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Monday, November 12, 2012

I carved a chicken pumpkin for Halloween

October 2012

I asked my mom to mail me a small mouse trap in early October, because my cat is a little defective and I don't like sharing my snickers bars (I doubt a mouse could appreciate them as much as me). I discovered this when a mouse ran across my floor while I was lesson planning. I promptly got up and went outside to collect Monkey and plopped her on my floor. She idly groomed herself and after a few minutes she randomly jumped backward, catching the mouse tightly in her mouth. I cheered silently and opened my door. Monkey carried her prize out into the living room to torture it. I still have no idea if she ever intended to kill it. Why you ask? Because she let it get away... She may be defective in killing mice, but she's very good at beheading lizards  and eating the legs off cockroaches. Yes, she is a rather strange cat.

As soon I returned from my trip to the states, Liberians in my community noticed my extra six pounds I'd packed on (I swear that four pounds alone came directly from the Minnesota State Fair. Curse you Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar!). And all of them stopped to say “Leela, you got fat.” or “Leela, you getting fat-o.” And while this may be horridly insulting to you and I, it's a compliment here. If you're fat, it means that you are healthy and have money to 'pad your sides' so to speak. But even knowing this did not help me accept my new six pounds. Rachel can attest to the fact that I got a little annoyed on the subject and sensitive.
After school one Wednesday, I came home tired, sweaty and hungry, and right off the bat my landlady Fumatta starts harassing me. “Leela, bring the generator!” Keep in mind I'd rather be eating right now. She calls for me again and I grumpily snap back that I'm coming and that she didn't let me sit down to rest small. I carry the generator over and wheedle an apology out of her. She now feels bad that she upset me and goes for a compliment to help her case. “Leela, you getting fat.” I glare slightly and head home to eat (at least all the fat comments aren't keeping me from my cassava leaf soup).

Naw wei is living life on chain these days. So so women business, and he can't sit down. Also as my neighbors would say “He like fighting business too much”. And so to prevent a lost eye or an artery rupture I don't have equipment or skill to mend, he is now training for stateside living...where there are rules and leash laws. He's adapted rather well and I now take him on a long hour and a half walk every morning at 6am (now I wake up before the chickens do). I'm still expanding his various dog tricks list. So if you have any ideas for cool tricks, let me know. He and I have enough spare time to master them. As of right now, he knows over 14 different ones. And so, Naw wei, the talented, charming rouge dog who seems to woo so many ladies is done roaming. Don't be mistaken though, that does not effect his sex life that much. Yeah... awkward for me when I'm trying to read on the porch.

In October I learned that guava is not just a mystical flavor conjured up for juices and sherberts, it's a real fruit! (okay, I already knew that, but I don't think I'd ever had a guava before and I certainly never had one that tasted as amazing as these here in Liberia. Rachel and I have a new friend Andrews who brings us fresh fruit such as guava, orange, and tangerines. He tends to bring us a lot of fruit too. And then we ponder how we will eat it all or who we can share it with. And we joke that we could start a new dieting plan. The Andrews Diet: the consumption of only food brought by Andrews. I'm not complaining, I know I'm getting my vitamin C in.

I taught my 9th grade class how to fold model airplanes after they enjoyed the one I made to demonstrate the vocabulary word 'model'. Sometimes I wonder what my school's administration thinks of some of these things. I don't think my style would fly in the states (very bad pun intended).

I met with the Chinese again to discuss the school renovation. It's still too slow and they're not working on the outside perimeter or security...which, logically, I would think would be first on the list. So that future work would not get destroyed, and materials would not get stolen. So we'll see if anything happens in the next few weeks and I'll update you again in December.

I would also like to add that these sunflower seeds I'm eating are A-mazing...and dog farts are the most disgusting thing ever. Nothing like a sulfurous dog fart to keep you awake while blogging. Thanks Naw wei.

Oh, and I forgot to tell some of you that I'm visiting the states again in May 2013! My favorite little sister (erm, only sister) is GRADUATING college from Grinnell University (cause she's superfreakingawesome). I could not, would not, miss that for the world. Though I was scarred I would five months ago when I didn't know if I could pay for the ticket or I'd get approval to go. I have approval from peace corps, and with a two thirds contribution from my AMAZING mom and dad *throws confetti* I can go! Planning for this momentous occasion has already begun and we're scoping out tickets. My sister is super happy and excited and my friends should be too. It's only 178 days away! (but who's counting?)

My backyard garden is no more. Left unattended over the summer didn't help too much, and then Fumatta went and tore down the old outhouse next to it and discovered a ginormous pit below it... explains why my garden wasn't really doing so well. There was only a few feet of dirt before you hit concrete. So now, Rachel and I have one pow pow tree (papaya) and a tiger pit (I'm not exaggerating) in our backyard. Too bad we won't be catching any tigers in Liberia. Though I am worried some small child will fall in at some point. Then we'll have to call Lassie. But thus far, only a chicken, cook spoon, and a shoe have fallen in (everything else was intentional garbage). The neighbors are trying to fill the hole with trash, but it will take awhile...it's quite a deep pit. I've decided not to rebuild my garden this year, I'd rather focus on my school more and get my projects there finished up.

Rachel and I attend a weekly Kpelle class to improve our dictation and to expand our vocabulary. Winnie is still teaching (she was teaching me last year) and she's awesome. The Kpelle I was taught in Kakata is very much different from the Kpelle they speak in Bong Mines. I certainly do not need to know my local dialect to communicate here, but I get so much street cred from it. (not to mention I can haggle with the market ladies and gossip with the Ol mas). We'll see how good I can get in one more year. :)

My turtles are no longer mine. They have been gifted to the training grounds at Doe Palace in Kakata. They were evicted after escaping too much and pooping all over the house. Not to mention that two turtles, a cat and a dog is quite a lot to care for and still do other things. Vince deemed my turtles the Doe Palace turtles and I think one is still there and alive. But it's only a matter of time before the guards sneak them out and make them into turtle soup. They are common to eat here and I've been told they are 'sweet' though I've never tried turtle.

I've been reading so so books since getting back. I burnt through all the Hunger Games books in less than a week, and a cool werewolf book sent by my love, Ashley Kaluza, and now I'm reading Plastic Ocean. If you have not read it...do. Now. Minimize my blog page (because I do still want you to read my blog) and find Plastic Ocean on Amazon or B&N, put it on your kindle or nook and read it....it will blow your mind and shed light on things we know are happening, but don't fully realize the effect and massive scale. Okay, if you've got it downloaded you can go ahead and finish reading my awesome blog.

I don't think Rachel thought she heard me right when I stood in the entrance way of our porch with a befuddled look on my face and said “there is a mouse in the flush bucket”. Yes...in the flush bucket. What is the flush bucket? It's a small purple bucket next to the toilet that holds 'used' soapy water from hand washings or baths to be used to flush the toilet with. So, why the hell is there a mouse swimming in it? I still don't have an answer to that, I'm still getting over the shock of seeing it there while sitting on the toilet, zoning out, taking my time. It was rather terrifying especially since I didn't know what that frantic swimming object next to me was. But not too much fazes me much these days. Even soapy water swimming mice. I did dump him out in the backyard and Monkey spotted him right away. This wasn't a very good day for this little mouse.
And while were on the topic of surprising critters, I got a major surprise while chilling on my bed talking on the phone to Eric late one night. My headlamp was off and we were probably talking about food (one of my favorite topics) when something crawled up my right arm toward my hand and phone. Of course I screamed like a girl and threw the phone. Something CRAWLED up my arm! In the holey sanctions of my mosquito net bed. The one place in my house where critters are not allowed. I found the phone in the dark and told Eric I'd call him back after I found whatever it was. I wouldn't be able to sleep if I didn't. I located my headlamp and searched the bed for the invader. I found him soon enough, a quarter-sized spider (on the small side for African spiders). I swept him from my bed and used Naw wei's paw to squish him. Naw wei was asleep and didn't even care. I double checked that my mosquito net was well tucked in that night and I fell asleep surprisingly well. I must be getting used to this kinda stuff.

And now, here a random collection of funny things or new bits that are not long enough or interesting enough to get their own paragraph in my blog. :) They're still worth reading though! ~October 28th was the day I saw a Hunger Games movie poster hanging outside the video club in Bong Mines. That's right, the Hunger Games are here too, and I only have to pay 14 cents to see it. ~ I bought a pumpkin to carve for Halloween in the market. Everyone was all “Leela's going to cook pumpkin!”. You should have seen Emmanuel and Mary's horror-struck faces when I carved it out and 'threw away' (aka gave to the neighbors) the insides (I did fry the seeds up though). ~ I set up BioGas digestors with my 11th grade class as we finished up the period on bacteria. I'm not sure what was more fun: instructing which students would bring poop to class, or watching three quarters of the class scuttle to the back of the class when I added the poop to the chambers. ~ In an attempt to keep my 9th graders awake and entertained while studying the reproductive system, we took to yelling our new vocabulary words as loud as possible. How many times does your teacher actually instruct you to yell penis in class? ~ I found a ear of corn for sale on the road that was a great example of co-dominance with it's yellow, purple and mixed kernels. I bought it to use later in my 11th grade when we get to genetics. But to keep it safe from the corn munching mice, I actually slept with it to protect it from from consumption. Fyi they're not much for cuddling ~

And lastly, I actually made a twitter account (I never thought I'd get into tweeting). But when I discovered I could send tweets via SMS on my cell phone and didn't need internet or a laptop, I was sold. I still can't read any replies to my tweets but I can tweet from a bush taxi in the middle of nowhere with a cell phone and at least one signal bar. Follow @StephieShark for a mini-blog version of life here in Liberia. Don't worry, my tweets have the same quality humor as this blog. You won't be disappointed.

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