My adventures serving in the Peace Corps
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Kittens, visas, and the end of January?!
Where did January go?? Barely over 6 months of service remain.
A week ago today, at about 8pm, I was petting Baby when some fluid started dripping out of her and she started having contractions, so I knew she had gone into labor. I set up shop next to her and prepared everything to make her comfortable. After a full hour of contrations, nothing had happened, which I thought was odd. About an hour after that, the kitten started coming out, feet first, which for kittens is backwards. About thirty minutes later, she hadn't made any more progress, so I started to worry and called my parents for some help. After doing some research, we found that you are supposed to gently help pull the kitten out when the cat is having contractions (of course, using hot towels and vaseline and gloves and all of those other fancy things that I don't have at my disposal here). By the time we had figured this out, Baby had given up and stopped pushing, and the kitten was cold to the touch and hanging half way out of her. I was fairly certain that the kitten was dead, and was now worried about the danger this posed to Baby. Both Angele and I tried pulling it out, to no avail. Finally, an electrician stopped by (at almost midnight) and yanked the kitten out. It was horrible to watch and I was so scared that it was going to tear Baby's uterus or something, but I think she was ok. The kitten was indeed dead. The other cats ate the placenta but left the kitten alone, so I put it in a box and gave it to Angele to dispose of. Bless her heart, I think she buried it the next morning- I couldn't bear the thought of just throwing it down a latrine. Other than very minor bleeding for a day or two afterwards, Baby seems to be doing fine, and is now acting as mommy #2 for the other kittens! They immediately started feeding from her and letting her pick them up and give them baths. Enjoy the pictures of the kittens with their new momma! The two kittens are doing great, really healthy and active. I even litter-box trained them this week! In a week or two they will each go off to their new homes.
School has been a bit discouraging lately. Last week we had review sessions for the final exams this week, and in my older classes, my students really didn't know much. We've been working on these subjects for weeks, and they seemed to be getting it up until then. The exam (which I wrote) was neither easy nor hard, but the class which I have graded so far got an average of 7.76 out of 20! Really disappointing. Once again, it is clear to me that they simply didn't study.
This week I had to proctor exams, which you might recall from last year that I absolutely hate doing. The students don't respect me (you don't proctor for your own classes), and think that since I am different that I will be lax and they can goof off an talk during the exam. When I told one class to be quiet, they only laughed at me and continued talking, so I had to call in the surveillant who told me to give a zero to the next student who so much as coughed. In another class, I had one student get up and nearly run out of classroom before I could do anything about it. All of the students seemed shocked when I would make one of them change seats or antyhing like that. On the bright side, proctoring for other students makes me really appreciate how much my own students respect me!
Last weekend I went to Michelle's post for one night to plan out the agenda for the next GLOW meeting and work on writing some exams for the regional English competition. After getting our work done, we cooked an awesome dinner and stayed up until 2:30am playing Take Two, this game kind of like Scrabble but fast-paced. We joked that this was the latest we had stayed up in forever and what a fun Saturday night activity it was haha!
I am now down in Cotonou getting my visa for Ghana, since we are leaving on that trip three weeks from tomorrow! I'm also going to try to make our Ghana hotel reservations. The brass casters in a Ghanaian village that I helped design an exhibit about are willing to meet with me, so I'm really excited about that. We're also going to soak up the big city life in Accra (sushi and a movie theater!), check out the slave castel in Cape Coast, and spend a few days relaxing on the beach.
All of this traveling is a bit nerve-racking. Not only was Catherine recently in several moto accidents, and not only have I seen multiple dead bodies on the side of the road from accidents recently, but about two weeks ago, three volunteers were on a bus coming down to Cotonou when the bus brakes failed and they plowed head-on into a semi. All three people in the semi died, 10 people on the bus died, and several people who had been on the road side died too. Most of the people who weren't instantly killed had very bad injuries. By some miracle, all op the volunteers were ok, though very shooken up from what had happened and seeing all the carnage. Because they came into contact with so much blood, they all have to take the emergency anti-HIV drugs that make you really sick.
Death in Africa is a funny thing. It happens so much and can happen so quickly that people don't view even awful incidents like this as much of a tragedy. To them, it is all "God's will". You do become a bit desensitized from it; even I have gotten used to seeing dead bodies on the roadside after an accident. And, as morbid as this may sound, I have never been so aware of my own mortality as I am here. In America, we feel so far removed from deaths, especially tragic ones, but here, I am forced to think about it and pray silently every time I get onto a moto or into a taxi. Death really is just a part of life here. I don't mean to be morbid or depressing, it's just something to think about, and unfortunately something I'm forced to think about a lot here.
Tomorrow I will head to Dobgo for a cooking session with a few friends and to take some things from Catherine's house. I'll be back down in Cotonou a week from tomorrow for a Camp GLOW meeting (keep those donations coming!) and that breakfast with members of the State Department. Stay warm!