Sunday, January 21, 2007

Quick Update

Myspace Mood: Accomplished

I have been a little lean on blogs lately – but I have a good excuse, so let me update you on what's been going on here recently. One of my projects here at the youth center is to upgrade the computing facilities. We got news in early October that American missionaries from another area of GuinĂ©-Bissau were going to be sending a shipping container over by boat and that there was a little extra space we could have. So, in the space of a few days I had ordered a slew of computers and equipment, including everything we needed to network all of the computers at the center to facilitate some things we needed to be able to do in order to teach our computer classes better.

We expected the container to arrive in Bissau in late November, which was perfect because installing of this new stuff was going to be a pretty substantial project (especially with inexperienced helpers), and we have a break from classes for three weeks in December. The container arrived in mid-December and was tied up in customs until Jan. 4th. So, the last two weeks have been spent feverishly trying to get everything installed so that we can get back to the already large job of curriculum development that was scheduled for January. The project has been made more difficult by the fact that the work has to be done without interrupting the typing students that are using the system from 9am to 10pm with a small window in the afternoon where we can work without having to worry about disturbing them. So my typical day since the container got here two weeks ago has been to go to the internet cafe at 7:45 before staff meeting to try to find answers to the problems we ran into the day before, working from 8:30 to 1, breaking for lunch, working from 2 to 8 or 8:30, going home exhausted, and waking up the next morning to do it all over again. It's been tiring and it feels like we've been doing this for a month instead of just over two weeks, but when I look back at all that we've accomplished I'm kind of amazed, especially by African standards – because things happen here s-l-o-w-l-y. (I know I've written about this aspect of life here before, but just by way of another example, it took me a whole morning to find and buy some plain old metal washers we needed for installing wiring conduit on the wall – and even then I had to pay twice the price because of the color of my skin!)

Fortunately, we are now closing in on the end of the installation/networking project, so now we can get back to the work we were actually supposed to be doing in January – preparing new classes for February! The next few weeks are going to be busy, but shouldn't be as crushing as the last. We're here to get work done anyway!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

African Tamaguchi

Myspace Mood: Irritated

Do you remember the Tamaguchi craze a while back? (The little digital things that had a "pet" on the screen?) I never had one, but I can see how people liked having a little thing to take care of and help grow. Well, in Africa now that it's the dry season, we have something just like that: Mango Worms! The mango trees are pollinating right now (the trees are everywhere), and apparently there are little worms that hang on them and sometimes fall to the ground. Em and I found out the hard way that sometimes they decide to burrow into your foot, and boom! – you have your own pet to feed and help grow! :)

We were getting these weird little swollen blisters on our feet that had a black spot in the middle of them. We soaked our feet in salt water, etc., but they wouldn't go away. So finally we asked our teammate about them and she told us about them and that it's really common this time of year. The black spot is actually the worm's head. As you might imagine, Em almost puked when she found out it was a worm, but she immediately convinced herself it was more of a worm bite than an actual worm. :) Anyway, they're pretty easy to dig out once you know how so I think we're both set now.

(Pictures were omitted on purpose for your benefit...)