Friday, August 31, 2007

Photo Updtae from Tweeling

We’ve been Tweeling-bound for most of August, while we were driving a very undependable rental car. We’ve now bought Darren and Karen Peterson’s car, the other American Fulbright teachers who left for home last week, so have big plans for September, but wanted to use this opportunity to share a few photos from the last few weeks in Tweeling.

The undependable rental car (1996 Volkswagen Fox) had to be washed before we returned it, after living in the driveway for 4 weeks (rather than test our luck again with a rental car company). Car washing in Tweeling is a big event and almost always draws spectators and assistants. In fact, the neighborhood kids offer to wash the car just for something to do (they asked if they could wash the new car the day that we drove it home, when it was still shiny from the kids who had washed it for Darren and Karen) and are surprised when we buy them Cokes for doing it.

This car was clean long before it was finished being washed.

Kate thought that Andy would get a lot of attention for carrying Tshegofatso around African-style, but he said that noone said a thing. Apparently he’s fitting in very well... Tshegofatso is making an impressive go at talking, learning Sesotho, Zulu, and English all at the same time (“Hi,” “Bye,” “Katie,” and “Andy” are some of his favorites).

Ever since our American visitors, there is always someone wearing either an I Love New York shirt or a Cleveland (they call it “Cleverland”) t-shirt.

Kids playing on their favorite “jungle gym” in their Cleveland shirts.

About once a month, Refeng-Thabo hosts “Own Clothes Day,” where the students can pay 1 Rand (about 20 cents) to wear their own clothes instead of their uniforms. It’s a big money-maker, but gets kind of wild.

Everyone wants their picture taken on “Own Clothes Day.”

It’s tough to get much teaching done on “Own Clothes Day” because kids run around school to see what the other kids are wearing. This is what my class looked like, with 15 kids missing and 2 kids visiting from a different class.

I decided to have a go at teaching my 11th grade history class “Hangman,” not actually thinking that they would go for it. Fortunately, I was very wrong and they went bananas over it and even kept playing after the class was over.

My class of 55 9th graders loved it too.

A 10th grade class didn’t have a teacher, so two of the (usually trouble-making) boys decided to entertain themselves by sweeping the school. They came by with an offer to sweep my office, which I accepted, and they did an impressively-thorough job of it.

Kate went ahead and made “Own Clothes Day” even crazier by locking her keys in her office (it was better than when she was almost locked inside her office herself earlier in the year, but still a pain).

The same boys made a broom-handle-tool with a wire-hook end that they spent break throwing through the gated door of the office until they came up, victoriously, with the keys.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What's Cooking in Tweeling

We get together with the Motales for a “Big Dinner,” which is exactly what it sounds like, at least once a week. It started out as a part of Wednesday night soccer night, when the Orlando Pirates, the Motales’ favorite soccer team, plays. In the soccer off season, though, the event has taken place whenever we declare it time for a “Big Dinner.” Someone in the family will suggest a Big Dinner for the upcoming week, the motion is immediately seconded, and plans are made. When it’s time for a Really Big Dinner, a representative will be sent to buy a chicken at the farm.

In this picture, Kagiso and Ntefeling ham it up while working on side dishes.

There were several Big Dinners when we had our American visitors. We recently told Kagiso that our parents were coming to visit in September. His response: “Oooh, there will be LOTS of Big Dinners!”

All members of the family help out when it’s time to prepare a Big Dinner.

The strike left Kate with loads of free time and dependable internet access, so she started getting creative with the online recipe websites. The results were impressive, attracting attention from all over the neighborhood. The neighborhood kids are big fans of my banana bread (they call it banana cake) and the first time that I tried out the new banana bread recipe it was so good that it was stolen right out of our kitchen.

The desserts have, of course, been big hits. There have been requests for Toll House Cookies (people here call them “Cooks”) and the Arizona Daily Star’s brownies (people here call them “Browns).

One thing that we really can't get here in South Africa is Latin American food and I’ve been missing it very much. The second recipe that I tried out was spicy spinach empanadas, which developed serious fans. On Kagiso’s birthday, I asked him what he would like me to make him for dessert, thinking Cooks or Browns. His answer? Empanadas.

Kate taught Kagiso to make empanadas and he started brainstorming on how much he could sell empanadas for.

We hosted “Pizza Night” at 19 7th Street last week, where Kate taught Kagiso and Lerato to make pizza from scratch, including the dough and sauce (despite being Irish, Kate has become very good at making pasta/pizza sauce). The boys spent the rest of the evening trying to keep the rest of the family from devouring their pizzas.

It was a battle that they lost.

Two of Kate’s students, Mapaseka and Malehlohonolo, caught wind of her recent endeavors and wanted to come to the house to try out their skills. The first time that they came to the house we made Cooks, but we happened to have some leftover samosas that they saw in the kitchen. I promised them that next time they came to cook we would make samosas, which we did last week. I gave the girls a samosa for each member of their household and asked the next day if their moms had liked the samosas. Their response: “YEBO!”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Women's Day in the Drakensberg Mountains

South Africa very politely awards a public holiday on August 9th for Women's Day. It's officially a day for remembering the women who struggled against apartheid, but is also celebrated as a day to recognize the contributions of women to the new South Africa.

This year August 9th fell on a Thursday, so the Department of Education celebrated women (at least this one) by giving us Friday the 10th as a school holiday, making the last long weekend of the entire school year.

We made the drive in our second month-long-rental-car (for those of you following the car drama, we are buying Karen and Darren Peterson's car when they return to America on Monday the 20th) to the absolutely beautiful, but very chilly, town of Underberg.

We spent the first day unwinding on a gorgeous hike in Drakensberg National Park, where we saw just a little bit of snow.

The second day we took on an all-day horseback ride through the mountains. The scenery was beautiful, but the day left us very sore.

Our guide taught us how to make the horses run, which was great fun.

On the third day we took the drive up the Sani Pass, the highest road in Africa, into Lesotho. The road is only 20 kilometers long, but took almost 3 hours to get up because it is in impressively-bad condition.

South Africa had to pass a law that only 4-by-4 vehicles may make the trip because so many people had tried it in their Hondas and had to be rescued.

The top of the Sani Pass is the border between South Africa and Lesotho (and home to the highest pub in Africa). On the Lesotho side, we were invited into Alina's rondeval and offered bread that she had just baked.

Most people in very chilly Lesotho live in these round houses (rondevals), which have no electricity or heat. All of the rondevals in Alina's village face North so that they will be warmed by the sun during the day.