- Leopards at My Door: Peace Corps Tanzania, 1966-7, Introduction
- First Term
- First Break
- Second Term
- Second Break
- Third Term
- Third Break
- Fourth Term
- Fourth Break
- Fifth Term
- Fifth Break
- Sixth Term
- Looking Back on the Peace Corps Experience
Saturday, May 7, 1966.
Dear Allen and all,
I have launched my career as a senior science mistress. Four classes with 140 students totalhave now been exposed to “discovery science” from my class in Dar. One class is doing photosynthesis and the other transpiration, closely related subjects. Each student has to do an experiment, and it really bugs them because they haven’t a clue what to do. I asked “Do plants transpire at night?” They don’t know, so I say, “Well, why don’t you use that as your experiment?”
At first, they groan, but once the experiment crystallizes they are quite pleased to tell me the answer. The majority seem interested. I don’t think they have ever done experiments with unknown outcomes. I have to spend a lot of time in preparation so they will be able to do the work, but it is still interesting.
The kittens are about eleven weeks old and quite lively. My favorite is a fluffy black male with tiny white paws. Kay named him Pierre, but I call him Bear Face or Fluff the Tough. Every time you approach him he puts up his dukes.
Kay fired Juma when I was in Dar and Suleimani is our new cook. He is wonderful, quite cheerful and much more pleasant to have around than Juma, who refuses to leave the room in the carport where he’s been living.
Suleimani is a good cook, trained in the English way anyway, one of Kay’s primary criteria. Stocky and a little shorter than I am, he always wears his white Muslim men’s dress and usually a cap when he’s working. Hard to tell how old he is, but he has lots of grandchildren, to his obvious pleasure. He takes his whites off to walk home when he doesn’t spend the night here. I don’t know how far it is, but the walk doesn’t faze him. He calls both of us mama, uncomfortable for me because he could be my grandfather. In Swahili, it means I could be a mama — not that I am one, which is also unnerving.
Suleimani found Kay’s missing tablecloth and several napkins in there. Since Juma won’t leave, Suleimani leaves at 5 and walks home and Kay and I do our own dinner. Winnie and Kay and I went to town Tuesday, and I discovered that 100 shillings was missing from my wallet, so I had to go to the bank for some cash. I think it was Juma.
Juma is trying to get some money because of the way we let him go. Kay fired him but it was while I was away so I don’t know the details. We certainly let him know his work wasn’t great.
On Friday Kay and I went to court and found out that the case had been called Thursday and reset since no one was there. Of course we weren’t there: no one had notified us or the labor officer. Anyway, we talked to the officer and he understood our side. We were supposed to give a one month notice or one month’s pay, which we refused to do. We would have settled except that Juma, who turned up by chance, would not agree to anything. We finally saw his problem. His wife just was put out of work because her employer left, and Juma didn’t want to have to look for another job. We settled for one month’s work as a shamba boy with pay, and he finally agreed. He’ll be sorry. Our yard is a mess, and if he is lazy, we can cut him off with no notice.
Shamba boys (“boy” is nothing to do with age, a holdover from colonial use) are yardmen. Some are skilled and can create a nice garden, but most just cut the lawn. “Cut” and “lawn” are stretching the terms. Ours is the mass of wild grass between us and the lake, so lush we sometimes find cattle enjoying a munch. There is nothing intentional about it, but if it dries up it is a fire hazard.
“Cut” is by hand. The tool they use is a springy piece of thin metal, about two inches wide and four feet long. It looks like it could be a spring of some sort. They bend the end into a slow curve and sharpen both sides of the tip. The worker stands and swings it side to side, grass flying high in the air as the blade carries it to the end of the stroke. One man can whip through a field of grass in no time.
Did you read about the slaving going on in Kenya and Tanzania? Gad, it’s hard to believe.
A great poster pinched from a University College bulletin board found its way into my luggage. “Youth and people of the world unite; defeat the U.S. imperialism, and its running dogs.” A real souvenir, so off the mark that it is humorous along with the “Book” of Chairman Mao sayings in Swahili. The book seller didn’t bat an eye when I bought it in Dar. Just another sale.
Saturday, May 21
Yesterday I took a group of biology students to Saa Nane, a tiny island in Smith’s Sound, fifteen minutes by slow boat from Mwanza. It is an open game park with pens for the less reliable animals: ostriches, rhino, buffaloes, hunting dogs, porcupines, otter and birds that would fly away unless their wings were clipped. Dikdiks (small deer the size of a spaniel), deer, zebras, giraffes, etc. wander at will, uninterested in visitors. There are no great herds because each was brought to the tiny island by boat, but it is the beginning of a nice little zoo. It seems odd that many Africans have not seen wild animals beyond the local hyenas, rock rabbits (hyraxes) and the occasional leopard. Even in the Serengeti you can’t get too close, but few of them get out there either.
Only the dik dik was aggressive. The gamekeeper said he doesn’t like large crowds, and yesterday, our group and one from one of the Indian school were spread out all over the island. When the dik dik had first arrived on the island, he started butting people when he got annoyed. Since he had little sharp horns, he must have injured someone because the gamekeepers cut off his horns. However, he still attacks visitors, as much as that tiny thing can. His back is knee-high to an adult, so when he lowers his head, watch out. He lurks in the grass and when someone turns away from him, he races out to butt them.
I was standing next to one of my students and chatting when I looked away for a moment. I turned back and she was goneI looked down and she was lying on the ground, laughing. No one, it seems, can remain upright after a butt in the back of the knees by the dik dik. It really was quite funny. I kept my eye on him to avoid being a target, but he really was sneaky. He waited until no one was watching and, clippity, clippity, pow, someone else bit the dust.
Fruit is cheap now. Citrus fruits are five cents per, which is about 7/10 of a cent US. Good eggplant and tomatoes are $.21 per pound.
Do you still have our copy of the World Book Encyclopedia? Diana Graham, an American teacher for East Africa, has been trying to get a copy for the school with no success. She would be ecstatic if you would send them and bill her for shipping which Teachers for East Africa (TEA) will pick up. Peace Corps sent a beautiful set of absolutely worthless technical reference books that no one can understand, even me. Someone else sent the Encyclopedia Britannica, which is equally difficult for the girls. We have a Golden Book Encyclopedia which is fine for Form 1. The World Book would be perfect.
Tuesday, May 31.
Coaching athletics (track and field events) is really fun. A teacher who had done great things at one of the other girls’ schools just left, so I decided we could do it, too. Anyway, the girls don’t have many activities outside of school-related stuff and they don’t get any exercise at all, so I will try to build up this team, which means more than one day of practice a week. Membership will be competitive. All team members can be challenged by others for their position.
What appeals to the girls is getting nice uniforms and shoes. I think I can get Peace Corps to pay half if the girls raise the other half. Any suggestions how? It must be their own effort. This is my extracurricular project for now.
I’m getting into the swing of teaching, and it’s less of a burden for me to prepare lessons. First term I was just one step ahead of the students. Thanks to Mr. Foulk’s biology class in high school, it wasn’t difficult to learn what I was supposed to teach, but still, I had to learn that. I have the advantage over the girls, for whom English is at least their second language if not third. They may speak a tribal language until primary school, and then they learn Swahili. Primary schools often have students who speak several languages and need one they can all use. They begin English after three or four years when they get to upper primary. When I taught Form 1 Biology, it was really an English class using biology as the topic of conversation. We all understand that, but the material is repeated later, so they don’t miss out.
More problems with the ex-cook, Juma. Kay and I had to go back to court. The officer who helped us with the new contract wasn’t there and neither was the contract. Everyone concerned seems to have forgotten about it. To top it off, Juma claims he never returned here as a shamba boy to work out the month’s notice, which means he thinks we still owe him. That is a fat lie, but the case was adjourned until the officer we want returns. The judge, a Nigerian, was obviously quite bored with the whole thing. So was I. Juma can’t win, but it takes up our time and patience. REALLY! He was so slow to learn and sulky to boot.
I may be able to get rubber cement here under another name. Hold off on sending any for now. Witch doctors? No, just me. I used a press-on patch to repair a hole in a blouse. Suleimani watched with interest, but I could tell he was wondering what in hell I was doing. When he washed the blouse he had to show me how marvelous the patch was because it didn’t fall off. I wonder who repairs his clothes. He has several wives. Everyone has their set of grubby work clothes that have been patched many times over, patches on patches. Sometimes the men will wear two pairs of shorts at once to keep everything covered. I wonder if they are the bachelors.
The Peace Corps doctor called me in because I’ve been using all his nasal spray. He’s out to find out the “real cause” of my sinus problem. More power to him. Anyway, I’m taking Sinutab pills. They help, but not totally because I forget to take them.
Mosquitoes are bad. The rain comes in half-hour torrents every three to four days now, so they hatch out.
Tuesday, June 7
Oh how cruel, telling me I haven’t written. You probably got my letter right after you sent the one I have in my hand.
I only have 140 pupils this term, four forms at 35 per form. I just got the LIFE books you sent, and they will be a great help. Great pictures. We have midyear exams next week, which means review this week. The Form IVs are reviewing things for the Mock Cambridge exam, which I didn’t teach, so I have them write their questions and give them to me. I look up the answers and explain the next day. Today was the first day with that regime, and I did okay. I need a quick course on Hydra, the ear and a few other things.
I set up this system of written questions because when I was in training, I was an intern in a high school physics class in Syracuse. One day, the teacher told me I could go over the homework with the class, and he left the room. I think I had been warned, so I went through one of the problems that one of the students requested. Someone asked another question, and I ad-libbed through quite possibly a meaningless explanation with practiced confidence. Inside, I counted the seconds to the end of the class. I only hoped the students knew less than I did, but wasn’t certain that was the case. The good/bad news was that some of my fellow PCVs from another school that had a day off were there to watch me teach. Oh, goody. They said I did a convincing job of BS-ing my way through. I’d rather not have to do that too often.
Yesterday I performed my first demonstration dissection on a fish, one I’d bought whole from the market. I had Suleiman just cut off the filet and leave the rest for me to operate on in class. The organs were interesting to point to and pull out for our inspection but girls kept asking where the lateral line was, a sensory area along the side. I said I ate it, which I didn’t exactly because it’s on the skin of the filet. They laughed. Anyway, I saved some of the fish parts for the second class the next afternoon.
This morning the girls complained and said we must move outside because of the rotting fish odor, but I said no, I had to smell the same thing. Suddenly, pow, I was smacked by a cloud of putrid air. The fish exited.
A few days ago Kay, Winnie and I were in an auto accident on the outskirts of Mwanza. We were passengers in Miss Jeavons’ car on our way to a meeting. A guy on a motorcycle, some sort of priest or minister (wearing a dog-collar) was busy waving at his flock in houses on either side of the road. He was heading towards us at the time, and not looking where he was going, and swerved right into Miss Jeavons, who was, as usual, driving extremely slow. He fell off his bike and wasn’t at all injured. There was only minor damage to the vehicles, but the surrounding multitudes (no doubt enjoying the excitement) insisted on calling the police, and Miss Jeavons agreed, “For insurance purposes.”
We all had to appear in court about this, more than once, and the court seemed to enjoy making as much fuss about it as possible, as if they needed something to keep them busy. At one point,the West African magistrate (judge) decided that we would all have to travel out to what he called (inaccurately, as we didn’t hesitate to point out) “the scene of the crime.”
So there we all were, standing in the middle of the dirt road, the judge, the minister, Miss Jeavons, the three of us, plus various officials from the courthouse. Of course, an interested crowd gathered, some of them obviously on very friendly terms with the “injured party,” the minister. Because she’d been sitting in the front seat, Winnie had had the best view of what had happened, and she pretty soon got into an altercation with the minister about what had gone on. Finally, she shouted, gesturing toward the crowd and houses around, “You weren’t looking where you were going! You were waving to all the people!”
That did it. The judge got the picture right away, and said, “Oh, I see.” It more or less ended right then and there.
Miss Jeavons is the new typing and shorthand teacher for the Form 1s, with her own classroom up the hill. It’s a new program, and our school will eventually graduate lots of girls with secretarial skills, something needed by this developing country. From what I can see, Miss Jeavons is a rather stern English woman who seems generally angry. She has a short, stocky body like English detective ladies. We all know when she approaches the staff room, which isn’t often, because her thick, orthopedic shoes clump, clump loud on the hard dirt. She usually hangs out in her classroom, but has to appear for staff meetings.
I was delighted that Miss Jeavons had issued rulers to all the girls, but when I asked them if they could use them in maths (I’m teaching Form 1 mathematics), they all said she told them only to use them in her class, no one else’s. She keeps to herself and seems to have no friends. I feel sorry for her because she really doesn’t have any peers, at school, anyway. She is older than most of us and seems permanent. Most of us are volunteers and contract people who will leave after two years. In our conversations, an opinion has gone around that many of the long-term Brits here are people who could not make it at home and come to Africa to “be somebody.” It seems to be true of the missionaries and, I might guess, Miss Jeavons.
On Fridays, we have an extra period at the end of the day for Dini (religion), which is a required subject. Missionaries show up to teach, and there are Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Methodists and a few others. Someone comes for the Muslim girls as well. Kay volunteered to teach a class in Comparative Religions, and a good number turned out for that, the unchurched, I guess.
Well, I’ve begun a great project with the “athleticians.” That’s what the girls in the athletics program call themselves. Like beauticians? I don’t know. I had a meeting with the girls, and they decided to practice two times a week, and to allow a certain number of absences. They have a sergeant at arms to take the role, et cetera. I hope they really get enthused because I get exercise, too. One girl who comes is very cranky. I appointed her the role taker, so maybe she’ll cheer up. It seems to be working so far. At least she’s too busy to complain, which was all she was doing. She’s a curiosity to me, because she doesn’t have to come at all.
I attended a meeting for the Mock Cambridge exam that will be held soon. The real Cambridge is given at the end of the year, sent from England, I guess. But the Mock is really more important because of the timing. This one determines who does what after secondary school: University? Trade school? Teacher training for the lower schools? I am making up questions for the physics part of the exam. I have some of the previous exams so it shouldn’t be too difficult to make them fair. It’s a regional exam, so the local teachers make up the questions and we each have corrections to do. Arg.
Thanks for sending the Sears Roebuck catalog which I received today. New clothes look nice. I’m tired of my six skirts and eight blouses. I need to get some made, and maybe I can use some of the pictures in the catalogue to inspire the seamstress here. There seem to be about three or four styles for dresses and skirts that they know how to sew. That’s it. Two yards of material costs 18 to 20 shillings. Add seven shillings to cut and sew and you have a blouse. A dress is fifteen shilling for the labor, less than four dollars total.
Wednesday, June 15, 1966.
We are in the middle of midyear exams and the Mock Cambridge for the Fomr fours. I am a proctor today. Sounds kind of medical, but it means I sit in front and keep an eye on everyone so they don’t cheat or write letters. We teachers are mixed up among the schools so we don’t cheat, either.
The Peace Corps inspector, who came yesterday, with no warning, didn’t like my biology class at all. He kept saying how I should have used “the tricks of the trade,” but he didn’t know any to suggest because he wasn’t a biologist. Gad, he’s as much a biologist as I am. I’m just learning the trade so how can I learn the tricks as well? I work harder learning my subject than anyone here.
Only two of his criticisms were valid. I know I haven’t corrected the exercise books this term. There’s been no time. He blamed me for Anne’s (Mrs. Birnie) mistakes, too. I’m carrying on exactly as she did. Of course, he looked at the books of the back-sitters. Naturally, they had spelling mistakes but I always write the hard words on the board. It’s the easy ones they miss. He suggested mimeos. I did hand out one, which I know they haven’t read. Or he said they should be copying from a book, which is worse, since they will have the text book until the exam. What’s the point? He said there is no color in their books. This isn’t an art class! I wish we could do pretty pictures, but we don’t have colored pencils or crayons. His evaluation had the same complaints I have, but he had no solutions and neither do I. The consensus among the teachers is that the inspectors are useless, though, so I feel better. Colored pencils, indeed.
You asked why we have a man for a cook. The women cook ugali (a stiff porridge) for their family and the food they like. The men learn cooking as a trade so they can support their families, and I doubt they would eat it if they were invited. The women stay home and work on the shambas (farms) and raise kids and the food the family eats. We now have ashamba girl and she’s really getting the yard into shape. The men like the easy jobs and say the women are more energetic. I wonder what the women say about that.
The weather is cool, now, almost sweater weather. The other night, Kay and I sat on our new steps, built by our shamba girl. They make it easier to go down to the “front lawn” from the drive in front of the porch. We gazed upon the lake as the jasmine-laden breeze wafted past. How poetic. It was spoiled by cat-piss odor. The kittens born in our house now live in the bushes near the hall at school and come home on occasion, usually with diarrhea. Serves them right. If they’d eat the good food Kay puts out for them they would be healthier. The smell is disgusting. Four runny cats. Egad.
We are down to eight staff. We should have fourteen. The girls have great gaps during the day when they have no classes, but it means I can give more homework.
It may be my Waterloo, but I’ve been having great fun teaching electricity. My book of demonstrations just says what to do. It doesn’t explain the results or the point of the lesson. Well, that’s my life story here. Make do with inadequate resources. It’s better than nothing, which is what’s going on in several subjects right now.
Monday, July 4, 1966.
I imagine today has been relaxed for you, since it is the Fourth of July. As for me, the past 30 hours have been action-packed. To start, July 2 (Saturday) was a holiday, and on holidays, there is no work, no school, nothing planned for the girls. The girls feel they should be enjoying themselves because it is a holiday, but they aren’t, because there is nothing to do. Boredom sets in and with it come the “hab-dabs,” as Dave Merchant calls it. They had some problems like this at his upper primary school last year. A girl with the hab-dabs either laughs or weeps uncontrollably, both unnerving. One girl starts up and others “catch” it.
Saturday night Betty and Dave were on duty, and several girls were affected, but calmed down after a while. Sunday it flared up again, and by Sunday night Dave said the whole school was like a loony bin. Dave and Betty took a Land Rover-full into the hospital. They said it was quite funny. Six girls with the “hab-dabs” were accompanied by seven friends. Some girls were laughing, some crying, others throwing themselves around half out the windows, arms waving. Must have looked like a cartoon car full of clowns. They all got sedatives at the hospital and came back to the school infirmary. As some girls were about to leave the infirmary, a leopard appeared and wandered around for a while. It was the third since I’ve come. Hysteria was at an all-time high after that. I don’t think they were bored, anyway.
Oh yes. Two boys from my PC group came by on their way around East Africa to stay at Steve’s house. They are teaching at Iringa and on vacation now. I helped entertain them from five to nine last night. So, what with hab-dabs, leopards, guests, courts, ministers, fires (bon and otherwise), was a busy day.
This morning, Kay and I went to settle our case with Juma. What with a change of magistrates and labor officers on vacation, it is our fourth time in court, and it’s not over yet. The magistrate adjourned it to be settled later. Don’t ask me why. I was furious; tears were ready to spill from frustration. We chewed out the court interpreter and his sidekick, good-humoredly, which, of course, did no good but made me made me feel better.
Back at school, the Chief Education Officer had just arrived, late. He was addressing the girls: therefore, no morning classes. At 2:45 pm, after the laborers had left, someone spotted a grass fire which eventually burned most of the grass around and between the dormitories. Apparently, only the laborers know how to put out such a fire. No one else seemed moved to do anything.
In the late afternoon, some of us American staff and friends had a nice barbecue on the beach to celebrate the Fourth. The sunset was fantastic. The sun was huge and red as it slipped into the lake behind the barges and the sailing dhows that drifted past. We broiled meat and sang songs until the full moon rose in magnificent splendor. Never let it be said that I lead a boring life.
Four new teachers arrived to replace the ones that have left. Two are Teachers for East Africa, who seem quite nice, and two Asians, who keep to themselves. Unfortunately, we are housed according to government protocol, the better the education, the better the house. The Asian teachers get the same kind of houses as the African teachers. I think ours are nicer, but the ones the Africans live in are more like what they are used to, a few rooms with a walled-in back yard area. I don’t think they would complain if they had my house, since Mrs. Makonde seemed quite settled into one just like it when I first arrived.
Esther, our athletics star, won the long jump, 100 and 220 yard races at the national athletics meet in Dar last weekend. She could go to Jamaica for the Commonwealth games in August. Maybe she’ll need a chaperone? I can’t claim any responsibility for her efforts. She’s been trained by another coach for several years.
The athletics group is doing fine. They are thinking about money for blouses, tennis shoes and track shoes at $15 a pair.
Tuesday, July 18, 1966.
Our headmistress, Mrs. King’ori, has resigned. We are all behind her resignation as a protest even though she is the best we have had, and I quite like her. It started when she was away, actually. Six girls were sent home by the acting Head at the start of the term (three for brawling in a bar, and three had stayed for several days in Mwanza with an “uncle.”) Mrs. King’ori backed up the action when she returned. When Mr. Sawe, from the Ministry of Education, came on July 4, he gave a great speech saying how lazy students would be sent home, etc., and we were all thrilled.
As a background, some girls just don’t belong here, but once a student is in secondary school it is next to impossible to expel them except in cases of pregnancy. This last is sometimes used by recalcitrant fathers who would rather have their daughter be under some other man’s care and control than educated. They arrange a “vacation” for the girl with some promising groom and if she turns up pregnant, that’s that. Mrs. King’ori told us she was at a school where a newborn was found crying at the bottom of the latrine! It isn’t so surprising. One of our girls, Mercy, a very sweet andd quiet girl, didn’t return at the beginning of the term because she had given birth, and no one even knew she was pregnant. Full term. Some of the girls are quite chunky and have stout bellies, and their loose blouses cover it all. We heard too late that Mercy’s father was fed up paying her expenses and made the little arrangement for her that solved his problem. I’m surprised she stayed as long as she did. Some teachers were suspicious, but we all want the girls to get as much education as possible, so we weren’t going to blow the whistle on her.
So, Mrs. King’ori got a confidential letter from the Ministry telling her to re-admit the six girls who had been sent home. They returned to school before the letter got here, and she refused to admit them. Mr. Sawe had signed the letter before he gave his speech here and didn’t even mention it to her! On Saturday, Mrs. King’ori got a phone call from the Ministry of Education in Dar, saying she must readmit them. Since the Ministry refused to back her actions, she resigned. This was the last of several such incidences for her, she says. Our second-in-command flatly refused to be headmistress. I don’t blame her. So, today, our head is Mr.Sangai, the Regional Education Officer.
Sunday, a group of us teachers went to Dancing Table Rock for a picnic. It is the destination I often use when running with the athleticians. A huge mass of flat rock overlooks the valley and juts into the lake. It was a nice day, with a pleasant, cool breeze through the mid-afternoon. Coming back, we somehow split into three groups. We got lost, as usual, but we all arrived back at the same time. The paths wander all over, like a cow might. You just have to have an idea where you are headed and take the one that seems right. It is difficult to judge distances on that plateau, yet since the lake is on three sides, you can’t get permanently lost. It’s a big peninsula, with little bays all around. I have sore muscles, but it was fun.
This week, the Form IVs are taking the regional exams, the mock-Cambridge that will decide their future. Right now they are taking biology. I think most will pass.
I tried to make the English muffins. I don’t know how many ounces one cake of yeast is, so I had to guess. We can only buy dried yeast, and my recipes are British. My technique will improve.
Even though I just mailed a letter to you this morning, I’m writing another to answer the one I just received.
I’m delighted about the books. Send them immediately. Diana leaves at the beginning of August. Don’t send the medical books. She didn’t seem to think it was worth the expense. If it costs a massive amount, maybe you’d better send just the last two or three yearbooks.
About our court case with Juma: we went on the 16th for the final time. We thought, and were prepared but the inevitable happened. Juma, the prosecution’s star witness, was not present. The magistrate told the “lawyer” that he’s been wasting our time, and the case was struck from the record. The lawyer seems to want to reactivate it, but it is obvious that the magistrate is fed up with the whole thing but not half as much as we are. I typed out a six-page defense with every detail. Now Mr. Lawyer says he wants a copy. He could have told me before I typed it. I need all my carbon paper for my letters.
Today and tomorrow I’m correcting the regional biology tests. The girls didn’t do too badly, no thanks to me. I did my best helping them review, though the material was all new to me, so I’m not sure how well I did at it. I didn’t take biology in college. Anatomy and physiology was full of ruthless pre-meds.
I’ve been making things for demonstrations and sliced open my finger while cutting the ends off old dry cells to get the zinc disk to make a voltaic cell. Using the zinc disks, copper coins and blotting paper, I can make something that costs $30 to buy.
Kay and I and Steve and Roger, Steve’s housemate now, who is a TEA, may go to the Serengeti next weekend. Vacation begins August 5. I’m not sure whether I’ll go. I’m rich, though, with about $300 in the Dar es Salaam bank. That’s good, because vacations are costly.
Monday, July 24, 1966
I know this will stagger you, three letters in a week. We don’t plan things to happen in spurts. Say, who needs letters for security, anyway? You or me? You can’t just call the Washington office to see why I haven’t written. We aren’t watched that closely.
Don’t send vegetable seeds yet. We use flats, and I think we buried some too deep. We just throw the squashed tomatoes in the garden and they come right up again.
I’ll see if I can pry next year’s vacation schedule out of the powers that be. Right now, just who they are is the big question. I guess I must have mentioned Bertha King’ori, the headmistress, resigning. Well, the Ministry refused to accept it, and instead they fired her. So now the Regional Education Officer is the Head. They think we are going to strike to protest the readmission of the girls to the school. All of us, students and staff, are really ticked off at this, and it could come to that, but I doubt it. Someone from Dar is coming up by plane to soothe us. It is so political it reeks. I wonder why these girls, or more likely their fathers, have so much pull. We will write to the president himself, but I doubt if it will help. The teachers who are the most gung ho to strike are the ones who leave in two weeks. What do they have to lose? I’m just playing it cool.
The new teachers are nice. One, an Asian, will live in town, so we won’t see much of her, but the other two, both British, are quite lively. Some of the next ones to come arrive are married, and will hang out with their spouses, so we will never see them.
The Mock Cambridge, the big exam, is over. The girls did not really shine, but in comparison to the other subjects they did quite well in biology. One of the few A’s. I don’t know about physics-with-chemistry. I am correcting that tomorrow. You can imagine the strain they were under with all the confusion here.
Well, I got my wish to see a rock hyrax up close. Freya brought one around to the front door in her mouth. I don’t think she knew what to do with it. She’s a golden retriever, but they don’t eat their catches, so she just dropped it. I think it may have been sick because she is not a hunter, either. Big fat ticks covered all the exposed flesh like around the eyes and ears, and the fur was full of tick-bumps. I have to dispose of it somehow. Maybe the leopard would like it.