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Echo’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 16 Sep 2007

Location: Gambia

MapOkay here it is a new installment of African Echo. So sorry that it has taken me so long to get this together but I figured that all of you understand my delay. Needless to say that this new entry is probably going to be super long so it may take you a couple of days to get through. To make your reading more pleasureable I have decided to compartamentalize this entry so those of you that want to read selectively have a choice as to what parts of my life you want to see on this read. Since the reason I am here is to teach I figure that I should really start with that one, then I will move into my new house, which as of Wednesday I moved into, and lastly a couple of entertaining stories for you hopefully with vivid enough descriptions for you so that you can feel as though you are right here with me. I am really sorry that I am not going into elaborate details right now about everything but I am trying hard to find a balance with keeping in touch and trying to get ahead in my lesson planning and moving. I am still in a state of limbo as I still have unpacking to do and I am finally starting to teach so please excuse the quickness of this post.

Okay here it goes. I am officially a teacher at BAES. I am responsible for the education of 13 wonderful boys and girls. I know that many of you are probably thinking exactly what I was thinking when I first got the job "how easy is that, she has only 13 kids?" well just for the record, it isn't that easy. These 13 students are pretty much the equivalent of having a class of 28 in Calgary somewhere. The diversity is insane and there is only one of me. I have kids in grade three that are working at a grade four level, kids that are at the grade one level and a couple of kids that are learning the very basics of the language. The school is not equipped with ESL so that too has become my specialty and I must say one of the most challenging parts of my day. I have four grade four students and luckily three are at a grade four level. The rest are grade threes, which is kind of cool cause I am going to have these kids for the next two years, providing that their parents don't move, which I don't think any of them are planning. The other interesting thing that I have been slowly learning is that there is really no curriculum here, teachers have basically been teaching what they feel like for courses like science and social studies, which makes it another challenge but this is kind of a good one cause I too can do what I think is important for these kids. I am not going to go into too much detail but I will be probably talking too much about my class and my struggles in the future so I don't want to overwhelm you all right now.

So this is probably what you have all been waiting for is the news about my house. You have probably all seen the photos of my house cause I too would go straight to the photos too instead of reading. It is in a great location. I am not too far from the beach and not too far from the road that you can get the really cheap taxis from. I have my own walled compound sorry that I have no outside photos so it is relatively private. I live in a corner lot and right across from a fabulous Indian restaurant, which I am going to have to try and avoid the temptation to eat at every night. The area is really safe so I don't feel the need to get a guard right away but I know that the locals will start to ask me soon and I am sure that within the week someone will be guarding my house.

Okay so now the entertaining story for you all. This was the first umorning that I was in my house. I woke up early to make coffee so that I could sit around and enjoy it before rushing off to school. I was standing by the counter and I happened to glance down to the floor. At a quick glance it looked like there was something sticking out from under the cupboard, like a piece of garbage so I bent closer to see what it was. I learned here to look first before you grab. As I bent closer I noticed a little antennae sticking out and kind of feeling around…at least I thought it was an antennae. Immediately I started to swear thinking that I had a jumbo cockroach living in my house. I wasn't wearing shoes so I knew that I couldn't step on it, plus I have a hard time killing even cockroaches so I reached up and grabbed my flipper off the counter. Soon after doing that the "antennae" started to move and out comes this spider. It was about 4 inches long, including legs, the body was about an inch and a half and the thing was flat. It kind of looked like a walking leaf. I just about shit! Then it started to walk sideways really fast and I freaked out. It was fast and immediately started to head for the counter under my sink and all I could do was talk to it and try and talk it out of going under my counter. I couldn't hit it. Don't ask me why, so needless to say the thing went straight under my sink and as far as I know it is still there. I have a monster under my sink…it is quite funny and you would all get a kick out of the way I sometimes stand at the sink to do dishes cause the thought of this thing crawling over my foot gives me the creeps. I will try and see if I can get a photo of one for you all to see cause I have never seen anything like it. Well if you come to visit you will get to see it.

Okay folks, I have to get back to lesson planning and organizing my day. School tomorrow and it is getting better each day that goes on. I promise I will try to write a little more frequently and thanks for hanging in there. I will get better with my stories and there are many more to come so don't worry. Life is still interesting and I will entertain. I miss you all and keep in touch.