Sierra Leone part 6

Saturday, November 6, 2010 – 10:13 pm – listening to Valley of Vision in my room with the lights off, window open, and fan on

Since I last wrote, the Pricer Construction Institute has ended. Well, not quite. The official class time has ended, but on Monday morning we delve into two weeks of putting it into practice by constructing the Themne and Mende primers.

On Thursday after lunch, I taught two sessions: Special Lessons and Finalizing the Primer. Carey Jo would have taken my preparation materials away from me during the lunch break if I hadn’t agreed to go take a rest. Days are very tiring here. On Friday morning, I felt like my head was spinning a bit during class. Not sure why, but nevertheless I stayed at the hotel for the rest of the day after lunch. Gregory and Carey Jo responded to my saying “It wasn’t bad.” with “You don’t want to wait to rest until it is.”

I enjoyed helping grade assignments of filling in the manuscript. I didn’t know what to do before I started, but by the end had learned more about constructing the primer.(I consulted the applicable section of the Primer Construction Manual as I graded.) Nothing like learning it for yourself by grading others’ work!

The pattern for the first few days of the week was clouds rolling in and a heavy rain starting right after we had finished class and returned to the hotel. The weather has gotten less predictable during the last few days. We haven’t had a really heavy rain for two days. Earlier today, the temperature in the hotel restaurant, which is covered but half open around the outside, was 92. Never have I experienced such humidity as here. I am dripping in sweat when I arrive at the training center after walking or riding a bike.

Isaac fixed my shower the other day. I now can fill my bucket with water without having to go to another room. I fill it every day to make sure that I have water to shower with in the morning. He also cleaned my room and replaced my sheets. I was going to move my things to Carey Jo’s room before giving him the key to work on the shower, but wasn’t fast enough. He knocked on the door before breakfast. Then I didn’t feel like I should move my things and didn’t think that it would be a problem with him. He did ask why I didn’t hang things in the closet, and I said that I wanted them to stay dry. He noticed my water pouch hanging from my backpack and I could tell he was really puzzled as to what it was, so I said it was for water. He asked if it was to keep it cool, to which I replied that it wasn’t but that I could carry more water that way. I didn’t want to mention that I have to purify their water before I can drink it. Later, Lori told me that they all understand that we have to have purified water, so I guess it wouldn’t have been a offensive to mention it.

On Thursday, when we were walking back to the hotel from class, I snapped a picture of a group of men pushing a car on the road. They were *not* happy. So I said that I would delete it (which I did, by the way). I need to remember to ask before taking pictures. I may forever be teased by my colleagues for “flirting with jail” or “almost getting us sent to prison” or “having an illegal picture” on account of my snapping pictures of the airport. It’s fun when people ask us to take their picture, which they often do when they see us with our cameras.

Something I’ve noticed here is that people want to hear your answer to “How are you?” One practice is to shake hands and ask how you slept in the morning. People are very cordial.

On Friday, Gregory assigned one biker the task of transporting all of us one-by-one to the center. When it was my turn, he was stopped by what looked to me like a mob. I couldn’t understand what the problem was, but one of them had taken the keys out of the bike. I sternly said “Let him go!” to one of them. Then, another biker with a passenger drove up and appeared to be taking something (money?) out of a bag. Then, the “mob” let us go. When my chauffeur let me off at the center, I asked if he was going to be okay or if they were going to stop him again. He said he would be back. I knew he was going to go get others, but the answer didn’t satisfy. I went to Agnes in the classroom and told her what happened. She said that the bikers have to pay a tax to their organization. How it works I still don’t know, but I hope I don’t have to travel on a bike solo again.

During part of Patty’s desktop publishing session on Friday, I wrote the steps she was explaining on the chalkboard. It seemed to be a help to students who wanted to take notes. We had about 6 computers in the class, so they were able to practice what she was teaching.

This morning, we 5 white people went with Agnes and Stephen to the market. It was unlike any other stressful shopping trip I’ve experienced. The combination of riding motorbikes, dodging vehicles, making sure we stayed together, keeping my bag close, navigating narrow pathways, saying that I wasn’t interested or ignoring shop owners who wanted to sell me something, and sweating profusely was…exhilarating. There was so much western clothing and items being sold. It’s amazing to see the many items that have “Obama” printed on them. I declined the suggestion to buy a jeans skirt with that imprint.

There is a supermarket here that is air-conditioned and carries many of the comforts of home. Interestingly, there are Kit Kats that I’ve never seen elsewhere. They are large candy bars and one kind has a caramel addition and the other has nuts in it. They’re good. We’ve had a couple of evening chocolate meetings in Carey Jo’s room. šŸ™‚ We walked by a cocoa bean shop and the owner broke open a bean for us to taste the inside. It tasted quite good. It was great to have Stephen and Agnes with us because they knew how to deal with the market shop owners. Agnes bargained with the seller of the fabric that I liked to get the price down to 40,000 Leones instead of 45,000. Now we just need to meet with a tailor to decide on a style and then I will have an African outfit!

On Friday, I spent some time in the kitchen talking with some of the ladies. I found out that Mummy’s birthday is on Sunday and that she is a muslim.

This afternoon, we visited the internet cafe. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do very much because the power went out while we were there. The power had gone off at the hotel early today, but came back on this evening.

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