Saturday, August 22, 2009

My awesome week

Alright let’s try to recap on the week. Monday: I went swimming and it was wonderful as usual except for when a bunch of boys came into the swimming pool area and a couple decided it would be cool to walk along beside me as I’m swimming. I didn’t really notice because a guy who I’m assuming is a swim coach gave me some pointers on my breast stroke. It threw me off at first but I think I’m getting a hang of it. So when I saw I was being followed by someone I assumed it was him…yeah so I got finished with my lap and saw a couple of ten-year-old boys staring at me. I said hello aka what the hell are you staring at? They just laughed and watched me get out of the pool. Not cool.

After that I went to culture, power and wealth class. It was really interesting because we basically unpacked the concept of the witch. It was actually amazing to understand something as childish as a witch and find such deep meaning in it. Everything about a witch symbolizes an unmarriable (I realize that’s not a word) woman. She’s not attractive, she’s old. The most interesting symbol that once I thought of it made perfect sense is that of a broom. It represents a penis. The things that a witch cooks are unedible, etc. I just found it so fascinating how the evil witch that I’ve never thought too much could symbolize so much.

Tuesday brought more swimming and of course class. Nothing too exciting to report there. Then after class, I went to Hillcrest and the kids were absoutley insane because the weather was awful. They didn’t have much work to do which I always hate because I don’t know what to do if they don’t have work. That day we ended up playing Uno. At first it was me and a couple of grade two girls which was fine but then some of the older boys decided to play which just continued my dislike for teenage boys. They were just obnoxious and doing obscene things. I realized afterwards being angry about it and openly probably didn’t help but it was just annoying. I was just reminded of Winnie and how he used to annoy me and if he knew he had annoyed me, he’d just keep doing it. the best thing to do is just to ignore but apparently all that torture he put me through didn’t register. I guess it’s just been a while since I’ve had to deal with that.

Wednesday was my first braai which was cool. Our core class was held at our house and Jane our interim program director cooked brats for us. they were damn good and while we were waiting we had a lecture on education. Tony is such an interesting character. He does so much stuff. When he first got to our house, he had apparently just came from interviewing young boys about growing up without a father. It sounded like a really great experience, heart-breaking but touching as well. He does lots of stuff like that. He always seems to be up to something different. Class was structured interestingly. He first asked us to write down any thoughts/questions we had about education and then proceeded to ask one of us to go through our lists so that he could talk about it. It was really interesting. He knew so much about the system but it was also very overwhelming because he was giving us so much information in no particular order. The gist of what I can recall is that the South African education system has a long way to go. There are so many issues. It’s hard to begin. For example, there’s a huge issue with corporal punishment because teachers aren’t allowed to hit the kids but often in the African culture, that’s how kids are raised and parents will give the teachers to hit the kids and sometimes that the only way you can get them to react because that’s how they’re raised. I see this in action all the time at the primary school because the kids can be so bad and the teachers are very limited in what they can do.

Thursday was awesome because I had finally finished my two papers that were due and was able to turn them in and now I only have two things to worry about Monday and then I’m basically home free until after break which starts for me this Friday. To celebrate being done with papers and the start of the weekend, I decided I would try to make something that I’d never made before: risotto. The recipe was fairly simple but one thing I could not find at shoprite: gorgonzola. It’s apparently a kind of blue cheese. I was able to substitute with some blue cheese that shoprite had but I think I used too much. It was difficult because the recipe called for grams and of course I’m not used to cooking with that so that threw me up. But the recipe called for rice, butternut squash, dry white wine, chicken stock, sage leaves, etc. It was intense. I started cooking at six and didn’t start eating until almost eight. Most of it went well. But the recipe called for creamy gorgonzola. I wasn’t sure how that would work since I bought a block of cheese. I used up just mixing it with the butter and sage I was making. The recipe called for sage leaves which I couldn’t find but I did find chopped up sage. So yeah, the whole crispy sage leaves didn’t happen. But first I chopped the butternut squash up which was fine. The worse was chopping onions. I know they make you cry but I hadn’t done it in a while so that was awful. You cook the onions and then add the rice. Meanwhile the butternut is baking in the oven. It was actually probably the most complex recipe that I’ve ever made. The end result was disappointing. I think another problem I had was with the chicken stock. The recipe called for 100 grams or something and I think I added too much or something. It was just way to salty and it sucks because though the recipe claims its enough for two. I feel like it was a lot more than because I have tons left over but I’m managing. Like tonight (Saturday) I made some plain rice and green beans and combined it with some of the risotto to help neutralize the saltiness. It works pretty well. So lessons learned: use less if you’re not sure how much you need. It was really fun though. I just like the experience of trying something new so all in all I’d say it was worth it.

Friday was awesome. No classes but I went to hillcrest in the morning. I first went to grade four as usually but they were taking a test so I went down to grade two and helped the same kid, Ramses (I think that’s his name) whose French read. He does fine for the most part. He’s just a really slow reader and I’m not sure how to help him with that and I tried to ask him if he wanted me to read a page and then he read a page but he apparently didn’t understand me which was awkward. Then I went back to the grade four and helped again with Valentina. She did well for the most part but it was really frustrating because sometimes she just wouldn’t try. I would ask her how to pronounce part of a word and she would just smile and not try. I also helped with another girl and she struggled a lot but did really well with words I thought she would. Then the bell rang and I went to see my aftercare kids for a bit before going home.

Then I decided to make brownies because I wanted something sweet…duh. And Adam came over and we started to plan our garden route trip for September. It was so confusing. We think right now that we’ll be renting a car because it’ll allow us more freedom and more money. But the problem is the time constraint. We only have four days and lots of things we want to do. Plus the distance between all the places we want to go made planning this trip very difficult. We ended up planning at least three different trips, each starting with a different city to try to make the travel time less daunting. It didn’t work out to well. We finally gave up and during all this I was trying to make brownies, they did cook right for some reason but they were still really good. The top cooked fine but the bottom for whatever reason was really gooey.

Then Jamie invited all of the girls to climb Lion’s head and watch the sunset. The weather had been crappy again yesterday aka raining in the morning then clearing up then raining again. August weather here is very unpredictable. But I decided that since I hadn’t done it and I had no set plans for the day it was a good idea plus it was a great workout (which it absoutley was, I’m still sore).

We took a mini bus downtown. A minibus is just that…a minibus but it’s a really cheap way to get around the city. It’s sort of like a taxi and a train. It can get drop you off where you need to go but it only goes on a certain route. Catching one always involves flagging down a minibus that is always speeding down the road. Riding in one is a quiet an adrenaline rush. The one we rode stopped way too close to other cars for my liking. Then we took a taxi to Lion’s head. That driver scared me as well. He blatantly ran a red light. I almost had a heart attack but we ended at the foot of the trail in tack.

The trail started out rough. It went straight up. But it was also really cool because it went a round and a round the mountain. Ok, to clarify to convenience sake I’m calling Lion’s Head a mountain. I’m not really sure if it counts as one.

We eventually caught up with the Marquette people who were also walking up the trail. The views were spectacular. You could see all of downtown and Table Mountain on one side and on the other you could other parts of the city and Robben Island and of course more mountains and lots of ocean. It was great. I ended up being at the end of the group because I kept on taking so many pictures (of course). Once we got close to the top, we took the chain route which involved a bunch of chains and ladders. It was really fun and kind of intense. I just kept on thinking the entire way up how hard it would be going down (it wasn’t that bad actually). So we finally get to the top and the view is breathtaking. Everyone starts taking out wine and food and I just there taking it all in. it was so beautiful. It’s really hard to describe: just breathtaking.

The sunset wasn’t as beautiful as I was expecting but it was still nice. There were just a bunch of clouds on the horizon so the very end of the sunset was covered up by clouds. What was really cool was seeing the city light up. My camera has to be really steady to take good pictures in the dark but I managed to take a couple good shots. After freezing for a bit too long and taking a bunch more pictures we descended to the bottom. It wasn’t too bad at all. The phone I got from Arcadia had a flashlight on it which was really helpful. I think my favourite part was climbing down the chains in the dark. I was nervous about it but it was really easy actually. The descent went fine. I was in front this time because I was ready for food and warmth. So I had to stop a lot to make sure I was still pretty much with the group. But it was really scary when we were nearly at the end I noticed a flashing light pointed directly at us. I didn’t really think much of it until we got really close. I noticed it stopped, then I got worried. Who in the world could that be? We were the only ones on the mountaintop therefore the only ones coming down. So I slowed down and let a couple boys go ahead of me. Apparently it was a ranger because someone had seen a light flashing and thought we were in distress. So everything was fine. I was just nervous that we were in big trouble but all was well.

Now for the ride home. That was interesting. There were probably 13 of us total and only two cabs. So we crammed seven people in the car I was in. It was a very painful experience. Jamie sat on my lap and somehow my leg was contorted in a weird way that made the ride the longest one of my life. Needless to say, I was happy when most of the people got out at the Marquette house. I went home. I just wanted some warmth and some food. It was great experience though. I took 250+ pictures

And now to today and then I’m done. We went surfing. Jane decided to take all of us or anyone who wanted to go, surfing and for free. All we had to pay for was the train ticket down there which was R11 (11 rand) which is a little more than a dollar. I love the train ride. Seeing all the different houses was really cool. And I decided to separate from the group to try to observe how South Africans ride the train. Most were alone and quiet listening to music or something. I thought about talking to some but that’s a fear I’ll need some more time to get over.

Finally we get to Muizenberg. I don’t even have to look at the sign. You can just see the ocean from outside the window so you know. It’s so pretty with the mountains and the oceans. We met up with Jane and got suited up. Wetsuits are very interesting to get on but even worse to get off. Today marked my third lesson and it went really well. I honestly didn’t really think I needed other lessons but I wasn’t about to turn down free lessons. I love surfing. It’s so fun. It is a great workout although I did something weird today with my right knee because it’s giving me trouble. I might have to take tomorrow off in terms of working out but the nice thing is I can go swimming on Monday and my knee should be fine. I think just jumping up on the board bothered it somehow. But the actual surfing was awesome. I caught lots of waves. It was exhausting but the only reason I got out was because I was hungry. After changing and stripping off the wetsuit, I ordered hot chocolate and calamari. It was delicious. I love fish here. So good and so cheap. I also got waffles and syrup with Zina which took way too long and it didn’t even end up being waffles. They were definitely pancakes but whatever they were still good. Ride home. Chilling in a quiet house. Did laundry. That’s the end of the exciting stuff. Amanda and I are making coffee cake. And next week I’m trying to make cheesecake. That’s all folks. Hope you enjoyed the super long read.

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