It has been a long time since I’ve posted, and I apologize for the delay. Hopefully I’ll get back on track, updating you regularly on my adventures here.
Over the last few months, I have done very little fish farming work. People have been very busy with their maize crops, and don’t have much time or energy for thinking about aquaculture. Last week I did go to a village meeting to talk and ask questions, but that is basically all I’ve done.
I have started to sit under the Meeting Tree every Wednesday afternoon. It is near the school, as much in the center of as much of a town as we have, and it gives me a great way to chat with people as they walk by. My hope is that people will know to come there to find me if they need to ask a question or just want to talk. So far I’ve discussed religion, talked about gardening and fish farming, helped kids with math homework, and laughed at the cow boys trying to do cartwheels. It’s debatable whether it really counts as ‘work’, but sitting under a tree is sure a pleasant way to spend some time.
When I’m not watching the Cowherd Gymnastic Olympics, I’m usually out working in my garden. It is doing very well, and I’m enjoying plenty of zucchini, cucumbers, butternuts, green beans, tomatoes, and basil. I’ve begun to build the next bed, where I plan to plant my cool veggies, like lettuce, peas, and broccoli. It is very slow going, though, with the grass as tall and thick as it is. After a week of solid weeding, I finally managed to clear a 2 x 17 meter strip. Then it took three days of hoeing to turn the topsoil. Now I have several days worth of double digging and amending to do before it will finally be plantable. Good thing I have plenty of time on my hands!
I think that basically covers what I’ve been doing with myself since my last update, so now on to the adorable part of this story. First, on Wednesday of last week I became a grandmother, of quadruplets, no less. My black hen, Kwasiya, hatched out a set of four little black’n’white peeping cottonballs; just in time for Easter. Since I still do not have a chicken coop, the four chicks and mamma have been confined to my insaka, or cooking/chatting pavilion like shelter. I spent a morning covering gaps in the walls with chitenge, setting up food and water, furnishing a nestbox, bringing in bricks for a playground, cutting grass for scratching through, and generally turning my kitchen into a chicken heaven. When I put them in there, all five birds seemed pretty pleased with what they found, so I’m content. I plan to keep them penned for about 8 weeks, until the chicks have real feathers and can keep themselves warm and dry when it rains. I’m determined that all my chicks make it to chickenhood!
My second bit of adorable this week was courtesy of Christetta, the 2 year old girl in my host family. I was sitting on my stoop, coloring with my usual gaggle of children. ‘Tetta is too young to really understand coloring, but she loves to sit or stand on my lap. Sometimes we play jumping games, sometimes we make silly faces, and sometimes (rarely) we sit quietly and watch everybody else scrabbling for markers. This day she was standing on my lap and we were babbling to each other, not understanding anything the other was saying (her in Lenje, me in English). Every once in a while she would gently bonk her forehead against mine, and we’d laugh and laugh. Suddenly, she stopped talking and got a very serious expression on her face. She leaned forward, paused, and kissed my nose. Then, as my heart was melting like ice cream on hot tarmac, she bounced off my lap and trotted away. It was just about the sweetest thing in the entire world, and one of the best moments of my Peace Corps service so far.
So there you have it, your daily dose of “Aww…” I hope it gave you a warm fuzzy feeling. And, for the record, I’m smiling just telling you about it.