Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Weekly Update

6 April,
             All the action is on the fishing front this week with the call from the boat ' Uncle we have caught another big fish' becoming regular as the fish came back on the bite on Easter Sunday ( is their a connection) and the boys have been having a wonderful time and caught about 6. The sad part is the keenest of them, the small boy I told about last week is the only one yet to land one, maybe the biggest is being saved for him but he is still excited when the others catch one.
 I have been buying wire trace for them as the Tiger fish bite thru the line and today there was none left as they keep losing it by getting it caught in the reeds. So they were sitting on the bank unable to fish when there was a knock at the door and the little fella asked if they could have the rods and he had copper wire in his hand that they then used in lieu of the trace and 10 minutes later the cry went up again and another fish was in the boat. They then told me not to waste my money buying the trace as theirs was just as good. A precious moment seeing young kids use their initiative and being rewarded. I also taught one of the girls who likes outdoor sport how to cast and she hooked onto two fish within 30 minutes  but failed to get them to the boat. She is very keen and has tried again.
   One of the older boys was fishing from the boat which was pulled up onto the bank when he asked us if we had seen the hippo that had come out the water and ate the grass beside our lounge and bedroom the night before. When asked how he knew he showed us the tracks, their were more tracks again this morning so the grass must be tasty, their is an outside security light as well which obviously doesn't worry them. We are so tired of a night that it will take a big noise to wake us but will try to have a look at some time tonight.
     The small kids kept asking for a boat ride to pick fruit so I had to take them all with some of the big ones to watch them and pick the fruit for them. The fruit is a local wild one about 25mm in size, purple in colour and grows on the bushes near the bank but these at the moment are surrounded by water so we just motor the boat up to the bush and can get 50 or more very quickly.
  The newly hatched tiger fish are about 25 - 40mm long at the moment and have started to come back into the river in their thousands, the big fish are feeding on them voraciously. When we went to pick two of the female staff up one morning at the boat ramp they were up to theirs thighs in the water with a mosquito net strung between them dragging the water for these small fish with young girls out in front of them chasing the fish into the net. They caught 2 20litre bucketfuls in short time then after sharing them with any local that came along bought the rest to work. The housekeeper had about 1kg or 200 of them and we asked her if she was going to cook them. She said she was but had to clean them first, we looked at her in amazement as she then proceeded to gut and clean each small fish and took them home to cook in the pan.
     Our two best soccer players were chosen in the aged regional representative side to play a tournament in the capital over Easter, they won one game but lost the next and came away with the feeling that the experience shows them the level that they have to play at. The kids were  bored over Easter so Marg and I organized a sports day for them with the littlies in the morning and the big ones after lunch. We taught them some ball games that the schools in Australia play and once they realized that they had to think quickly and concentrate it became an enjoyable game. We had the usual problem with anyone who dropped the ball or was not in the right position being strongly criticised but overall it was a nice time. They are quite cruel and critical of weaknesses in their peers and don't realize how much they hurt these kids with their words. One surprising thing was how some of the kids are not used to being in the sun and complain about the heat after 10 minutes in it.  I thought about it and it must be because they spend all of their time either inside the main house building or inside school and get very little exposure to the sun. This is very surprising for African people as when in town you often see a mother and infant sitting on the footpath in full sun selling fruit, vegetables etc for hours of a day.
       The two soccer players were going to training last Monday but we had the boat in town being repaired so the first part of their trip was in dugout canoe across the river then a 3 km walk where we were waiting to pick them up in our van. However when we got their in the van the fanbelt had broken and we had to ring our mechanic for a tow the 5 km back to town. The boys had to walk another km and catch a taxi. We also had 4 days supply of food for all the kids in the van, some frozen. It was a memorable tow with the rope only 8 feet long and the mechanic pulling us at 60km/hr and us with only a handbrake and little steering. Things could have been worse as the van was close to being used to take a volunteer back to Livingstone in Zambia so she could fly home and a breakdown in another country would have caused more problems. It is now over a week since the belt was ordered and it arrived today.
 I have been trying to teach the workers some simple ways to do things, they were putting up a new clothes line and asked to buy a wire tensioner so I showed them the way my father had taught me when I was about 12 and a method I thought would be common here. It was to simply use the fork out of a branch of a tree with a hole drilled in it and the wire put through it then turned to tension the wire.
  Then they were building an annex for the workshop and when I had a look they had 12 holes dug where they were going to put posts in to support the roof which meant the storage space would have been obstructed by the posts so I showed them how to just run a board along then run rafters out from it to a single line of posts which leaves the middle free. They are amazed to see these methods as most of them have only built mud huts by age old ways.
  However I didn,t feel like helping them when I discovered that when they were digging the trench last week for the new power cable they cut a power cable running between two buildings and must have been lucky not to be badly hurt when it happened. It meant the pregnant ladies house was without power the night she was in labour (next para) and I guess might have amplified the situation.
  We had to do the typical trip you read about in books on Monday which was to take a pregnant woman in labour to hospital by boat at 6.30 in the morning. She had been in labor most of the night and was lucky to hold off as a night trip in the boat would have been dangerous to say the least. She had a baby girl at 11am and we brought her back home today.
  We are keeping a worrying eye on our water storage tank as it was leaking for over 12 hours last week and now is down to a drop every 10 seconds or so. It seems the boys will have to pull it down and repair it which means finding an alternative water source for at least 2 days at least as that is how long it will take to pull it down, patch it and wait to dry and put back up and hope it does not leak again and with an 8 year old tank???. They might be lucky and be able to do a new one which would be a one day job and less inconvenience and a sure fix and what our plumber recommends.
   To show how decent African people can be our plumber gave me $500 to give to the young boy he has been teaching for 3 days a week most weeks. I told him it was too much as the boy would expect that amount all of the time or at another job. When I asked him how many days the boy had worked he said he didn/t know but the way he worked was he just shared the spoils of a job once he was paid for it with whoever helped him. I then said I would ask the boy how many days he had worked and pay him $35/day which was what many adult workers earn,some less. That I did then gave the plumber back the leftover money which was quite a bit.
We decided to give the small kids a special time and had the 6 girls over with us one night to eat their dinner, watch a video, read stories to them  and have brekky next morning. They loved it and were so excited and behaved very well. Not so the boys, there were 8 of them, 3 were very good but the rest made some of the mischievous kids you see in the movies seem like angels. As a small punishment I have not been back yet to read them their normal nightime story, which also is like walking into a lion's den. 
That was last week, the water is going down and we might be back on the road next week with luck if  the bridge can be repaired with cooperation from all parties??? as some of our neighbours are testy at times.

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