Saturday, June 7, 2008

The school atmosphere and African trees

One of the funniest things about school here is that it’s prohibitively difficult and expensive to use photocopiers. That means that when I’m giving a test I need to write it all of the questions on large A1 aisle paper with markers and stick it to the front wall with sticky tack so that all can see the test (I find this a better method than writing it out on the blackboard seven times). When I’m standing in front of the room trying to look intimidating so that they know I’ll punish them for talking during the test I sometimes have to laugh because they look like Prarie Dogs or Meer Cats, first sitting up all erect and attentive and then bending down over the test, each student in their own rhythm. Another thing I wanted to mention about the school is that the schoolbell is an old tire rim suspended like a gong. The guy who tolls the bell is a young guy, maybe 20, who rings it mercilessly loud with a metal hammer and since the bell is just outside of the library it sometimes scares the crap out of me because it’s the last thing you expect to hear when you’re in a library. The schoolyard has two trees that I esteem highly: one is the Baobab at the far end of the row of classrooms and the other is the HUGE shade tree of unknown species with a mysterious resilience that has allowed it weather the many cyclones it must have seen during it’s long life here near the Mozambican Channel. The Baobab is a folklorical African tree, a Lion King type tree, but really what it reminds me of is Keebler Elves. It’s like a deciduous cactus, apparently hollow inside of its massive trunk where it stores water for the dry season.
I'm trying to upload the photos now, not much luck so slow

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