Every day is a lifetime and the weeks flash by at uncanny speed. February? I don’t even know when it happened and it’s already half over.
Days are filled with a series of captivating events, important and trivial and yet I find myself interested and absorbed by everything; I teach or don’t, I play sports or don’t, I watch sci-fi with Collin on the projector or dorky anime with my fellow fanatics (Colin and Anthony: we get particularly engulfed in Avatar, which we have regrettably finished); I meet with the agriculture club and in so doing get a constant source of entertainment [The other day Najma, the nurse, wanted to come and check out the fabled agriculture club. When someone asked her if she was part of our glorious club she tried to make a joke and said “Unfortunately.” This was when we were constructing our flower boxes – some more in the abstract art genre than others – and not two minutes later, Najma tripped and fell in one of only two piles of wood in sight, stepping on a nail in the process. Two seconds into the chaotic incident, Yussef (there are two Yussefs in school, and this particular one is “Big Yussef”), one of our most devout members, says: “That’s what she gets for insulting Agriculture Club!” but then luckily proceeded to helping her remove the piece of wood and nail from her foot. Oh Agriculture Club, never a dull moment and all it took was a couple weeks and we already have our first casualty]; I discipline students (from the boarding school) in the ongoing “War for Respect” as Kiette calls it; I smoke shishah; I sometimes chew khat and stay up until dawn with the guys (specifically the “Bro Crew, ” which consists of Anthony, Colin and me), talking and playing cards and generally just hanging out and having an amazing time, which ends with a beautiful yet groggy sunrise and a couple hours of sleep or no sleep at all; I go to town to run errands or use the Internet, which, compared to the Internet here at the school, works at light speed and allows me to finally put up pictures; but generally I do a million things and nothing simultaneously, and next thing you know three weeks have gone by since my last blog update when I said I would write one every week. Some things never change and I think it will be a while yet before my procrastination improves.
Abdulahi building our outdoor oven.
It does seem like I’ve been here for years because so much has happened in such a short amount of time. The school is truly like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly (I hope you all love the cheesy analogy) and it’s interesting to see the metamorphosis. New buildings are being erected, specifically the boys’ dorms, girls’ dorms, and a new teacher housing unit. And the trees that I planted are growing! Officially, you’ll all be happy to know, only one has truly died and shriveled up…but I don’t know if it left seeds on its way out or something because other plants have started growing in its place; they look almost fern-like but thus far seem as though they are doing just fine.
Agriculture club is just a lot of fun and does it make me a bad person/teacher if I like our club and kids the most? They're always doing something to crack me up, whether it's with their comments and demeanor or with their building techniques. And we keep getting a few guest members like musculos (Anthony) or Technology man (Colin), who doesn't actually do anything except a great job at standing around and making sarcastic and witty comments.
It is nice being able to hang out with the teachers although my brain often doesn't work quite so well the next day for lack of sleep- a small price to pay for quality time spent with people who couldn't be more different from one to the other...which makes for a really interesting, eclectic group. Now what is Khat? - you might be asking yourself. It's a leaf that comes from a tree/bush-like plant that everyone chews here (actually, perhaps a bit excessively) and that keeps you awake and alert...and it's apparently illegal in Canada! Unfortunately people are addicted to it which causes all kinds of problems...but in moderation it helps you stay awake and get things done.
Last weekend I got to go to Berbera, on the coast, and it was absolutely beautiful and beyond relaxing. And nothing but white/black sandy beaches (the black sand is apparently caused by iron deposits that wash up on the beach with the currents) as far as you could stretch your eyes, with relatively few people around. Saeed, one of the students in my Adult English Business Class, is the manager of one of the five star hotels here in Somaliland called Mansoor, located both in Hargeisa and Berbera, and he gave the school (two teachers specifically) an all inclusive weekend in Berbera....which, in addition to delicious food and chill accommodation, also included scuba diving! And the man behind the diving: Scuba Steve, a character of a man from Britain.
The coast is essentially where the Red Sea and Indian Ocean meet, so it's absolutely unique for diving. Unfortunately, it was rough and choppy when I was there (due to storms coming down through the Red Sea) so we could only stay in the harbour, but I got to dive alone in and around a wreck, which was exciting and invigorating after so many months of not diving. Initially, I was supposed to go with my Somali "buddy," but once descended I noticed he was no longer in sight. So I ascended and was amused to find him swimming back to the boat, so I just decided to go on to the wreck myself.
But then part way through the dive something grabs me and it's my Somali buddy! So we kept diving together and he kept bumping into me and halfway through the dive he was running low on air and went up and I was left on my own again.
Steve was busy finishing up an open-water course with Taylor and Peter, two other teachers from the University of Hargeisa, so the second dive I actually went into the dark ship, which was a little freaky because I kept expecting a shark to be there in the dark, lurking and waiting for me! (yes, they have sharks, but apparently they rarely attack and even less so if you go up to the ship).
The rest of the time I just hung out on the beach with Daniel (the physics teacher here) and napped and swam and did mostly nothing, which was nice.
When we weren't napping on the beach we were looking for camels...and I tried to feed one, which just seemed completely uninterested.
Things are definitely staying interesting, which I love.