Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Peatastic!

I'm not sure if this is typical 'Blogger' behaviour, but, before I compose a Blog I usually have a little look at the Stats for my Blogspot. As usual the Internet was working at Burundi speed. That means click on an action - go and make a cup of tea- come back - and it might have completed. Well, I couldn't be bothered to move. So, I was sitting staring vacantly at the screen, when to my horror I realised that there was a typo in the title of my last Blog! Januray! Oh the shame of it! I mean, I know there are always mistakes in the text somewhere. I make no claims to producing perfect Blogs. But to have one in the title is really a little bit much. It was a painful few minutes waiting for the computer to whir away, so I could get the post up, and edit the title. A least it's not there any more, even if it is a bit like shutting the stable door....! I think maybe I should start wearing my glasses when working on the laptop!
So it's Wednesday again. I thought I would try and pop out another instalment before February slips through my fingers. Next week is Half-term, but it is perilously close to the end of the month.

Quick insert of a photograph that has taken me ages to 'get'. As I walk to school each day, I often see these two birds in the top of the trees, just near the King's School, Principal's house. For weeks now I have either seen them, but not had my camera or had my camera but not seen them. One day, I had the camera. Saw the birds. Nipped through the gates into the compound of the house. Turned round, and then they very rudely flew off, before I could get the camera out of my bag. But I did it finally. They are Palmnut Vultures or Vulturine Fish Eagles. (I think it's the same bird as the one I put in the last Blog, but I'm impressed, even if you're not). Those trees are very tall and very thin.
 

Here's another one, that really impressed me. Until I read about it in the bird book and was informed that it is a very common bird across Africa. A Hoophoe. That's when I realise, how easily I forget that I am living in Africa!


I really can't Blog without mentioning the catastrophic floods that hit Burundi last week. As I mentioned last time, it had been raining an awful lot. But it was difficult to tell if it really was more than usual. Then on Sunday 9th Feb it rained and rained. There was an enormous storm through the night. A variety of factors came together and caused an enormous amount of water and debris to cascade down the mountain and through the northern suburbs of the city. Whole swathes of houses and buildings were swept away. The death toll rose to over 100. Many had been swept away or crushed by falling houses. I think perhaps for me the story that will stick in my mind is this. My housemate Alli, has been working at giving relief to 60 families that lost their homes. She was in the middle of distributing aid a few days after the flood. When suddenly three women left the aid queue in a hurry. She was told that a message had just come through, of a child's body having been found. Each of the women had lost children that night and each one needed to know if it was their child. I couldn't begin to understand how awful that must be.
It has been really encouraging to be able to channel financial help from Hinckley Baptist church to those 60 families in need. I felt at a loss to know what I personally could do to help. It is a strange thing to be so close to a disaster and yet not affected myself and also feel quite powerless to make any real difference. The only thing I had was some baby vests. It is my practise now when ever I pack my cases after a trip home, to use baby clothes to 'fill the gaps'. My daughters-in-law have left piles of clothes in my room, so I take whatever I can. After Christmas I selected a pile of baby vests. One of the difficulties in giving 'aid' after a disaster, is  when there is not enough of something to go round. When people are desperate, it can lead to rioting and serious problems. So it seemed that maybe my little pile of baby vests was not necessarily a great idea. But Alli decided to take them and hope. She gave a vest to each woman who came her in the queue with a small baby. She got to the very last vest and said to a fellow worker, 'oh dear that's the last one.' To her amazement, it was also the last woman who had a small baby. It was exactly the right number. I'd packed 13 vests and there were 13 small babies needing them.
It struck me that we don't need to do something big. We just need to do the little things and altogether they can become something big.

Well, it is still Wednesday. But not the same Wednesday as mentioned before. It is now a week later. Wednesday of Half term. Having cobbled together lunch for my son and housemate, plus two other 'young people' I am fighting that old person urge, that takes over in the afternoon, the urge to snooze. They are happily playing Monopoly. I traded exemption from the game with washing -up duty.

I thought you all might appreciate a picture from last night's tea. Many Tuesdays find me having tea at the Nahimanas. Here I am free to expose my 'pea' eccentricities. As I have said many times before, peas are a very pleasant vegetable; providing a few clear principles are adhered to. Firstly, they should be a nice, bright, pea green. Certainly not, dull brownish green. Secondly, peas, should always be served in glorious isolation. Never mixed in with anything else. Especially not liquid substances. Thirdly, each pea should be juicy and soft. There should be no hardness or pastiness about a pea. It should be succulent and moist.
I very much appreciate my weekly tea-times with the Nahimanas. There is however, just one small drawback. Tea is generally, beef curry. I like curry. But I don't eat beef, in order to protect my somewhat delicate teeth. So, have curry gravy + rice + chapati. So what's the problem?
The curry gravy always contains a certain amount of peas! Sometimes I am feeling in an extremely mature, set-a-good-example mood and just eat the peas! Yes, I just eat them. It's actually quite awful, because they are really rather nasty when I chew them. But I do it. I eat them. However, there are also weeks when I'm just not in a very mature mood. When the price of setting a good example is just too high. This week was one of those weeks. It's Half term. I'm a teacher on holiday after all. So, I do the opposite to the good example bit. I sit and carefully, pick out every single pea loitering in my curry gravy. And then to make matters even worse, I line them up around the edge of my plate. This week a new record was set. Previously, the furthest I have got around the plate has been just over two thirds. But this week, I managed to pea around the whole of my plate. I did feel entirely vindicated in the end, when Josiah (aged 6), delightedly came and polished off (ate) my pea circle! What really made me feel vindicated was the struggle he had to stab the little blighters, with his fork. They were so hard, they keep shooting off like little bullets. One even had to be retrieved from the floor, having survived the 2 second rule (or is it 5 seconds, or 7 seconds?) anyway it was still edible, according to Josiah. Imagine, how disgusting they would have been to consume! Just in the name of maturity.
 

My final picture, is of my most recent hippo spotting excursion. You will no doubt, quite quickly observe a slight shortage of hippos in the said photograph. Mainly, because there was in actual fact a real shortage of hippos on the excursion. I was reliably informed that there had been hippos at the same venue the day before. Really though when you look at the photograph, who needs hippos? They would just have spoilt it and detracted from the beautiful view. It's the view across Lake Tanganyika to the Congo mountains. That's when I remember, I really am living in Africa.
 

I would also like you to know that this Blog has spanned many prolonged power cuts. There have been points where I have believed it might never actually reach completion within the month of February. But here it is! That last picture took over an hour to download !!!!