Saturday, 10 May 2008

Moto drivers - the bone headed variety

May 8th

Training day today; we’re off to Shyogwe secteur. I do my usual and walk to the District Office to ask Innocent how much I should be paying the moto driver. I get a moto for a really good price, but as usual it becomes clear the driver hasn’t a clue where St André primary school is located. We roar past St André church, which would be the obvious staring point, and end up miles away deep in Shyogwe’s leafy lanes. He takes me to the secteur office (the administrative centre for the parish) and admits defeat. We gatecrash the parish secretary in a meeting and ask her directions. Back we go along the leafy lanes, back along the main road, and find the school right next to St André’s church. If he had known where he was going he’d have had an outrageously short distance to drive for his money. As it is, he’s definitely made a loss on my fare and he’s not a happy bunny. But, for God’s sake, why don’t these boneheads know their districts if they’re going to be moto drivers? I think they just want to be seen by their mates posing around on the machines. This one was definitely thick as two planks!

The training is supposed to start at 8.00; it’s after 9 before we get started and even then we’re waiting for one or two people. While we’re waiting we’re mobbed by tinies from the école maternelle; 5 and 6 year olds. They’re so sweet and so polite. St André is a private primary school, so these are the children of Gitarama’s middle classes. They’re beautifully dressed, and many of the little girls have braided hair: none of the shaven heads that you get in the state primaries. The little boys wear shorts with built in braces, and a little striped blue and white shirt with a blue bow tie. Both boys’ and girls’ uniforms are really smart as well as very distinctive, and tell everyone that these children come from wealthy families. Talk about making your kids stand out as kidnap targets!

This time we’ve got a few of the Head teachers coming to see what we do. The level of English competence among this group of people is quite good, and they’re on average quite a bit older than last week’s lot. We feel the session has gone well and that we’re on top of our game. We do our games out of doors, and cause chaos during the primary school break time: we’re in the middle of playing “what’s the time Mr Lion?” when suddenly we’re surrounded by a couple of hundred little people who all want to join in. It’s not only the older children from the primary school, too, who can’t resist the sight of twenty teachers and two muzungus playing children’s games. We end up with an audience of a couple of dozen adult passers by. I wonder what they make of it all……… the ways of muzungus are weird indeed!

When we finish it’s boiling hot, and we’ve had the windows closed for them to trace pictures on rice sacks which we’ve taped across the windows. The room is big, like a school hall, but it feels like an oven.

Back home afterwards I get some of the final work done on my District statistics, but it’s too hot and I’m tired and I think I’ve made a lot of mistakes which will be tiresome to put right, so I leave it.

Tom comes in exhausted after a long day and we cook up an experimental vegetable curry which turns out fine, and spoil ourselves with a massive dose of fruit salad. We’re both so full we can hardly move, so we collapse into our respective chairs and watch DVDs all evening.

Best thing about today – doing a good training and feeling competent
Worst thing – the mid-day heat is draining. But, hey, I’m on the Equator and it’s what I have expected. It’s more the thought that the long dry season has arrived a month early, and that if it’s going to stay hot like this right through to September, then it’s going to be a long hot summer when Teresa visits.

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