Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valentine's Adventures

Well, it really has been a roller-coaster few weeks! My students are finally settling back into routine after the winter holiday, and new curriculum is pursued with vigor, at least by the teachers. My upper classmen are no fonder of reading than they were in November, but I’m working on them. The seniors are reading Jane Eyre, one of my favorites, and I know they’ll be surprised when Thornfield’s ‘ghost’ is revealed! (Actually, I’m rather counting on it to convince them to finish reading the book.) The eleventh grade is almost finished their final projects on A Streetcar Named Desire, and it was truly amazing to see them read and respond to the play. If you haven’t read Tennessee Williams’ masterwork, do!

But there I go, teacher rambling again. For Valentine’s Day, I took the end of last week off and went to the town of Jinja, situated near the source of the Nile. My boyfriend and I made it an escape weekend, and wandered around the town, enjoying some amazing (and mostly Western,) food. Because of its proximity to a major tourist point, there are some really nice restaurants. My favorite was The Keep CafĂ©, which was decorated by its American owners to look like a medieval castle on the inside. I got chicken wings and an Africanized soft pretzel, and though below par for Philly standards, my companion was thoroughly impressed. I gave him half for his French onion soup, and he enjoyed it.
The View from Our Room

Hotel Pool!

Just Relaxing in the Beautiful Weather

The journey home on Friday was another adventure in itself. After we reached the city we parted ways for our separate homes, and I caught a boda from the mall in town as I have done a zillion times before. Except this fellow turned out to be drunk! He fooled me by being completely normal as I negotiated a price for the ride, but after we were underway for a few minutes he started shouting at every other person in sight. I asked him to stop, and he began swearing. So I told him to stop so I could get off, but he refused. Eventually he had to slow for traffic and I jumped off, though he dove after me, clawing at my jacket and bags. Fortunately, he backed up as I retaliated, punching and striking at his eyes until he moved away. Other motorbike drivers stopped and restrained him long enough for me to get away with another driver, but then the chase began. The drunk ended up running my new boda and I off the road and tipping our bike in the process. I have some very cute bruises and a few scratches, though I count myself very fortunate. The drunken screaming got a dozen other boda drivers to stop, and they said they would drag him to the nearby police barracks. As that progressed, I finally got away, and caught one more boda the rest of the way home. I had been especially nervous because I was carrying my laptop home from the vacation, but it and I wound up fine. Never dull, as my Dad likes to say!

That same night we had our school’s youth group Valentine’s dinner at a local restaurant. The sight was enough to chase any remaining upset completely out of my system. All of the kids were dressed up, many in shades of red. Some had the courage to invite dates, and it was a trip to see the middle school boys nervous. But the older boys were gentleman and offered guidance, and well as being quite chivalrous to their own dates. Much good food was had, pool was played, and some of the kids even got up to dance. At the end of the night, after waiting for parents to come collect their charges (remember, in Africa things happen 1-2 hours later than one intends,) the school’s chaplain and his wife gave me a lift home.

I’ve been using the rest of the weekend to plan for classes and hide from the heat of the daytime. I’ll be glad to get back to work tomorrow- it is a little weird to have been out of the classroom for so long.
I’ve also started keeping an eye on the job market back home; as much as I have loved parts of this experience, it’s time to get back to the States. It’s been hard to be away from my family as they have faced some difficult times. And at the risk of sounding old, I’m warming up to the idea of settling down and starting some semblance of a career. And yes, I will be hoping for snow next winter!

Lots of Love,