I asked about it, I was told the Principal had allowed them to retake the test. (?) The grades for ones who passed originally hadn’t been changed – so I guess they didn’t retake it (?)
Yea! The water situation at our house has been fixed and we are now back to original status which is that the water comes on at a tap in our yard 2-3 times a week for an hour or two.  The pressure is strong enough to fill all our compounds barrels and sometimes there is some left to put in the “dam” (black plastic tank) for the garden.  Richard doesn’t have to go fetch it in the wheelbarrow.
We are in Pretoria about to set off on an adventure to the Drackensburg Mountains for six days.  We are staying at two different backbpakers – one is right near the border with Lesoto (where we were supposed to be posted).  Then we go to Durban, a city on the Indian Ocean.  School doesn’t start again until mid-January.  Then in February my son, Adam, is coming and treating us to a 3-day safari in Kruger National Park.  For many reasons, I am very glad we are here in the Peace Corps in South Africa.  The saying “The hardest job you’ll ever love.” is true.
Merry Christmas!!!