So. Many. Eggplants.

We had another day of fertilizing at the farm, this time using Nico’s plan (which we kind of did yesterday, but today it was with permission). Amber got an emergency call from the clinic when we were on our way out the door, so she had to go deliver a baby while we fertilized eggplants. Comparable mornings, I think. I’m pretty sure that she’s delivered like 5 babies since we’ve been here, and she’s now the designated baby deliverer at the clinic because she’s been doing such a good job.

Part of me wonders what the clinic is going to do after Amber leaves. She usually comes home exhausted from running around all day. It’s cool though that they appreciate her and that she’s gotten to experience a lot of different things while working there. It sounds like she’s gotten to be involved with every part of the process, from consultations and paperwork to lab work and treatments.

Naked pancake
Pancake with groundnut butter, sugar, and Milo

At breakfast, I had a pancake breakthrough! We have pancakes every other day for breakfast, but they’re a little different from the ones at home… I don’t think they put anything in them to make them rise, so while the ones at home are kind of bready, the ones here are more flat and sticky. Anyway, people usually put stuff on them. Everyone is different – some people put jam, some put groundnut butter (like peanut butter except from groundnuts instead and without the added sugar), some put sugar. I am in the groundnut butter group, and it’s always tasted fine, but my mom suggested adding sugar on top (thanks Mom!) and it changed EVERYTHING. I also added some Milo (chocolate powder that you can also use to make hot chocolate… which I’ve obviously done even though it’s constantly hot here). I used to like pancake day, but now I LOVE it. I’m also probably going to gain back all of that weight I lost during the first two weeks.

The English test

I went to school in a great mood because of my pancake, and the day kept getting better! We decided to make it test day since it was the second to last day of school, and we tested them on all of the things we’ve been teaching over the last three weeks. In English, I wrote a paragraph and they had to pull out some nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, articles, pronouns, and prepositions. They didn’t do so well individually, but when I guided them through it and we went over it as a class, it was pretty good. We’ll count it as a success.
Nico made the math test, and I decided to have some fun and take it with the kids. We also had some visitors, Maggie and Evans, two people who work with VCO (the volunteer organization). We tested the kids on comparing fractions, shapes, subtraction, multiplication, and writing numbers in word form. They all did well on the test (Maggie and Evans included), so that was encouraging! Just an fyi to everyone though, 40 is spelled forty, not fourty. Common mistake.

Nico and I found a bag of balloons at the volunteer house and decided to use them for the elective. We played a game where we split the class in half, drew a line on the ground in the classroom, and for 45 seconds, the teams had to try to put all of the balloons on the other team’s side of the line. At the end of the time, everyone had to freeze and we counted to see which team had less balloons on their side to decide the winner. It went so much better than I expected. The kids loved it, and we decided to save the balloons to use again tomorrow.

I passed out after lunch, apparently slept through my alarm, and Avy woke me up for dinner. Hm. I guess I’m still not getting enough sleep. Anyway, we went out and bought some snacks for school tomorrow to celebrate the last day of summer school. I can’t believe it’s almost over! Real school starts next week and it’s going to be so weird.

​We had a new task at the farm today! It’s always exciting when we get to do something different, and this time it was putting fertilizer around the eggplants. John showed us how they usually do it, by digging a hole about a finger length from the plant and putting some fertilizer in. Nico immediately disapproved. He said that there are two problems with doing it that way. First, if none of the roots are under the hole you dig, all of the fertilizer is just wasted. Second, if some of the roots ARE under the hole, the fertilizer might be too much for them and they’ll burn. So either way, it’s really not the best thing for the plant. Nico told us to dig more of a U-shaped trench around the stem and put the fertilizer in there. He still wasn’t completely happy with that solution, and we decided that we needed to have a farm meeting later to talk about what to do in the future.

Fertilizer loop

School was also exciting because Nico and I were reunited! Isabel and Sosane took over P2 for me, and I got to move back up to P3/P4! I was happy to be back, but at the same time, I was in the groove of teaching P2. It’s hard to adjust between teaching the different levels because you have to re-learn where the kids are skill-wise and adjust your thinking.
I read the kids a story in English class, and we asked them questions about it to work on reading comprehension. The story was taken from one of their textbooks, but honestly, the writing in the books is so bad that I don’t know how the kids are supposed to learn how to write properly. I read it out loud and modified it as I went so that it would make sense. Besides the numerous grammatical issues, some parts were so unclear that I didn’t understand what they were even trying to say. I wish I could just go through the book with a red pen and correct everything.

Our corn is growing! You can see the rows of little corn plants

The afternoon was spent doing laundry. I think that #1 on my list of things I miss from home is a washing machine. The list really isn’t that long, but laundry definitely makes the cut (also, seat belts, clean fingernails, flush toilets, and recycling). It probably took me 2-3 hours, and I can’t confidently say that any of my clothes are any cleaner than they were when I started. Hooray!
We had our farm meeting after dinner, and Nico presented his case against the single hole fertilizer technique. Joe (the guy in charge of the farm and logistics at the volunteer house) and John agreed to let us use Nico’s U technique instead. Nico also wanted to talk about a new way to use the pig poop (he’s an agricultural engineer, so unlike me he knows something about plants). They’re currently gathering it and using it somewhat, but he wants to dig a new hole for it (aka a new poop pit) and said that theyneed to mix in dry and wet leaves to make it a really good natural fertilizer for the farm. Apparently the soil is already good here, so he thinks that between that and the pig poop mixture, they won’t need to buy fertilizer anymore. They agreed to give it a try which is exciting but also means that we now have to dig a 3m x 3m x 1.5m hole. Things to look forward to! We’ll start Thursday afternoon probably.

Tonight we’re going to a birthday bonfire for one of the guys on the soccer team. It seems like every celebration here involves a bonfire… That’s great and all, but I wish that every bonfire also came with s’mores because seriously, how much better would that be? I should start bringing supplies with me so that when everyone else is drinking their beers, I can be chowing down on toasted marshmallows. Yummm.