Saturday, 27 October 2012


So I've made it to Half-Term. On the whole I'm still smiling. Not enjoying the increased power-cuts and eratic internet access. Which might be attributed to rainy season or fibre-optic cable down in Tanzania.
Major achievement of the week - Parents Evenings. I had worried that parents in another culture might be too different for me to communicate with. But just like the children they are very similar to British parents. It was interesting however, working with a translator in some of the interviews. Had to chose my words very carefully.
Last day of Half-Term I introduced my class to 'Golden Time', they thought it was great. Couldn't quite believe they had 15 mins to do what they liked.

First two days of holiday spent producing wedding invitations with my housemate. They needed to be sent off on the bus to Uganda this morning. So last night we discovered the joys of working by candle light. Not sure how 'rustic' they are going to look in day light, but we managed to produce 135!
Hopefully through Half-term internet access will improve! I am at present discovering the joys an internet Cafe! It's very posh and full of Muzungu's !!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Bank Holiday Monday - Burundi style!

It's obviously a world-wide rule that it rains on holiday Mondays. The day started with a thunder storm. But big bonus the scheduled electricity cut at 7am, didn't start until 7:45am.

Next universal principle with holiday Mondays - everywhere we wanted to visit in town was shut!!and we kept being surprised by the fact, even though we knew it was a holiday.
Had lunch in a very nice Ugandan restuarant, that was suffering from no electricity and a broken generator. My first taste of chicken in 7weeks. Unfortunately, I didn't recognise it as chicken. It was the colour of duck but not the flavour. Pigeon? maybe?

Finally a typical Bank holiday Monday purchase. A large multi-coloured umbrella from the Central market. It is rainy season after all. Then back home on the usual cramped, rickety bus.
Major milestone for me. I managed to get the bus to stop at our stop. Usually Rachel( house mate/USA/26 yrs old) has to do it. It has been a slow process. First getting me to recognise when we are nearly at the stop. Then being able to remember the words I need to say. Finally having the courage to open my mouth and utter the words in front of everyone.  It's taken 7 weeks. I did it. I said, 'Convoyer, Allimentation'. And was rewarded with a lot of good natured chuckles and smiles from all the other passengers. Burundians always find it amusing when a muzungu attempts communication!!
Whole thing rounded off by a pleasant walk home, with a clear view of all the mountains.

It's very faint, but they are the mountains of Congo in the background!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Culture Shock!

Contextualisation first!! - Our school day begins at 7:20am. Which means getting up at 5:30am. Breakfast at 6am. School finishes at 1:15pm. Lunch is 2pm. Therefore, 8 hours between meals. It has taken me many forgettings, grumbly tummies and headaches, to get into a routine of remembering a bottle of water and two small snacks, each day. These can be consumed during the two 15 minute breaks we have in the day.

Culture Shock 1: So this is how it goes. My treasured small container of peanuts is sitting tightly closed on my desk. I leave the room to go and consult with a colleague in an adjacent classroom. I return to my classroom to be met at the door by another colleague, who is happily consuming a handful of MY PEANUTS. She smiles and says, 'Hmmm, nice peanuts!'. My jaw drops.

Culture Shock 2: The Head Teacher visits me late in the school day on Friday to say, it might be a holiday on Monday. It just depends on how the President feels on Sunday night. We wont send a letter out, we'll just wait and see! Also it might be a holiday on Friday, because it might be Eid. but that depends on the visibility of the moon in Niarobi on Thursday night. so again we'll just wait and see.

Sometimes I feel soooo English!!
Culture Shock 3: There is a schedule for the Electricty Black outs. Saturday is an 'On' day and yet today (Saturday) the electricity stayed off until 4:15pm. How rude, to not follow the schedule. Picture above, is of Friday night games by candlelight. Friday is a scheduled 'Off' night, so no problem there!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Great day! The ICT suite at the Junior school finally opened. Caused great excitement to all the students.
Only problem the stools hadn't arrived. Big challenge to my British born Health and Safety obsession. All the students had to carry their big wooden chairs down the stairs. What about a Risk Assessment? Surely the students would need training on 'How to carry a chair safely.'

But  TIA (This is Africa) do you know they all managed to carry to chairs without so much as a bump or scratch. No training, no paperwork, completely unaware of any potential risks!!!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Life begins at 50!

Just past my 50th birthday, learning to 'Blog' from Burundi. Learning to live with all sorts of new wildlife. New language, new diet, new everything........just when  I was beginning to be tempted to feel old!! Even learning to enjoy Blue Band (I remember that from when I was very young!)