Chris and Norma finally arrived at Brad and Ruth’s a little after 2pm on Saturday. Hurray, hurray!!! was the shout all around. ...okay, it was mostly just me, but everyone was happy they made it :>) They had Pumba with them, their American Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Their other dog, Mafuta, who I LOVE, had stayed at Morning Star for the 2 weeks they were gone because she doesn’t do cars. “Futi” is a rescue dog who is very nervous about things and was obviously abused before she was rescued. Mafuta - which means “big” in Ndebele - is anything but. She’s very low to the ground and long and rather sausage-shaped (her back legs are all rabbity-hind feet), but she’s got the face of Murray from “Mad About You” which is probably part of why I love her so much. (Black-lined bashful eyes and a long nose and half-floppy/half-perky ears.) That and I just want to love on her because she’s so sweet and shy and nervous. She doesn’t follow us inside the way Pumba does, just stays outside or goes to her bed in another room, doesn’t ride in cars, doesn’t jump up or want to be in your lap or allow you to pick her up. She’s a very sweet dog, Corgi and something, and when she’s happy, she’s got that little dog JOY that reminds me of Midget (who I miss an extra lot lately - it was strange to be taking off on such a big trip and not have her following me around while I packed and then not having to say goodbye to her before I leave. sad). It definitely helps to have such a nice dog around. Pumba’s alright but he's not really my type. He does crack me up, tho, because much like Joel's cat Shadowfax, he loves to roll in dirt and then wanders around covered in dirt and grass and hay (his coat is pitch black, so no camo, haha).
Anyway! We got to Morning Star last night and unloaded the (packed!) car. We’d left a big steamer trunk at R & B’s to fit my suitcases in the back of the truck. C & N had brought back 2 big steamer trunks that had been stored elsewhere for the last 3 years; today we discovered that the one which stayed in the trunk had some of their camping gear inside. I know that feeling of not really being sure what’s in a box, just knowing it’s not vital to your existence or you would’ve had it with you all this time. I’m pretty tired of moving myself, but I have no clue when I’ll have my own place again - hopefully sometime in 2012.
We had a simple dinner of sandwiches and crisps. It’s been a very cold weekend for here this time of year and because it was cloudy yesterday, the solar panels hadn’t heated the water enough to take showers. Norma built a fire so we could take showers in her little bathroom, and it was steamy boiling hot water - for a few minutes and then got colder pretty quickly. The bathroom in question is new since I was here last, and quite nice overall but the showerhead is at least 7 feet in the air AND I was trying to keep my hair dry last night so some serious contortionism was required to get clean and stay warm at the same time. (I felt like a midget and it reminded me of when the Little Couple talked about how hard it is for them to take showers in a normal shower - running between drops! ahh!). Tonight was a little easier, because Norm stoked the fire right before I got in, but still, the temp dropped pretty fast once it went down and the last thing you want when it’s this chilly and you’re basically camping is to be wet and COLD.
Thing about Morning Star is that it’s got a lot of buildings, all thatched roof, and some are more secure and air-tight than others, but there’s no heating in any of them. So right now, in my “cabin” (hut), there is only a slight draft, but it’s quite cold and I’m sitting here under several blankets, wearing about 3 layers.
The best improvements since we were here before are the addition of solar battery powered lights in almost all the rooms (so you’re mostly dealing with dimmish blueish LED light but it’s electric light gosh-darn-it! absolutely magical :>) and the addition of a new bathroom on the girls’ “dorm” where GG and I stayed last time (two showers and a toilet and sink) and C & N’s bathroom, with toilet/shower/sink and room left over for storage of any number of things. Funniest thing about the showers is that they’re all made of big rough stone, so your feet get a bit of a scrub, and if you lean down to fetch the soap without thinking, your bum will get pumiced as well! :>P TIA, man, and I love it.
Today I was woken at 545, having not slept all that well to begin with, by the maniacal chattering of the birds. The birds here, even in the city, are insanely talkative and LOUD. In the dim light, I half-staggered to the loo and back, put in my ear plugs and on my sleep mask, and willed myself back to sleep for a few hours. (Side note on birds: the other day, I heard a rooster crowing at 330pm, and he was answered by an owl. There are some confused birdies, folks.)
My sleeping habits are already hiLARious altered from what they are in the States. I have rarely gotten to bed/sleep before 2am basically this entire year. If I have to get up early for something specific, I have managed an earlier bedtime some of the time, but as soon as the commitment is over, it’s back to the latest nights. In the 2 weeks before I flew out, it was more like 3 or even 4 before I could manage sleep. I was just too keyed up and stressed and there was a TON to do. But I’ll tell ya, not having electricity can really make you ready for bed earlier better than anything else. Last night, we had dinner and then Norma was getting me set up to get a shower (fire-building etc), and I was yawning a lot and thinking, “please let it at least be close to ten so I can go to bed soon”, looked at my watch - ....815. OY. I was completely pooped and ready for bed by 9, but I made myself stay up and read til 10 so I had a better shot at staying asleep. I ended up having a bunch of weird dreams throughout the night and not even knowing what to do with myself when I woke up.
Today was a quiet day at MS. Denis and his daughter Kayla and their friend came by for a while around 10 (Kayla is WAY taller than 2 years ago and very slim, built like Denis, inc. wicked cheekbones; she is losing teeth and remains unshy; she’s about 7). Denis has multiple businesses but one is a lodge just about a mile away called Shumba Shaba, which is really incredible. The cabins are built into the mountainside and have an amazing view. He’s a friend of Ryan K, and was our guide when we went to Vic Falls last time, and drove us around/facilitated our visit in many ways before. Good man.
C & N and I spent much of the day unpacking and getting ourselves sorted, which was good. N and I made lunch and eventually the sun came out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky - hurray! - and it got much warmer and nicer, so N and I went for a “walk” (Death Hike, more like - Emmy and Rach know what I mean) with the dogs. It was hilarious - she kept veering around and circling back on where we’d been and taking me up and down crazily steep boulder faces, and then thru tangles of thorns and vines and roots, etc. I was not entirely prepared, haha. Should’ve worn an older shirt :>P But it was beautiful, of course, and got to see a couple of great vistas and things, and got a good workout. The dog joy was in full force, since neither of them have gotten much running around time lately. Always makes me happy to see a dog happy. (I’m such a sap :>)
Managed to get online for a few minutes after dinner, but N’s comp battery doesn’t last long and the internet connection comes and goes like crazy, very unreliable, so I was only able to read some of my emails and shoot off a few lines to the parents and RK.
All is well, tho. May get to visit a few schools this week. I think we will visit 2 schools once the Ems are here, so I need to pick the second one (already planning to revisit the school - Sigiti - which GG and I worked in before). That way we can spend 3-4 days in each school. In between, we’re planning a trip to Vic Falls, the Boma (World’s Best Restaurant), and Botswana for a safari day - exciting stuff all around! Starting to make a list with Norma of what the Ems can bring (so far, dice and flash cards). Tomorrow (Monday) working on sorting supplies and planning and getting ready for various activities the rest of the week.