This past weekend, L and I got a sheep and I was 100% committed to doing the slitting of the throat all myself however when he arrived all chipper and wagging his little tail my heart sank and I locked myself in my room. Somehow I still haven’t shaken my love for farm animals. Perhaps it is because of all the pumpkin and apple picking we used to do as kids on local farms and after full cartons of big juicy apples we were rewarded with a visit to the farm animals usually having little ones run at their feet. Little did we know that that was Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner the farmers were fattening up. The realities of growing up somehow keep you wishing you never knew. Ignorance is bliss has never been more true.
So back to the sheep.. Oh yes don’t think we didn’t kill it – we did and then ate it. It was delicious and yesterday evening after sending the head away to a woman who apparently knows the art of cooking a sheep head brought it back to us. I watched with my mouth hanging open while L held the head in one hand and used a knife to cut pieces and then place them right into her mouth. I wasn’t feeling keen on the sheep eye however she insisted I must try the brain. I did the honors and broke the skull after refusing the encouraged tactic of reaching in the back and simply pulling out piece by piece.
The final verdict – not bad actually. Very rich and quite similar to the yoke of an egg. We also enjoyed the tongue quite a bit.
This week marks the beginning of the mid-terms for all of the kids. I still can’t believe how fast this trimester has gone by. Somehow the weeks tend to blend together due to the amount of content that must be covered during class time and the study periods during the afternoons and evenings. The mid-term weeks, in teacher language, really means no rotation. During a typical week, the kids follow a schedule just like in the U.S. and rotate between classes. Given that I teach 25 classes per week, I do have from time to time a few off periods. During these periods I tend to go check email, make coffee, de-stress, and organize myself for my next class. When the kids are not rotating however, there no off periods which results in constant discipline and exhaustion. Hmmmmf… only three more weeks though…
This week we finished up Grade 8’s topic on atoms. I think they came out pretty well. I encouraged the kids to use old bottles, trash, and essentially anything they could find. Below are a few of the photos. Not bad eh?
Since Jules has left, life has certainly been a bit of a struggle. Everyday since she left Uis, every class begins with the kids asking me if I can either do the moonwalk, sing and dance for them, or teach them Spanish. None of which I can do with Ms. Julienne’s smile, energy or contagious laughter. I think she has made a lasting impact that even she won’t realize. The kids already ask me when will she and Mr. Matt will return nearly on a daily basis. As they ask me these questions, I can’t help but remember that I will be home in less than a month. It is coming up fast and I honestly can’t wait for daily hot showers, Starbucks, and salads and of course all my family and friends.
This weekend I was invited to go to the annual Otjiwarongo Carnival. Louis picked me up on Friday after school and we headed out to Omaruru and then to Otji. We were being met by Louis’ sister, Mary-Ann and her husband Raen as well as a few other friends. The carnival was nothing like I have ever experienced. On stage were high school performers in red and white sparkling dresses and hats with feathers. We were seated at a long table that spanned the length of the room and on the stage were big tables where people with feathered hats sat with pints of beer. The host spoke to the crowd in Afrikaans then would mid-sentence switch to English and then again mid-sentence would switch again to German. The girls in between the acts would dance up and down the long walkway that cut the room in half. The announcers would make toasts and then the girls would perform a short routine and then we would drink. More announcements in Afrikaans, toast, drink. It reminded me very much of almost an Octoberfest type seating arrangement and performance. Lots of cheering, singing, and dancing. It was a lot of fun. The following day the whole lot which was about 12 people, woke up early and headed to a friends farm. Louis’ sister told me that the game farm we were headed to had kudu, oryx, hemsbok, and eland. Eland is the biggest out of all of the antelope and they were planning on hunting two during the afternoon and into the night because of the full moon. (Apparently a full moon is good for hunting?) We drove from the small city of Otji and then began trekking into the bush. After about 30 minutes outside of the “city” we began to come across big metal gates that would separate farms. We would enter one farms property and then drive through on the sandy road to another gate. Each car in the line would take turns having their passengers get out, open the gate, and then let the rest of the cars through. This continued for another 30 minutes as we traveled through five or six farmers land. Finally we arrived at Espia’s farm, a quant lodge with a 4 chalets next to the main house. The house was surrounded by barbed wire and high fences to keep the game and leopards out. As soon as we arrived all of the men took off to go hunting. The women decided it was time for an afternoon cocktail. I took a long walk along the property and was met along the way by many warthogs and other small wildlife. I was eager to have the men return with the eland because I had never seen an animal that big up close or slaughtered.
Around 9pm, we heard from Raen that they were successful. I had never seen an eland however heard from a few of the women that they can get as big as a ton in weight. 45 minutes later the bakki arrived with the eland. The group brought a few of their workers who apparently had been known to slaughter a whole eland in an hours time. I was ready and eager to see this. Below are some pretty graphic photos. At one point, Fessy, Louis’ cousin, took my hand and shoved it into the brisket (essentially the breast area) of the enormous eland and my hand almost felt like it was burned because the blood was still so hot. It was pretty incredible. The precision of the workers and also the art of slaughtering such an enormous animal was remarkable and something I will never forget. At the end, I held the heart and my hands it it was as big as my head. The meat on an eland could feed a family for about three months time according to one of the men. Espia told me that he was planning on making biltong with the meat and selling it.
Jules and I arrived on Sunday and were greeted by kids simply staring and touching her because she looked so different. Blonde hair and blue eyes are quite the novelty here. Loretta and Jules fell in love at first sight and I spent Sunday evening prepping Jules for what she would be teaching this week at school.
Monday morning we went to the staff meeting, and my principal told Jules that God has blessed us with her arrival and that the school couldn’t wait for her to teach some of the classes. This week, Jules has accompanied me in most of my Physics classes and then taught Religious Moral Education and Art. The kids are tickled when they see her walking down the corridor as her smile is so infectious.
On Monday we went over to Louis’ and he cooked us a big steak dinner after school. Tuesday we hung out at the flat with Loretta and caught up on life and school. Wednesday, Louis spoiled us with a bush braai. We headed over around 5pm to Louis’ house and he took the bakki out into the bush with no roads to guide us. Louis is one of those Mr. Prepared type of men. Jules and I simply arrived in unbrushed hair, torn t-shirts and long hippy skirts ready for anything while Louis had marinated the boerworsch, pork belly, and mutton as well as packed the firewood, camping chairs and a bottle of red wine…. amazing. Everything including the incredible sunset was unbelievable until we tried to leave the campsite and our car got stuck in two gigantic holes. After Jules got behind the steering wheel and Louis and I tried to lift the car out of the sandy hole did we realize we weren’t going anywhere. We ultimately decided to lie on top of the hood of the car and just enjoy the Namibian night sky. Louis’ Dad had to come and find us in the bush and tow us out (ahem… twice) but finally we got home. We never stopped laughing and I will always remember that night we got stuck in the bush. (I just read this to Jules and she wanted me to add “that’s what she said.”) Never a dull moment.