- Learned how to stich -I tried to learn in Girl Scouts, but by the time I had threaded the needle and knoted the thread I was exhausted. I ususally took ten to fifteen minutes to do so, and I had sucked on the thread so much ot get it through the needle that it split and I had to cut it. This happened so often that by the time I tied the knot and started, I had aboiut 2 1/2 inches of thread to work with. Plus, I'm sure I poked my figer a lot. Today things have changed. With Aichatou's patient guidance, I have learned how to thread the needle, tie the knots, mend the rip and do it all over again. That's right, yours truly has indeed mended a pair of training pants and a very cute little flowery dress for my dear friend Marie. (Who is currently making use of neither as she is parading around the house "naked as a bluejay" as my family used to say, after her bath).
- Tied a real baby on my back (not Tigger this time!)
- Baked a batch of snickerdoodles, successfully halving the recepie without any kitchen disasters. Mom, I think I've overcome my kitchen inablitity, although I have yet to tackle "real cooking". No longer am I the woman who fools the "fool proof" Keylime pie recipe or forgets to boil the water before adding the pasta. I am a snickerdoodle-making machine. Of course, you always knew I was good at baking, since I was the one turned to in the fear of your brownies. Teehee.
It is a wonder Aichatou let me do all this after our 20 minute conversation over the word "klutz" at the dinner table last night- Tom and I were trying to define it in French because I had used it in reference to myself. When Tom told me Aichatou would teach me all the African secrets, I didn't think I'd lose my clumsiness and gain the ability to save nine in time. (Get the pun?) Next time you see me I'll be able to balance a copius amount of things on my head while walking, simultaneously spinning dishes on a pole in both hands. Or maybe that's too much to hope for.
Although...perhaps not all my clumsiness is gone. Yesterday I woke up early from sieste and Ramatou (my roommate) and I went on a walk. There were a few thorny sticks on the ground I stepped on on the way--that is, I counted 36 thorn-sized pinpricks in ONE flip flop when we returned, many of the thorns still residing in the sole!
The Johnson family actually lives on the border of Niamey, sour our walkt took us out into an open field, for lack of a bett word, except taht said field is made up of sand and rock, not grass. We spotted six or seven donkeys, numerous sheep (the sheep here are not wooly like they are in the North. They look a lot like goats-more skin than fur. You can tell which ones are goats though because they have horns and beards) and a small animal skull. Teeth and everything still intact. I think I even saw a femur bone laying around somewhere. The other abundand thing besides sand and thorns was trash. Since it is a big open area at the edge of town and Niamey doesn't have city-wide trash service to my knowledge, trash just gets dumped outsied. It's important to realize,though, that if something can be recycled it will be. Tom told me yesterday that you almost never see a car skeleton in Niger becuase people will take the car apart, melt the aluminum down and re-shape it into things like spoons, cook stoves or seives.
Tomorrow we are going for a picnic with the girls at the hospital to visit my friends the giraffes again. The snickerdoodles are to come along and so is the whole fam. I can't wait. It's still hot here, but I still drink around 4 litres of water a day, maybe more. Rain hasn't come in more than a week, I think. I can't believe it's been nearly two weeks that I've been here. Days are flying by faster now that I'm in a routine.
One more thing-Marie is to be enrolled in preschool "jardin des enfants" in a couple weeks, which means I will be free for three mornings a week. Right now it looks like I am going to spend a lot of time with Ramatou and Zeinabou and her children. I have started teaching Haoua her letters, and now that Fati and Faycal are out of school, they have the mornings free too. Zeinabou has expressed a desire to learn English (she already knows 7 languages!) and so you are looking at the future maitress of L'ecole d'Amanda. I know some of you have teaching experience (my Dad told me about all the book club members at Central that read my blog!) Please, send any and all reading/writing teaching tips you have my way.
Baby's crying, gotta go. Another day in the life.
Hope God is blessing you where you are, he certainly is blessing life in Niamey!