COCKROACHES AND FILTH!
2nd March 2008
Cockroaches still abound, especially at night, so Buddhist principles of loving kindness go out the window I'm afraid, as it's every man for himself in these parts and they get stamped on with remorseless venom!Last night was a classic.You can hear the critters scuttling across the bedroom floor (that's why they don't put Wilton carpets down - you wouldn't be able to hear the b....rs!) I'm such a light sleeper that they wake me up.Now, I had a dilemma last night.Upon hearing the first of 6 last night, I had to decide a) do I brave John's wrath and wake him up to deal with it or b) Do I bash it with the heavy shoe which is at the ready by the bed and risk him having a heart attack thinking he's being shot at?I chose the former - 6 times!!Not a happy bunny was our John, particularly as he woke up this morning to find he was being eyeballed by one which had crawled up the mosquito net!Expletives abounded! .We've swapped lovely quiet Russet House for the joys of living in a compound with many other houses, all of which appear to contain hoards of children who make a lot of NOISE at all hours of the day and night! In the night there's lots of shouting and screaming, which can be blood curdling and when that eventually stops, the quarrelsome dogs take over and bark and howl the night away (the majority of them under our house it seems - I used to be a dog lover!) until, at dawn, families emerge from their houses to talk, laugh and shout together, so a lie-in after a sleepless night is out of the question!Talking of which, for those of you who know these things, our lovely bed at home was a huge 6footer!If I needed a cuddle, I had to catch a No 6 bus!We've now got a poxy 4'6" foam mattress on a wooden base.If we don't do synchronised turning over, either one of us falls out or hangs themselves on the mosquito net!! Hey ho!
I've managed to scrape the muck off the shower, which took the best part of a day and at least now, even though there's no hot water (no water at all a lot of the time) you don't feel dirtier when you come out of the shower than when you went in!We also discovered this morning, when John was cursing the heavens at the lack of water, (the look of total panic at the thought of no morning cup of tea!) that the local herberts had turned the stopcock off underneath the house (children are the same wherever you go it seems!).John tackles the toilet with a screwdriver a bit at a time, as it's a tough job.I've asked him to put a picture on the blog, but I think he feels it's too disgusting, but I'll try and persuade him, as it has to be seen to be believed.We have two 'supermarkets' in Kundiawa, but not as you know them.You have to search under piles to find things.I gave up looking for toilet cleaner and asked an assistant, only to be told it doesn't exist.That explains it - no-one cleans their toilet in Kundiawa! I think I've used up their entire stock of bleach! At the supermarkets and most shops, you have to leave any bags you have at the desk before you go in, to be collected when you've finished shopping.In every shop there are security guards at the door, who frisk people's bags and pockets - most disconcerting, although they let us through unmolested, even though we present our bags for inspection so we don't upset the locals.We had a lot of shopping to carry yesterday, so while John went into the supermarket to try and find something we'd forgotten, I waited outside with the backpack, which I put down on the floor beside me.A scruffy dude sidled up to me and said if I left my bag at my feet it would get stolen.He then stayed with me until John appeared, saying he would, 'look after me'.
We now have three plastic chairs, one table and a bed.Also a fridge and a camping stove- we're missing toast! We still have windows missing and no bulbs in a couple of lights, no shelves or cupboards.On a positive note, we complained to VSO about the state of the place and lack of basics, so they agreed to put money towards a washing machine (clothes have to be washed daily as it's so hot.)So yesterday, when we heard the great news, John trotted into town and found the one and only washing machine in Kundiawa, a twin tub, almost within budget and get this, it was delivered within the hour - beat that in the UK!Luckily John could remember from his childhood how to operate the thing and for the first time to-day I had no hand washing to do - I still ask John hang it out for all to see.Needless to say, the whole compound turned out to watch the beast being delivered and I was half afraid they would all pile in to see how it worked!
On a positive note, a Frenchman has opened a coffee shop and bakery in town which serves delicious cappuccino (the coffee here is very good - they produce the stuff of course).The fruit and veg are wonderful - we had the sweetest pineapple ever for breakfast - we still miss toast!At the market, all the sellers sit on the ground and present their wares in the most creative way and everything looks fresh - they bring it to market from their gardens.We bought some peas on Saturday and the stalks on the peas were tied with twine and then the bunch was standing upright on the splayed out pea shells, looking just like a wigwam and they tasted delicious.
It's hot during the day and usually rains at night or late afternoon and the evenings and mornings are cool, which is a relief.Good news - we can get Australian wine, not much choice and I'd probably use it to clean the cooker in the UK, but sitting in our plastic chairs of an evening listening to the cockroaches scuttling about, who's going to be particular!
We're off to see the Provincial Standards Officer for Education tomorrow, to find out his expectations for our work.I fear the worst, as 13 out of 16 secondary heads in the Province have been suspended.School Improvement Plans, which should have been implemented in 2007, I suspect are non -existent and it appears the majority of teachers have no clue about outcomes based education nor how to encourage pupil participation.Another volunteer told us that his experience was of a staffroom with a few computers, and he took pictures of the staff playing computer games on them and another teacher who'd got an OHP in his classroom, told the children to copy the overhead into their books whilst he went outside to chew betelnut! The amazing thing was they did - in silence!It's amazing walking around the school campus, even though there's no windows, there's not a sound to be heard - they're all busy copying from the board!
We're in good spirits though and glad we have each other, it's not a job to do alone.Sadly, a Dutch male volunteer, who's been here for three months, is throwing in the towel as he's finding things too difficult here.We're expecting reinforcements though, an Indonesian who goes by the name of Ben Hur, so we're expecting him to appear over the mountains in his chariot!
Well the water's still off, so its into a cold bucket of water I go!Hope all is well with all you guys at home.I've just realised, it's nearly Spring - lucky people!
Love from the 'Cockroach Catchers'